Cropping Patterns

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A farmer’s crop production decision is influenced by physical, social, and economic considerations. Farmers can plant a variety of crops on their farms, and rotate a particular crop combination over time. 

Best farming techniques comprising particular cropping patterns and cropping systems helps in increasing productivity and maintaining soil fertility.

What are cropping patterns?

Cropping pattern can be defined as the proportion of land under cultivation of different crops at various points of time. It indicates the time and arrangement of crops in a particular land. Changing cropping pattern would lead to:

  • Change in proportion of land under various crops.
  • Difference in space sequence and time of crops.

The average rainfall, temperature, climate, technology, and the type of soil used for agriculture determine the cropping pattern in India. Various patterns of cropping are practiced for obtaining maximum yield. 

A cropping pattern which evolves across space and time is a dynamic idea. It can be described as the percentage of land covered by various crops at any given period. In other words, it can be described as an yearly pattern of sowing and fallowing in a particular region.   

Cropping patterns in India can be represented using primary crops as the base crop and other possible alternative crops as alternative crops. It is crucial to recognise crops and their agro-climatic conditions for categorizing them. For example, wheat, barley, and oats are grouped. 

Indian agriculture is dictated by soil types and climatic characteristics which govern the entire agro-ecological setting for sustenance and the acceptability of a crop or set of crops for production. Kharif, Rabi and Zaid are the three different agricultural seasons in India. The southwest monsoon kicks off the kharif season; tropical crops such as rice, cotton, jute, jowar, bajra, and tur are produced during this season. The rabi season starts in october-november marking the arrival of winter and concludes in march-april. The short-term summer farming season which begins after rabi crops have been harvested is known as ‘zaid’.

Types of Cropping Patterns

The major types of cropping patterns are: 

Monocropping: Monocropping means growing one agricultural species at a time in agricultural land. It might reduce the fertility of soil, and destroy its structure. Chemical fertilizers will be required for upgrading production. The practice will also lead to spread of pests and diseases. Monocropping and monoculture have the same meaning. 

Mixed Cropping: If two or more crops are grown on an equivalent land, it is called mixed cropping. Growing wheat and gram on an equivalent land at an equivalent time is an example for mixed cropping. Practicing this method will help in minimizing the risk of crop failure as a result of abnormal weather conditions. The crops which are grown together will have a different maturation time and distinct water requirements. It is important to grow one tall and one dwarf crop together. The crops will have diverse nutrient requirements. While one of the crops should have deep roots, the other one should be shallow. Satisfying all these criteria will lead to a successful mixed cropping pattern.

Advantages of Mixed Cropping

  • Increase in crop yield.
  • Helps in minimizing pest infestation.
  • Reduces the risk of crop failure.
  • Ensures proper utilization of soil.
  • More than one type of crop can be harvested at an equivalent time.


It can be defined as the practice of growing different crops on an equivalent field at an equivalent time following a definite row pattern. The practice helps in  increasing productivity per unit area.

Types of Intercropping

Row Intercropping: In row intercropping, crops are arranged in alternate rows. It aids in the maximum utilization of available space, and also helps in suppressing weeds during the early stage of the main crop.

Strip Intercropping: In strip intercropping, two or more crops are grown in wide strips, managed separately.

Relay Intercropping: Here the second crop will be cultivated only after the existing crop has flowered, but not harvested.

Example: Rice-cauliflower-onion-summer gourds.


Advantages of Intercropping

  • Soil’s fertility is maintained.
  • Helps in controlling spread of diseases and pests.
  • Facilitates optimum utilization of resources.
  • Helps in saving time, land.
  • Leads to optimum utilization of nutrients present in the soil.
  • Crops such as soybean, bajra and lobea are grown as intercrops.

Crop Rotation

Here, various crops are grown on equivalent land in pre-planned succession. The crops are rotated over 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years. Legumes help in extending soil fertility. Crops which require low inputs are mostly grown after the crops which need high inputs.

On what basis are crops selected for rotation?

  • There should be enough moisture available.
  • Selected on the basis of availability of fertilizers, manpower, and machine power.
  • Marketing/processing facilities.
  • Availability of nutrients.
  • Crop duration.

Advantages of Crop Rotation

  • The soil fertility will be maintained for a protracted period.
  • Helps in preventing the growth of weeds and pests.
  • Minimal usage of chemical fertilizers.
  • Physical and chemical range of the soil will remain unchanged.

Factors Affecting Cropping Patterns

  • Since the cropping pattern helps us in determining the level of agricultural production, it reflects the agricultural economy of a particular region.
  • Changes in agrarian policy, availability of agricultural inputs, and improvement in technology will have their impact on cropping patterns.
  • Hence cropping patterns help in improving fertility, increasing yield. Ensures crop protection as well.


Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy of our country. Economic factors have a major influence on the cropping pattern in Indian agriculture. 

“Our farmers are our assets, we should ensure their wellbeing.”

Check Your Knowledge

Cropping pattern can be defined as the proportion of land under cultivation of different crops at various points of time.

Kharif, Rabi and Zaid are the three different agricultural seasons in India.

Row intercropping, strip intercropping and relay intercropping.   

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