Based primarily on nature of land, climatic characteristics and available irrigational facilities, the farmers in India practise different types of farming.
(1) Subsistence Farming:
Majority of farmers in the country practise subsistence farming. It is characterised by small and scattered land holdings and use of primitive tools. As the farmers are poor, they do not use fertilisers and high yielding variety of seeds in their fields to the extent they should do. Facilities like electricity and irrigation are generally not available to them. These result into low productivity.
Most of the food production is consumed by the farmers and their families. Where facilities like irrigation and electricity are available, farming has improved. Important cash crops like sugarcane, oilseeds, cotton and jute are grown.
The subsistence agriculture has given way to commercial agriculture to some extent. Dry land farming is practised in areas where the rainfall is low and irrigation facilities are inadequate. Here, emphasis is laid on conservation of moisture, and on crops like jowar, bajra and pulses, which need less water.
Wetland farming is practised in high rainfall and irrigated areas. Rice, sugarcane and vegetables are important crops in these areas. In dry farming, only one crop is grown while in wet farming, at least two crops are raised in a year-one in the kharif and another in the Rabi seasons.
Features of Subsistence Farming:
- The whole family works on the farm.
- Most of the work is done manually.
- The farms are small.
- Tradition methods of farming are followed.
- Yield is not very high.
- Most of the yield is consumed by the family with very little surplus for the family.
(2) Shifting Agriculture:
In this type of agriculture, first of all a piece of forest land is cleared by felling trees and burning of trunks and branches. After the land is cleared, crops are grown for two to three years and then the land is abandoned as the fertility of the soil decreases. The farmers then move to new areas and the process is repeated. Dry paddy, maize, millets and vegetables are the crops commonly grown in this type of farming.
The per hectare yield is low. This practice is known by different name in different regions of India like Jhum in Assam, Ponam in Kerala, Podu in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and bewar masha penda and bera in various parts of Madhya Pradesh. As far as possible governments have tried to discouraged is practice of cultivation by tribals due to wasteful nature such as soil erosion caused by it, when soil erosion caused by it, when soils are not under cultivation.
Features of Shifting Agriculture:
- A clearing is made in the forest by cutting and burning of the trees.
- Seeds are planted in the ground. This type of cultivation does not involve ploughing the soil or other agricultural practices.
- After two or three years, the clearing is abandoned as the yield decreases owing to weeds, soil erosion and loss of soil fertility.
- Then a fresh clearing is made and the community migrates of that area.
- This is a wasteful method of cultivation.
(3) Plantation Agriculture:
Plantation farming is bush or tree farming. It was introduced by the British in the nineteenth century. It is a single crop farming of rubber, tea, coffee, cocoa, spices, coconut and fruit crops like apples, grapes, oranges, etc. It is capital intensive and demands good managerial ability, technical know-how, sophisticated machinery, fertilisers, irrigation, and transport facilities.
Some of the plantations like tea, coffee and rubber have a processing factory within the farm itself or close to it. This type of agriculture has developed in hilly areas of north-eastern India, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and in Nilgiri, Anamalai and Cardamom hills in peninsular India.
(4) Intensive Farming:
In areas where irrigation has been possible, the farmers use fertilisers and pesticides on large scale. They have also brought their land under high yielding variety of seeds. They have mechanised agriculture by introducing machines in various processes of farming. These have led intensive farming where the yield per unit area is high. In some areas, this has led to the development of dairy farming.
(5) Dry Agriculture:
This practice is followed in areas where irrigation facilities are lacking. Crops cultivated in these areas can withstand dry conditions. The crops grown generally with the help of irrigation are also grown under dry farming. In such circumstances the per hectare yields are generally lower. Most of the area under dry cultivation entertain only one crop during the year. This is practiced in drier parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh etc.
(6) Mixed and Multiple Agriculture:
Mixed farming is referred to cultivation of crops and raising of animals simultaneously. The multiple farming is used to denote the practice of growing two or more crops together. In such case a number of crops having varying maturing periods are sown at the same time. The crop maturing early is generally harvested before the growth of the long maturing crop and there is thus not much completion between the crops growth. This practice is followed is areas having good rainfall or facilities of irrigation.
(7) Crop Rotation:
This refers to growing of number of Crops one after the other in a fixed rotation to maintain the fertility of the soil. The rotation of crops may be complete in a year in some of the areas while it may involve more than one year’s time is others.
Pulses or any leguminous crop is grown after the cereal crops. Legumes have the ability of fixing nitrogen to the soil. Highly fertilizer intensive crops like sugarcane or tobacco are rotated with cereal crops. The selection of crops for rotation depends upon the local soil conditions and the experience and the understanding of the farmers.
Features of Plantation Agriculture:
- Huge Estates
- one crop farming
- Labour intensive
- Huge capital investment
- Modern and scientific techniques used
- Crops mainly grown for trade
(8) Sedentary Cultivation or Permanent Agriculture:
It is also known as settled cultivation. In it farmers get settled at the place and practice continued use of land year after year with the variation of crops. In it permanent settlement of farmers exists. It is the normal system of agricultural practice found in almost every part of India.
(9) Terrace Cultivation:
Where lands are of sloping nature, this type of cultivation is practiced specially in hilly areas. The hill and mountain slopes are cut to form terrace sand the land is used in the same way as in permanent agriculture. Since the availability of flat land is limited terraces are made to provide small patch of level land. Soil erosion is also checked due to terrace formation on hill slops.