A Comprehensive Look at Different Types of Farming in India

Published on:
September 19, 2023

India, with its diverse landscapes and rich agricultural heritage, has cultivated a multitude of farming practices over centuries. Our country holds the second position globally in agriculture, yielding a diverse range of raw materials and crops, and that underscores its global agricultural significance. This substantial contribution is made possible through the continuous adoption of evolving farming equipment and technologies, empowering Indian farmers to drive local and national development.

The agricultural landscape in India mirrors the country's cultural and geographical diversity. In 2023, it embraced a fusion of traditional and modern farming methods, adapting to sociocultural practices, climate variations, and other factors. These diverse farming systems cater to India's multifaceted needs, ranging from subsistence farming and organic farming to industrial farming. Along with these three main types of farming, there are other types. This article on farming in India unveils different types of farming that sustain a population of over a billion people.

13 Different Types of Farming in India

1. Subsistence Farming

In India, a lot of farmers engage in subsistence farming primarily to sustain their livelihoods rather than seeking substantial profits from their harvests. Their cultivation is directed toward providing for themselves and their families. These farmers typically work with small land holdings, employing rudimentary farming tools. 

Subsistence farming methods typically do not incorporate the use of fertilizers and high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds. Nevertheless, despite their reliance on manual labour, these farmers often have essential amenities such as irrigation and electricity.

This traditional farming approach results in relatively modest yields. The bulk of the produce is consumed by the family, leaving only a minimal surplus available for sale in the market.

2. Intensive and Extensive Farming

From different types of farming in India, Intensive farming entails achieving maximum production within confined land constraints, utilizing every available human and capital resource to its fullest potential. This method enables farmers to cultivate multiple crops annually and demands substantial capital investment and labour input for each piece of land. Typically, intensive farming is practised in densely populated regions of India.

In contrast, extensive farming, often referred to as mechanical farming, represents a more advanced approach characterized by extensive machinery usage. This form of agriculture in India focuses on cultivating a single crop per year, requiring relatively less labour and capital per hectare in comparison to intensive farming.

3. Commercial Farming

It encompasses the extensive cultivation of crops with the primary objective of exporting these products to other nations, thereby bolstering the country's foreign reserves. This method of farming is predominantly practised in regions such as Punjab, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, and Haryana. The principal crops cultivated in these areas include wheat, cotton, sugarcane, and corn. This farming approach employs various techniques, including the use of pesticides, fertilizers, high-yield variety (HYV) seeds, and more, to achieve significant yields.

4. Plantation Farming

This type of farming encompasses the cultivation of extensive areas with bushes or trees. This method places a strong emphasis on capital investment and demands effective management skills, technical expertise, fertilizers, modern machinery, and improved irrigation and transportation infrastructure, among other factors. Typically, plantation farming revolves around the cultivation of single crops such as tea, rubber, coconut, spices, coffee, and fruit crops. These crops yield continuous harvests over many years.

The primary objective of plantation farming is to export its products, emphasizing the marketing prowess of the cultivated crop. This agricultural approach is predominantly practised in regions like Karnataka, Kerala, Assam, and Maharashtra.

Also Read: Advantages of Organic Farming

5. Dryland Farming

It involves cultivating crops without relying on irrigation systems, primarily in regions with insufficient or low rainfall, typically ranging from 750 mm to 500 mm or even less. In this farming approach, moisture conservation is achieved by cultivating specific drought-resistant crops like gram, bajra, jowar, and peas, which have lower water requirements. Dryland farming is typically practiced in arid regions, including north-western India, western, and central India.

6. Wetland Farming

This type of farming is particularly suited for the monsoon season, relying on rainfall and also adaptable to well-irrigated regions. It primarily involves the cultivation of crops such as rice, sugarcane, and jute. These forms of agriculture are prevalent in the northern, western ghats, and northeastern regions of India.

7. Mixed Farming

It encompasses the simultaneous cultivation of two or more crops while also raising animals. This method enables the concurrent growth of multiple crops, even when they have varying maturation periods. Successful mixed farming necessitates adequate rainfall or reliable irrigation facilities.

8. Organic Farming

It is a widely embraced approach that eliminates the use of growth regulators, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and similar chemicals. Unlike other types of farming, it relies on crop residues, off-farm organic waste, animal manures, and crop rotation to preserve soil quality and sustain productivity. Consequently, this method encompasses both the natural rearing of animals and the cultivation of plants in an organic manner.

9. Co-operative Farming

Cooperative farming represents an innovative approach characterized by the collective sharing of farming resources such as pesticides, fertilizers, and farming equipment such as tractors, without pooling the land itself. From different types of farming in India, this emerging farming method strives to unify and organize the land resources of farmers, enabling them to utilize all available lands to their maximum fertility potential for crop cultivation.

10. Terrace Agriculture 

Terrace agriculture involves the creation of terraces by cutting into the slopes of hills and mountains, creating permanent agricultural land. In hilly and mountainous regions where flat land is scarce, terraces are constructed to establish small, leveled plots for farming. This method of farming in India also aids in the prevention of soil erosion, which is evident in the form of terraces on mountain slopes.

11. Crop Rotation

In India, this form of agriculture is practiced through a structured approach of sequentially cultivating specific crops in a predetermined rotation pattern. The aim is to sustain soil fertility. The rotation cycle of crops can vary in duration, ranging from one year to more than a year.

12. Dairy Farming

The practice primarily involves the rearing of livestock for milk production. India stands out with its threefold greater number of dairy animals compared to the United States, yielding an impressive 75 million tons of milk each year. This form of agriculture falls within the category of subsistence farming, with approximately 40% of Indian farmers engaging in milk production. It serves as a livestock venture that provides a relatively accessible avenue for farmers to improve their livelihoods. Steady sales of milk can facilitate a shift from subsistence farming to income generation. In India, approximately 40 million households rely partially on milk production for their livelihoods.

13. Ley Farming

In India, Ley farming is employed in arid regions with the objective of rejuvenating soil fertility. It involves a planned rotation of food grains and grasses within a specific area. This farming technique is also encouraged as a means of practicing organic farming in drylands. It serves to rehabilitate and compensate for crop failures caused by frequent droughts. It accomplishes this by enhancing and sustaining soil fertility through the utilization of natural soil biological processes.

To Wrap it Up

Agriculture in India stands as a linchpin of the nation's economic prosperity, significantly impacting its GDP and national income. This vital sector not only employs two-thirds of the country's workforce but also fulfils the critical role of an ever-expanding population. Beyond sustenance, agriculture fuels capital formation, serving as a catalyst for economic growth. Its provision of raw materials to agro-based industries such as sugar, jute, cotton textiles, and vanaspati further bolsters industrial development. 

Moreover, agriculture broadens the market for industrial products and plays a pivotal role in both domestic and international trade and commerce. As a prime revenue source for central and state budgets, it significantly contributes to government finances. Additionally, agriculture provides a substantial labour force, benefiting various sectors, including construction. Lastly, India's agriculture sector enjoys a competitive advantage in several export commodities due to low labour costs and self-sufficiency in input supply.

Types of Farming FAQs

1. What are the 4 different types of farming in India?

The four primary types of agriculture are shifting cultivation, subsistence farming, pastoralism, and intensive farming. Shifting cultivation involves rotating fields to maintain soil fertility, while subsistence farming focuses on producing enough food for the farmer's family. Pastoralism centers on raising and herding livestock, and intensive farming employs modern techniques to maximize production on limited land. These categories represent diverse agricultural practices worldwide.

2. What are the 8 stages of farming?

The 8 stages of farming are:
  • Soil Preparation
  • Sowing
  • Manuring
  • Irrigation
  • Weeding
  • Harvesting
  • Threshing
  • Storage
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