Crop Production and Management
Agriculture is the science, which specifically deals with the various tactics or the strategies used to grow plants and raise livestock or animal husbandry to suit human needs. When plants are grown on a large scale for consumption purposes, they are called to be crops. These crops are divided based on the seasons in which they grow:
- Kharif Crops-These crops are sown during the early monsoon season, which generally varies according to the crop and region. In India, they are usually cropped in the rainy season, June and July. These crops are harvested in September and October at the end of the monsoon season. Paddy is the main crop of Kharif.
- Rabi Crops– Rabi crops are also known as winter crops because they are sown during the onset of winter, which is between October and November. Rabi crops in India are typically harvested in the spring months of March and April. A major Rabi crop is wheat
Crop Production and Management
65% of the population in India are practicing Agriculture (to a recent survey). Crop production management is the aspect of warranting good productivity (yield) on the farms. One of the alarming global concerns these days is food insecurity, which is an urgent problem. Rapid population growth also demands exponential growth in agricultural output these days. Farming should be more efficient and effective. Improved crop production and management are one of the things that will help us enhance food production. Agricultural practices involved in crop production and management include land preparation, seeding, Supplementation with manures and fertilizers, Irrigation, Managing pests and diseases, Managing weeds, Harvesting, and Storage.
Tillage involves loosening and turning soil upside down to level the land and make it porous. Soil clods/lumps are removed in this process. It helps the soil to take air so that the roots breathe easily through their micropores. As a result of tillage, nutrients and minerals in lower layers of soil are brought to the surface which will be available for plants to uptake for their growth and development, enhancing the soil fertility.
Seed sowing involves putting seeds at a specific depth in the soil. The seeds sown should be disease and pathogen-free. Some are seeded directly, and others are transplanted from seedlings grown in a nursery. The seed spacing is specified, which changes from crop to crop, with the canopy establishment of the plant. Seed sowing methods include Traditional/long-established methods, Dibbling, Broadcasting (throwing seeds), Seed drops behind the plow, and Transplanting seedlings.
Manures and Fertilizers usage
Plant development and the establishment are affected by a lack of nutrients in the soil. So, manures and fertilizers (supplements) are used to develop soil fertility, which promotes plant growth. Compost pits are used to make manure, which is made up of decaying plant and animal waste. In contrast, fertilizers are industrially produced and contain the necessary nutrients for different types of plants. Fertilizers are more efficacious than manures in terms of giving rapid results. They can, however, make the land infertile if applied too much, leading to salt accumulation and soil cresting.
Manures include farmyard manure(FYM such as cow or buffalo dung), green leaf manures where Fertilizers include Nitrogen(N), Potassium(P), Phosphorus(K), and the complexes, macronutrients
Crops require moisture content to grow, establish and improve productivity in terms of yield, so water is given. Therefore, irrigation is the process of supplying water to plants/crops. Nutrient mobility is increased, which is readily available to plants at the root level. Sources of irrigation: Ponds, canals, tube wells, and Reservoirs. Irrigation provides moisture to plants, development, and helps in germination, and other operations. Some modern irrigation systems, such as drip and sprinkler irrigation, can provide effective irrigation to crops.
Types of Irrigation
- Manual irrigation: This is a labour-intensive and time-consuming irrigation method. Manual labour is used to distribute water using watering cans.
- Drip irrigation: Drip irrigation is the most effective way to supply water and nutrients to crops. It provides water and nutrients straight to the root zone of the plant in the proper amounts and at the right time, ensuring that each plant gets its requirements. Horticulture crops are mostly irrigated with drip irrigation.
- Sprinkler Irrigation: Sprinkler irrigation is a technique for distributing irrigation water through pipes and spray heads to irrigate the whole soil surface.
Undesired/Unwanted crops are called weeds. These compete for nutrients with the main crop, reducing the main crop’s nutrient intake and restricting their growth. Some weeds mimic the main crop for survival at some stages of the crop, which is weed mimicry.
Pest and diseases increase and the growth of the main crop gets affected. Hence, it is of utmost importance to manage the weeds during the main stages of crops, like flowering and fruiting.
Weeds are removed by weeding. Types of weeding are-
- Manual weeding: It is a labor-intensive method of weeding. Weeds are removed with the help of hands or khurpi from the field. It is an effective method, as they are removed along with the roots, which decreases the chances of emerging again.
- Mechanical weeding: This method saves you a lot of time. Mechanical weeders are the instruments that are used to remove the weeds. Examples – Cono-weeder, Power tiller, Basket hoe
- Chemical weeding: Herbicides/Weedicides are chemicals used to remove weeds. These are selective and non-selective. (cide means kill)
- Selective herbicides – This target only the weeds without affecting the main crop.
- Non-selective herbicides – These herbicides harm both the main crop and the weeds when applied. Hence, it should be sprayed extremely careful while using them.
Harvesting occurs when the plant’s edible parts have reached their desired maturity and all nutrients have formed on them. Mechanical harvesting, on the other hand, is now utilized – equipment like machines are used to harvest and thresh crops all at once.
- Threshing involves separating grains from harvested crops. It’s either done mechanically or with animals.
- By winnowing, grain is separated from the chaff. It can be done either manually or mechanically.
If the grains are to be preserved for prolonged periods, they must be carefully stored. They should be kept free of pests and moisture. Before storing the freshly harvested seeds, they should be dried. This helps to keep microbes and pests away. The grains are gathered, sorted, and kept in airtight metal containers or jute sacks. To prevent them from being damaged at home, dried neem leaves are applied. To keep pests and insects away, large quantities of grains are kept in granaries or silos with particular chemical treatments.
Question 1: When it comes to crop production, what are the steps involved?
The important steps involved in crop production and management are:
- Land/soil preparation
- Sowing seeds
- Manure and Fertilizers usage
- Irrigating crops
- Weed Management
- Harvesting of produce
- Storage of produce
Question 2: What are Herbicides?
Herbicides are also known as weedicides which are used as a chemical control to eradicate weeds.
Question 3: What are the factors on which crop production and management depend?
Factors that affect crop production and management are:
- Wind velocity
- Soil Moisture.
- Soil fertility.
Question 4: Why are chemical fertilizers dangerous when used in excess?
When chemical fertilizers are overused, they can contribute to soil acidity and soil crust, lowering organic matter and humus concentrations in the soil and beneficial species, restricting plant development, affecting soil pH, increasing pests, and even releasing greenhouse gases(GHGs).
Question 5: Production and management of crops are important, but why?
- Agriculture is the only source of food for the whole world. As a result, it is critical to properly cultivate and store harvested crops.
- During crop production, the soil should be thoroughly loosened and aerated.
- The application of manure and fertilizer must be done carefully. The soil is damaged by too much fertilizer, while the crop is nutritionally deficient when too little fertilizer is applied.
- Irrigation of the crops should be done regularly.
- Plants that are undesired in cultivated areas should be removed. The nutrients supplied to the crop are absorbed by these plants, which obstructs their growth and development.
- Harvesting ripe crops can be done either mechanically or manually.
- To protect the grains from pests and diseases, they are dried and stored.