Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Choosing the Right Number of Crops - Approach One

In our Agriculture for Everybody blog series, we are going to see how to choose the Right Number of Crops.

We have discussed previously about
  • Choosing the Right Crop
  • Choosing the Right Variety within a Crop
In continuing with the similar topics, we are going to discuss about the Right Number of Crops.

Generally, it is advised to go for 20 to 40 range of Crops for diversification.  How is this number arrived at?

If we need to maintain the diversity as well as minimize the risk, it is better to allocate only 2.5% to 5% of the total land available for farming (excluding land for Fences, Livestock etc).

In this case, some of the crops may get more money for the same land allocated, while some others may get less money and hence it will average it out by itself and also there will be a continuous flow of cash in our hands. (Will be discussed further in future topics)

While the % or the range may be easily valid for long duration crops like Plants, when it comes to short duration crops like Vegetables or Floriculture, we need to have another 20 to 40 range of crops within these.  The reason being Vegetables or Floriculture produces more in a short time and hence there may be over production if we have only 1 Vegetable or Floriculture crop and hence the risks of market will be there.

As a thumb rule, keep the above in mind.  Its not that we have to strictly maintain this range. Depending on the specific situation of the farmer, it may go up or come down.  A farmer having a small holding (1 Acre) cannot go for 20 different Plants but may be possible to go for 20 different Vegetables including Green Leafy Vegetables.

We have seen the general model, but what about Integrated Farming?  Lets for a moment assume we want to go for Integrated Farming. In Integrated Farming, we normally would have atleast some of the following in our farm.

  1. Cattle (Cows, Sheep, Goats etc)
  2. Poultry (Chicken, Ducks, Pigeons etc)
  3. Fisheries
  4. Apiculture and may be more depending on the interest of the farmer.
If we plan to include one or more of the above options, we may need to allocate enough land for hosting them as well as enough land for producing the feed.  After subtracting the land needed for the Livestock, use the remaining land for other crops.

We need to keep in mind that Cereals, Millets etc are also need to be considered as a crop and hence they can be part of the 20 to 40 ranges of crops.

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