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In agriculture, multiple cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in the same piece of land in same growing seasons instead of one crop. It is a form of polyculture. It can take the form of double-cropping, in which a second crop is planted after the first has been harvested, or relay cropping, in which the second crop is started amidst the first crop before it has been harvested. A related practice, companion planting, is sometimes used in gardening and intensive cultivation of vegetables and fruits. One example of multi-cropping is tomatoes + onions + marigold; the marigolds repel some tomato pests. Mixed cropping is found in many agricultural traditions. In the Garhwal Himalaya of India, a practice called baranaja involves sowing 12 or more crops on the same plot, including various types of beans, grains, and millets, and harvesting them at different times.
In the cultivation of rice, multiple cropping requires effective irrigation, especially in areas with a dry season. Rain that falls during the wet season permits the cultivation of rice during that period, but during the other half of the year, water cannot be channeled into the rice fields without an irrigation system. The Green Revolution in Asia led to the development of high-yield varieties of rice, which required a substantially shorter growing season of 100 days, as opposed to traditional varieties, which needed 150 to 185 days. Due to this, multiple cropping became more prevalent in Asian countries.
- Improving nutrition through home gardening Home Garden Technology Leaflet 12: Multiple cropping, FAO, 2001
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