The key difference between shifting cultivation and nomadic herding is that in shifting cultivation, people do not travel with their animals, while in nomadic herding, a group of people travel to different places with their animals.
Subsistence farming is a type of farming done to meet the needs of the farmer’s family. This type of farming utilizes a low level of technology and household labour. It is done in small areas and produces a little outcome. Intensive subsistence and primitive subsistence farming are two types of subsistence farming. There are two types of primitive subsistence farming as shifting cultivation and nomadic herding. In shifting cultivation, small plots are cleared and cultivated. Then the cultivation is shifted to another new plot, leaving the cultivated area for fallow vegetation to grow. In nomadic herding, nomads travel to different places with their herds searching for new pastures and cultivate to fulfil the needs of the group.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Shifting Cultivation
3. What is Nomadic Herding
4. Similarities Between Shifting Cultivation and Nomadic Herding
5. Side by Side Comparison – Shifting Cultivation vs Nomadic Herding in Tabular Form
What is Shifting Cultivation?
Shifting cultivation is a type of farming practise in which a person cultivates a small plot of land and then abandons the plot for fallowing and then moves the cultivation into a new plot. In this method, the farmer uses plots of lands temporarily for his cultivation. The lands are usually cleared by fire. The length of the cropping period in a plot is relatively short in comparison to the fallowing period. The length of the fallowing is relatively too long. Shifting cultivation is not a popular farming method. It is discouraged and gradually replaced by intensively used fields close to the home site. Farmers who do shifting cultivation will have to make arrangements for temporary shelter near their fields since they may have permanent homes in villages.
Shifting cultivation is basically done by a person or a family. It can be done by the people of a village as well. This type of cultivation is not permanent and also not continuous. Shifting cultivation is considered a poor system of land utilization and a significant cause of permanent deforestation. In some regions of the world, shifting cultivation is the primary cause of deforestation. Though the fallow period is relatively long (usually more than five years), the time is not sufficient for the restoration of soil fertility.
What is Nomadic Herding?
Nomadic herding is the simplest form of pastoralism in which nomadic herders roam with their animals, depending on them to produce food for their families. Generally, nomadic herders have no home base. They move from place to place with their animals, searching for new pastures. When they find better grazing areas for their animals, animals will produce better milk, better butter, better meat, and healthier herds, which bring them a better income. Moreover, they fulfil their need for clothing, shelter and recreation depending on the herds. Nomadic herds include sheep, cattle, goats, camels, horses and reindeers. Sheep provide wool, meat, and hides. Horses are used for transportation, and they play a major part in many religious and cultural festivities, such as horse races and horsemanship skills contests, etc.
At present, nomadic herding is restricted to regions such as Saharan Africa (Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Libya, Algeria), the southwestern and central parts of Asia, the northern parts of the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland) and northern Canada.
What are the Similarities Between Shifting Cultivation and Nomadic Herding?
- Both shifting cultivation and nomadic herding are two types of primitive subsistence farming.
- Both types of farming are done temporarily.
- Indigenous communities prefer to carry out this type of farming systems.
What is the Difference Between Shifting Cultivation and Nomadic Herding?
Shifting cultivation is a type of farming practise in which relatively short periods of cultivation are followed by relatively long periods of fallowing. Nomadic herding is a form of pastoralism in which nomads travel from one grazing area to another with their animals. So, this is the key difference between shifting cultivation and nomadic herding. A farmer clears a plot of land from the forest and cultivates crops in shifting cultivation while cultivating crops is not the main concern in nomadic herding.
The below infographic tabulates the differences between shifting cultivation and nomadic herding for side by side comparison.
Summary – Shifting Cultivation vs Nomadic Herding
Shifting cultivation and nomadic herding are two types of resource-based subsistence farming methods. In shifting cultivation, an area of forest is cleared, the debris is burnt and cultivated for several years and then abandoned. The fallow period is too long, usually more than five years than the cropping period. In nomadic herding, small tribal or extended family groups travel to different places, especially from one grazing area to another. While roaming, they fulfil their needs for shelter, food and other requirements depending on their animals. Thus, this summarizes the difference between shifting cultivation and nomadic herding.
1. “Nomadic Herding: An Ecological System of Agriculture.” Your Article Library, 5 Dec. 2014, Available here.
2. “Chapter 4: The State of Shifting Cultivation in the Study Area.” Shifting Cultivation in Bhutan: A Gradual Approach to Modifying Land Use Patterns. A Case Study from Pema Gatshel District, Bhutan, Available here.