Multiple cropping, growing more than one crop in the same field, is an important management strategy in subtropical and tropical agriculture and in irrigated agriculture. Depending on the type of multiple cropping, it is used to intensify or diversify production, reduce the use of fertilizer and pesticides or for risk management and economic reasons.
In this research article, we use crop calendars, crop area statistics and Earth observation techniques to capture multiple cropping areas in a global cropland map. We map double and triple cropping systems and estimate the potential to extend multiple cropping areas.
- Multiple cropping accounts for 12% of global cropland, 135 million hectares.
- Almost half of all rice and about one tenth of all wheat and maize is grown in multiple cropping systems.
- Potential for intensifying or diversifying on another 87-395 million hectares but with uncertain environmental consequences.
Multiple cropping can increase production and income and has additional benefits – increased crop diversity, improved functioning of agricultural systems, spare land for biodiversity or other uses and reduced use of inorganic fertilizer and pesticides.