There are lots of factors responsible for the productivity of crops in agriculture. Factors such as land can not be overlooked. The size and topography (structure) of the land play a great role in the yield and farming method to employ that will yield the highest productivity. Strip cropping is the most desirable method to achieve increased productivity on sloppy land as well as to protect the soil from erosion.
Purpose of strip cropping
The growing of crops in strips is known as strip cropping. Strip cropping is a method of farming that involves the alternation of close strip crops such as cotton, corn, sugar beets, soybeans, etc with small grains such as millet, wheat, or hay. It is usually employed on sloppy land and also where this method remains the only available solution to prevent erosion .
It helps preserve the fertility of the soil by forming a water dam in between the strips; therefore, nutrients that would have been lost due to runoff are otherwise retained in the dam. Some plant parts absorb more nutrients and minerals than other parts.
During erosion, when water reaches the soil with low minerals which constitutes the strength of the soil, it, therefore, washes the topsoil away, stripping it of the little available nutrients. This is otherwise avoided by the strip of soil which reduces the pressure of the water making it difficult to wash the soil away; thereby, maintaining the soil fertility.
Aside from improving soil fertility, field strip cropping reduces soil erosion. Due to the strip of soil in between the crops, erosion of wind and water is prevented, since the strip serves as a break in the movement of both water and wind.
It also enhances water infiltration by allowing the soil to absorb a large amount of water which forms a dam in the strip. Thereby, improving the growth of the crop.
Other benefits of strip farming include; retaining soil moisture, fixing nitrogen into the soil, controlling pests, attracting pollinators, etc.
Types of strip cropping
There are several types of strip cropping employed on the soil and they are primarily based on the soil topography and the type of erosion to be controlled.
1. Wind strip cropping
This type is usually adopted on land that is leveled or almost leveled and is prone to wind erosion. The strip crops are grown at a right angle to the wind direction, irrespective of the contour.
This system is aimed at preventing wind erosion which is why the contour which is a major factor in water erosion is not considered.
2. Contour strip cropping
It is recommended on plain land across a slope, it is employed to prevent runoff (the movement of water on the soil surface) which leads to loss of soil fertility . Studies show that combining it with terracing results in the conservation of water and soil.
The size of the strip is determined by the topography of the land. Plants are cultivated in strips at a right angle to the direction of the land slope along the contour. The crops are grown in a rotational sequence.
This is to ensure plants are grown in order and maintained throughout the year, with or without planting in rotation.
3. Buffer strip cropping
Buffer strip cropping refers to the practice of planting strips of vegetation, typically grasses or legumes, along the edges of fields or water bodies. The strips are 10- 20m apart and each of which is about 2-4 meters in width, which can either be uniform or not and can be laid at the edge of the slope. The main aim of this type is to prevent soil erosion.
By trapping sediment and absorbing excess nutrients, it helps maintain water quality and preserves the integrity of adjacent ecosystems. This sustainable technique not only conserves soil but also promotes biodiversity and supports sustainable land management practices.
4. Field strip cropping
This is similar to contour strip cropping but with some modifications. In this system, crops are placed parallel not rotational, unlike the contour. The plants are laid across the slope which may or may not be on the contour based on the structure of the land.
It is commonly adopted on irregular lands because it becomes difficult to make the layout for contour strip cropping. The sloppy area of the land is used for grass waterways since it is not suitable for field.
It is a farming method that ensures sloppy lands are utilized to give maximum productivity as well as protect the land from soil erosion. The different type of strip cropping is to ensure all land topographical features are taken into account to maximize the overall output of the farm.
Aside from protecting the soil from erosion and ensuring maximum use of the sloppy land, there are several other benefits of strip cropping on the plant which increase plant yield, making it the best option in sloped areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does strip cropping prevent soil erosion and helps in soil conservation?
It plays a vital role in soil conservation by employing a simple yet effective technique. By planting alternating strips of different crops, the soil’s surface is shielded from the erosive forces of wind and water.
The taller crops act as natural barriers, reducing the speed and impact of wind, while the intercropped plants help retain moisture and bind the soil together. This method not only prevents soil erosion but also promotes biodiversity and enhances overall soil health, making it a sustainable practice for farming.
2. What is strip harvesting in agriculture?
Strip harvesting in agriculture refers to a technique where crops are harvested in a systematic and sequential manner, one strip at a time. This approach involves harvesting a narrow strip of the field while leaving the rest untouched.
By implementing strip harvesting, farmers can ensure a continuous supply of crops while allowing the remaining plants to mature and develop further. This method also aids in better resource allocation and efficient utilization of labor and machinery, resulting in optimized harvests and improved overall agricultural productivity.
3. Is strip cropping sustainable?
Yes, it is sustainable. It prevents soil erosion, retains moisture, and promotes biodiversity. It is a long-term solution for preserving soil quality and minimizing environmental impact in agriculture.
4. What is stripping?
In the context of agriculture, stripping refers to the process of removing unwanted vegetation or cover crops from a field. It involves cutting or uprooting plants to clear the land for cultivation or planting desired crops.
Stripping is typically done to eliminate competition for nutrients, sunlight, and water, allowing the preferred crops to grow more effectively. This practice helps farmers prepare the soil for cultivation and maximize the productivity of their chosen crops.
5. What is strip till?
Strip till is a conservation tillage technique used in agriculture. It involves tilling or cultivating only a narrow strip of soil where seeds will be planted, while leaving the remaining soil undisturbed. This method helps conserve soil moisture and reduce erosion by preserving the natural structure and organic matter in the unplowed areas.
Strip till also offers precise seed placement and nutrient application, optimizing crop growth and yield. By minimizing soil disturbance, strip tillage promotes sustainable farming practices and supports long-term soil health.
6. Why is soil erosion a problem?
Soil erosion is a significant problem due to its adverse impacts on both the environment and agriculture. Firstly, it leads to the loss of fertile topsoil, which contains essential nutrients necessary for plant growth. This reduces agricultural productivity and can result in food insecurity.
Secondly, soil erosion disrupts ecosystems, pollutes water bodies with sediment, and harms aquatic life. It also exacerbates flooding and landslides.
Lastly, soil erosion contributes to climate change as it releases stored carbon into the atmosphere. Addressing soil erosion is crucial for sustainable land management and preserving the Earth’s resources.Whats