Shifting Cultivation: Features, Advantages and Disadvantages

Today, let us discuss about the Shifting Cultivation, it’s features as well as it’s advantages and disadvantages below. In this system of shifting cultivation, the farm is not at a permanent location. Instead, a piece of land is cleared, farmed for a few years and then abandoned in preference for a new site. While the new is being farmed, natural vegetation is allowed to grow on the old site.

Eventually, after several years of bush fallows, the farmers returns to the original location. The practice of moving the home along with the farm is discontinued and in its place the practice of making home stationary is common is tropical in Africa.

Common Features of Shifting Cultivation

  1. The farmers first selects a site which has been under bush fallow for several years.
  2. Clears the vegetation by burning.
  3. Crop are then grown on the field for one, two or three years starting with crops with high nutrients requirement and ending with crops that has low nutrients requirement.
  4. Low levels of technology, input and management.
  5. Most of the operations are carried out using simple hand tools and the labour requirement are high while the yield are correspondingly low.

Read Also: Trends in Crop Production both Nationally and Globally

Transitions of Shifting Cultivation
Transitions of Shifting Cultivation

Factors Necessitating Shifting Cultivation

1. Declining of soil fertility and increasing population.

2. Unusually high incidence of diseases and pests.

3. Social or religious customs may dictate the abandonment of site before its fertility level has become marginal.

Disadvantages of Shifting Cultivation

1. It tends to discourage high level of inputs.

2. Because the farms stays in one location only for a short while, there is no incentives to invest in permanent structures such as store sheds, irrigation and even certain pest control soil erosion or soil conservation measures that may have a long-term benefits.

3. It requires a great deal of land to maintain the system.

4. Low efficiency in land utilization.

5. Low efficiency in labour utilization.

Read Also: The Definition and Classifications of Cropping System

In summary, shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned and allowed to revert to their natural vegetation while the cultivator moves on to another plot.

The period of cultivation is usually terminated when the soil shows signs of exhaustion or, more commonly, when the field is overrun by weeds. The length of time that a field is cultivated is usually shorter than the period over which the land is allowed to regenerate by lying fallow.

Shifting cultivation is a form of agriculture which involves clearing of a plot of land by cutting of trees and burning them. This method helps to eliminate weeds, insects and other germs effecting the soil.

Shifting cultivation allows for farming in areas with dense vegetation, low soil nutrients content, uncontrollable pests. Meanwhile, in shifting cultivation, trees in the forests are cut. This increases soil infertility and leads to soil erosion. 

Related: Effect of Tropical Climate on Animal Parasites, Vectors and Diseases

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