Concept: Steps in Crop Production
- The practice of growing crops in a large area is called agriculture.
- The primary aim of agriculture is to fulfil the demand for food of a large population worldwide.
- The practice of agriculture helps humans in the following ways—
- It provides food.
- It provides the raw materials for agro-based industries.
- It provides feed for the livestock.
- The waste material produced from agricultural fields is used for making manure and biogas.
- It is the source of livelihood for a lot of people.
- It plays a vital role in the economy of a country.
Steps in agriculture:
The process of growing crops requires different inputs at every step. Each step is monitored based on the climatic conditions, type of soil, and crops grown.
Let us discuss the different steps involved in agriculture.
- Preparation of soil:
- Levelling of soil:
The first step in agriculture deals with preparing the soil before sowing the seeds. The steps that are followed while preparing the soil for planting the seeds are mentioned below.
- The soil in the field is brought to a level with the help of a leveller and tractor.
- The soil is tilled or ploughed with the help of a tractor and plough.
- Ploughing helps in the aeration of the soil and tilling of fresh nutrients to the topmost layer.
- Air occupies the space present between the soil particles. It is necessary for roots to carry out the gaseous exchange. Otherwise, the plants start to decay gradually.
- The earthworm has a natural capability of aerating the soil. These eat soil and egest soil-like excreta. While doing so they keep going in and out of the soil, creating small channels which help exchange gases.
- Adding nutrients to the soil is called manuring.
- Plant nutrients can be both biodegradable and non-biodegradable.
- Two types of plant nutrients generally used are manure and fertilisers.
Examples of Manure: Manure made from cow dung, mustard cake, vermi compost etc
Examples of fertilisers: Urea, potassium chloride, Superphosphate, ammonia, etc.
Differences between manure and fertilisers:
- Seeds are small structures that contain tiny plantlets in them.
- Before the seeds are sown, they are selected and sorted.
- For this purpose, seeds are dipped in water. The seeds that start floating on the surface of the water are removed as they are diseased and hollow.
- Then the seeds are put in the soil, keeping an average gap between them.
- Nowadays, a seed drill is used for sowing the seeds.
- Traditionally, seeds were thrown manually in an irregular manner which often led to the crowding of plants in certain parts of the field. Throwing away seeds in the field in a random way was called broadcasting.
- Seeds are sown at a certain level in the soil. Putting the seeds too deep in the soil will either delay their germination or will not allow the seeds to germinate at all.
- In some crops like rice, tomatoes, and chilies, the seeds are allowed to grow in a small patch of field, and when the plantlets come out, they are collected and planted separately at a distance. Such a practice is called transplantation.
- Once the seeds are sown, the field is irrigated with adequate water and then the seeds are allowed to germinate.
- After that, the fields are irrigated regularly.
- Irrigation is done at different stages of crop development.
- The frequency of irrigation is maximum during the development of flowers in the crops.
- It is minimum after the crop attains maturity and starts ripening.
- Irrigation depends on the following factors—
- Type of crop: Rabi crops require less water, whereas Kharif crops require more water. Certain crops like paddy require standing water in the fields.
- Type of soil: Sandy soil with low water-retaining capacity needs to be irrigated frequently. On the other hand, alluvial, loamy and clayey soils, which have good water-retaining capacity, are irrigated less frequently.
- Atmospheric conditions: During winters, the low atmospheric temperature leads to a decrease in the rate of evaporation. Hence, the frequency of irrigating the fields becomes less, whereas the opposite happens in summers.
- They help in reducing the loss of extra water.
- They ensure that water reaches every part of the field.
- They can be used for irrigating uneven lands also.
Traditional methods of irrigation:
- Rahat system:
- In this method, the water is pulled out of wells by tying buckets on a large wheel-like structure. This wheel is moved by animals like oxen or cows.
- In the moat system, the water is pulled with the help of a pulley.
- The water is either pulled manually or with the help of farm animals.
- In this system, the water is dragged manually from wells using ropes.
Drawbacks of the traditional methods of irrigation:
- They require more labour.
- They are time-consuming.
- They use more water which is wasted often.
- Pests are living organisms that may lead to damage to crops if not controlled.
- Pests can be either insects or rodents.
- Rodents like rats affect the crop by biting and cutting the plant parts and infecting them with several other pathogens.
- Snake, also called the farmer’s friends, helps in controlling the damage to crops by rats by keeping a check on their population.
- Pesticides are chemicals sprayed on crops to protect them from pests.
- They are used in specific amounts. Overuse of pesticides may lead to damage to crops as well as degrade the soil quality.
Examples: Bugs, aphids, cockroaches, ants, etc.
- Weeds are unwanted plants that grow along with the crop.
- These plants are removed before they start maturing.
- Weeds are not allowed to grow with the main crops as they compete with the main plants for space, sunlight, water, and nutrients.
- Removal of weeds from the field is called weeding.
- It can either be done manually by uprooting the plants or it can be done by spraying weedicides.
- Weedicides are chemicals that prohibit the growth of weeds.
Examples:Amaranthus, Chenopodium, Pigweed, etc.
- The process of collecting the ripened crop plants from the fields is called harvesting.
- Harvesting can be done manually by using a sickle or mechanically using a combine.
- A combine is a huge machine designed to perform harvesting and threshing simultaneously.
- Threshing stands for the separation of grains from the chaff.
- The plants use water to prepare food by photosynthesis, which leads to their growth and development
- Storing crops is an important step in agriculture.
- The crops are generally grown in large quantities.
- If the crops are not stored properly, they get damaged and become unsuitable for consumption.
- Crops are dried before they are stored. The presence of moisture in the crop leads to microbial growth that may damage the grains.
- Cereals, pulses, etc., are dehydrated before storing.
- Crops are packed in gunny bags and kept in large granaries where they are available till the next crop season for selling and purchasing.
- Grains are also stored in structures called silos.
- Dried neem leaves and cloves are added to the dried grains as their smell keeps the microbes and rodents away.
Granaries: The storehouse of grains.
Dehydration: Removal of water by drying or heating.
Rodents: The animals that live in burrows and have specialised incisors for cutting and biting.
Did You Know?
- Agriculture employs the maximum number of people worldwide.
- Scientists have genetically modified a few crops resistant to pests and other environmental changes. For example, Bt cotton is such a variety of cotton that if pests feed on it, they die.