The main goal of sustainable agriculture and crop management is to increase productivity while reducing the negative influence on the environment and harmful effects on human health. It also benefits the rational use of non-renewable resources. It’s vital as we have to conserve them for future generations. In this article, you can learn about five sustainable practices, including intercropping, that can help you to get more yield without environmental harm.
Сrop management techniques
These techniques involve various agricultural methods applied to improve the productivity of the fields. They also contribute to resource use efficiency. These techniques help combat a variety of crop threats, including disease, pests, and weeds.
Crop rotation involves the sequential growing of different crops on the same site. This practice benefits soil health and fertility. The given method is used to reduce or prevent diseases and the spread of pests.
In addition, several plants, including legumes, can store carbon and nitrogen in the soil. It’s vital for the conservation of the environment. For example, with the help of rhizobacteria, crop rotation can trap atmospheric nitrogen if cereal crops are grown after legumes. However, crop selection is often dictated by crop prices. Another point in favor of this practice is improving the soil’s water-holding capability, physical and biological characteristics.
Intercropping or mixed cropping is the practice of growing various types of crops on the same plot simultaneously. The essence of this method lies in the fact that, with biological interaction, plants can benefit each other. Crops can be planted in the same row, strip, or bed; the main thing is that the distance is not too great, and the plants can interact. Intercropping methods include growing a commercial and non-cash crop together or with a cover crop. Farmers also grow different cover crops together.
Speaking of the benefits of intercropping, pest and weed reduction can be achieved depending on the selected plants. It is also one of the ways to allocate resources more efficiently and save space. Mixed cultivation can also benefit farmers. If the main crop for sale does not produce a large yield due to unsuitable weather conditions or other factors, this deficiency can be made up for the harvest of other crops.
This crop management method is based on the understanding that all fields are different.
Therefore, most often, they require applying different methods. Blanket-treatment is not a versatile way of resources management and productivity-boosting. However, farmers can use other more effective strategies. Management zoning is a practice that helps to define the individual needs of every site.
Zoning involves drawing up control schemes for which it is necessary to collect and analyze a large amount of information. The list of required data includes images, yield data, topographic information. They contribute to identification of high and low yield areas in the field. In this case, several zones are distinguished in each field, which determines the water-holding capacity and soil fertility. The site’s need for fertilizers, irrigation solutions, and pest control methods is determined based on these data.
Manure is used on farms as fertilizer to increase soil fertility and increase the concentration of nutrients and minerals in it. This substance can be presented in the form of compost or green manure. This manure is obtained from plants and certain crops that improve the soil. For example, cover crops can be used as green fertilizers.
Covering plants are cut, or they remain in the field as a whole. The plants dry out and provide mulch for the soil cover. Cover crops are planted post-harvest or as part of a crop rotation during the growing season.
Manure is also able to prevent washing out of the nutrient-rich topsoil. This advantage plays a vital role during the rainy season. Organic agriculture is inextricably linked with this type of fertilizer, which is also essential in sustainable crop management.
The practice of no-till will preserve the structure of the soil and protect the topsoil. It significantly improves the soil’s ability to absorb water, reducing erosion and pollution of water bodies as well as groundwater. In addition, this method slows down the evaporation of moisture from the soil, which is beneficial during drought and increases the efficiency of irrigation. Modern agricultural equipment for non-tillage farming enables farmers to sew their fields, saving time and money. Unlike traditional tillage methods, non-tillage practicing does not require multiple passes through the field.
Benefits of sustainable techniques application
Applying sustainable agriculture practices empowers farmers to improve the efficiency of their resources, including water and fertilizers. Most sustainable practices aim to focus on the needs of individual sites when allocating resources, which can lead to notable savings. Improving productivity and increasing profitability are also among the benefits of sustainable management practices.
Cover crop cultivation, like crop rotation, improves soil structure and fertility. Healthy soil, in turn, is home to many organisms. Described practices have a positive impact on the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems. Crop management techniques application allows farmers to save time, for example, during planting, if they use zero-till. Reducing the negative impact on the environment is also a vital advantage.