The primary disadvantage of shifting cultivation, also called slash and burn or swidden agriculture, is the destruction of large areas of land, primarily crop fields and tracts of forest. When performed improperly, slash and burn can make once-fertile lands unable to support the new growth of crops and plants. Slash and burn may cause environmental and economic consequences by reducing the growth potential for crops in certain areas, which limits the variety and quantity of agricultural goods farmers can produce.
Shifting agriculture is an agricultural practice that dates back to ancient history. Slash and burn was once used throughout the world, and is still used by millions of farmers. Slash and burn involves cultivating fields for production by using a controlled burn. These fires work by burning fields, which eventually return to a natural state over time, and become capable of supporting new life such as native plants and trees.
Slash and burn produces several benefits such as converting biomass or decayed plant matter into ashes and soils rich in nutrients. It can also prevent the infestation of pests and weeds. Shifting agriculture, however, can be an unsustainable method of farming and may leave forest areas unable to support plants, animals and many types of crops.