What Is Shifting Cultivation?

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Shifting cultivation, also known as slash and burn agriculture, is an agricultural system that involves clearing a section of land and using it for farming activities for a relatively short time before abandoning it. Farmers then typically shift their agricultural operations to a new section of freshly cleared land.

In shifting cultivation systems, farmers use cleared land for agricultural activities until the soil becomes depleted. Some clear land by cutting down vegetation and setting fire to the remaining foliage to create space and add nutrients from the ash to the soil. Once the soil is depleted, the farmers allow natural vegetation to cover the piece of land, or they use it for long-term cyclical farming operations.