Disadvantages of Shifting Cultivation 

16th February, 2024


Also known as slash-and-burn agriculture, shifting cultivation is a traditional practice where communities clear forest plots, cultivate for a few seasons, abandon them as fertility declines, and move to new areas.


Clearing new plots contributes to significant forest loss, particularly in ecologically sensitive areas like rainforests. 

Loss of Biodiversity 

Converting diverse ecosystems to monoculture crop plots decreases habitat for countless species, impacting the complex food web within forests. 

Soil Erosion

Removing trees strips the protective layer, leaving soil vulnerable to wind and water erosion, stripping it of vital nutrients. 

Soil Fertility Decline 

Without long fallow periods, soil rapidly loses nutrients, requiring more land to be cleared sooner, fueling a destructive cycle. 

Air Pollution 

Large-scale burns to clear plots to release carbon dioxide and create smoke and particulate matter, harming both local air quality and contributing to climate change. 

Water Contamination 

Without tree cover and root networks, rain washes soil and potential pollutants into rivers and streams, harming aquatic life and impacting water quality downstream. 

Limited Production Capacity

This system's low nutrient input and short cultivation periods can make it unproductive on a large scale and challenging to support larger populations in a confined area. 

Land Conflicts

As populations grow and traditional fallow periods can't be maintained, tensions arise in land ownership and resource availability, sometimes leading to conflict.