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What Is and How Crops are Arranged
in Row Planting

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Row planting as applied in conventional horizontal farming or gardening is a system of growing crops in linear pattern in at least one direction rather than planting without any distinct arrangement. It is practiced in most crops whether direct seeded, transplanted, or grown from vegetative planting materials, both in monocropping and multiple cropping.

Crops are planted in rows or straight lines, either singly or in multiple rows, mainly to enhance maximum yields as well as for convenience. An east-west row orientation is preferred to maximize light absorption, but this is not always possible. In many cases the topography that includes the shape, terrain and slope of the land, as well as the location of existing vegetation, roads, irrigation lines, buildings and physical barriers, dictate the row orientation.

The advantages of row planting over broadcasting or scatter planting include the following:

  1.  Light exposure is maximized. Conversely, the excessive shading effect of other plants is minimized thus favoring more efficient photosynthesis and improved crop yield; 
  2. Wind passage along the interrows is enhanced which increases gas exchanges and prevents excessive humidity; 
  3. Access through the interrows facilitates cultivation, weeding, and other farm operations including hauling; 
  4. Movement within the crop area is more convenient and allows close inspection of individual plants;  
  5. Visibility is enhanced; and
  6. It is easy to calculate or count the plant population in a given farm area. 

Row Planting Arrangement

Row-planted crops are either arranged in equidistant single rows or in multiple rows. Planting in single rows is most common in monocropping or sole cropping, the growing of a single crop.

Different systems of planting arrangement within the row are practiced in both single and multiple row planting, depending on the characteristics and requirement of the crop, particularly its extent of canopy expansion. In the hill method of planting by direct seeding, the crops are arranged, singly or in group, in uniform distances. But in the drill method, the only consideration is a uniform number of plants per linear meter.

In row-planted fruit trees and other perennial crops like coconut, oil palm and rubber, the common types of planting or spatial arrangement are the squarerectangularquincunx, and triangular or hexagonal (click here to read Planting Patterns for Orchard Establishment).

Multiple Row Planting Arrangement

Multiple row planting is a system of growing crops in blocks or strips of 2 or more rows. The adjacent blocks are separated by a space which may remain vacant or planted to other crops. This planting arrangement is common in multiple cropping in which two or more crops are grown in the same piece of land. It is also employed in monocropping where an alley wide enough to facilitate passage is needed.

Coconut and other perennial crops are often intercropped with multiple rows of annual crops like corn and pineapple. This is a common practice of maximizing the use of vacant interrow spaces when the maincrop has not fully developed thus allowing sufficient light exposure. In some farms, the intercrop consists of multiple rows of such crops as coffee, cacao and banana. In this system, both single row planting (for the maincrop) and multiple row planting (for the intercrop) are combined.

In vegetable production that employs close spacing and where crops should be within easy reach, the common practice is to plant in plots having multiple rows. A space between plots is provided to allow passage.

In banana, both single and multiple row arrangement are practiced. It can be planted in double rows with a spacing of (3.5 + 1.5) m x 2 m which means that the two rows in pair are 1.5 m apart and plants are 2 m apart within each row, with an alley of 3.5 m between double rows. With this planting arrangement, the planting density per hectare will be 2000. For the ‘Singapore Spanish’ pineapple, the spacing may be (90 + 60) cm x 30 cm which will result to a density of 4.4 plants per sq meter. Papaya can also be planted in double rows with a spacing of (3.25 + 1.75) m x 2.4 m or (2.5 + 1.5) m x 2 m (Verheij EWM, Coronel RE (eds.). 1992. Edible fruits and nuts. Plant Resources of South East Asia No. 2. Bogor, Indonesia: PROSEA. 447 p.).

Spatial Arrangement in Intercropping

Spatial arrangement is the systematic apportioning of the farm area or any growing surface for crop production. In multiple cropping by intercropping, the intercrop can be planted in any of the following ways: (1) within the rows of the maincrop, (2) between the rows of the maincrop, and (3) in replacement series (Abellanosa AL, HM Pava. 1987. An Introduction to Crop Science. Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Bukidnon, Phils.: Publications Office. p. 135-136).

Planting of the intercrop between two adjacent hills within the same row of the main crop allows interrow cultivation but the intercrop has limited exposure to sunlight. This is exemplified by the planting of peanut or mungbean between corn plants within the same row or two coffee plants that are 3 m apart between coconut plants.

Single row planting of the intercrop can also be done between the rows of the maincrop. For example, peanut or mungbean can be dibbled between two adjacent rows of corn. This system of planting arrangement is likewise common in coconut farms where fruit trees like durian, lanzones and mangosteen are grown in single rows between coconut.

In replacement series, one or more rows that are intended for the maincrop are replaced with the intercrop. For example, a 3:2 corn+mungbean intercrop means that for every 4 rows that are intended for sole corn, only 3 rows are planted to corn and one row may be substituted with 2 rows of mungbean. Another practice is in strip intercropping, for example the simultaneous growing of 6 rows corn and 12 rows soybean in alternating strips. These particular examples result to multiple row arrangement.

(Ben G. Bareja April 2011)

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