What are the characteristics of shifting cultivation?

By Ritesh|Updated : September 7th, 2022

Shifting cultivation is a primitive form of land use, usually found in the tropical rainforests and scrublands of central Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia.

  • Farmers in this farming system grow food only for their families
  • Some small surpluses are bartered or bartered (commodity-for-commodity exchange) or sold for cash in neighboring markets

Characteristics of Shifting Cultivation

The migratory population is thus self-sufficient with a high degree of economic independence, and the resulting economy is almost static with little chance of rapid improvement.

The characteristics of shifting cultivation are as follows:

  • Field rotation
  • Fire is used to cleanse the earth.
  • The land is left fallow for several years to allow regeneration.
  • The seeds are sown in the ashes after the first monsoon rains, usually harvested from September to October.
  • Human labor as the primary input
  • Draft animals are not used.

Sorting Cultivation:

  • Sorting requires clearing the jungle.
  • However, cutting down trees and clearing bushes accelerates soil erosion and accentuates rainfall variability, leading to drought or flooding.

Problems and Prospects:

  • The overall impact is decreased soil fertility.
  • Ecosystems are losing their resilience characteristics.
  • A population dependent on cultivation faces food shortages, fuelwood, and fodder.
  • As a result, the nutritional standard decreases.


What are the characteristics of shifting cultivation?

Field rotation rather than crop rotation, the absence of fertilization and draught animals, the employment of only human labor, the use of a stick or hoe, and short rotation periods with lengthy fallow periods have been defined as the major characteristics of shifting farming.


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