Types of Cropping Patterns

Cropping pattern refers to proportion of area under different crops at different points of time. It also indicates the time and spatial arrangement or sequence of crops and / or fallow in a particular land area. This implies that any change in cropping pattern would indicate (1) a change in proportion of land under different crops (2) a change in time and space sequence of the crops.

We can differentiate between time and space sequence by following examples

  • If the land is occupied by one crop during one season, the cropping pattern would be Monocropping. [space sequence]
  • If the land is occupied by one crop during one season and next season and next to next season (same crop grown year after year), the cropping pattern would be monoculture., [Time sequence]
  • If more than one crop are grown in succession within a year on a field, it’s called multiple cropping. If these are two crops, its called double cropping.

Monoculture & Monocropping

The key disadvantage of Monocropping / Monoculture is that it would reduce soil fertility and damage the soil structure. Due to poor soil nutrients, the cultivator is needed to use chemical fertilizers to grade up production. The chemical fertilizers would disrupt the natural makeup of the soil and further aggravate the problem. These practices also allow spread of the pests and diseases.

Crop rotation

In crop rotation, crops are changed from year to year according to a planned sequence. Crop rotation is considered to be a key principle of conservation agriculture for, it improves the soil structure and fertility. It also helps to control weeds, pests and diseases.

Multiple Cropping and Sequential cropping

Sequential cropping refers to growing of two or more crops in sequence on the same piece of land in a farming year. On the basis of number of crops in a year, it is called double, triple or quadruple cropping. Examples of double cropping are Rice-Potato; Rice-mustard; Examples of triple sequential cropping include Rice-Potato-Groundnut.


Intercropping refers to growing of two or more crops in same field at the same time. Example of intercropping is planting alternating rows of maize and beans, or growing a cover crop in between the cereal rows.

Intercropping is different from crop rotation because two or more crops are grown one after other. On the basis of spatial arrangement; the intercropping can be of different types such as:

  • Row intercroppingwhen cropping involves the component crops arranged in alternate rows. The benefit of this include optimum utilization of land space and suppression of weeds during the juvenile stage of the main crop.
  • Strip Intercroppinginvolves growing of two or more crops in strips that are wide enough to allow separate management of the two crops; but close enough for the crops to interact.
  • Mixed intercropping or mixed cropping refers to growing of two or more crops at the same time with no distinct row arrangement.
  • Relay intercropping or relay croppingis a system in which a second crop is planted when an existing crop has just flowered but before harvesting. Thus relay cropping has minimal temporal overlap of two or more crops. In India, Rice-Cauliflower-Onion-summer gourds is one example of relay cropping.
Factors Affecting Cropping Patterns

Cropping pattern plays a vital role in determining the level of agricultural production, which in turn would reflect on the agricultural economy of an area. A radial orientation of the cropping pattern may be affected by changes in agrarian policy, improvements in technology, availability of agricultural inputs etc. We have discussed it in next article.


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