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Agricultural Practices, Practice Problems and FAQs

Food is one of the essentials required to sustain life on the Earth. We depend on other animals and plants for food. The energy we obtain from food is used to perform work and life processes. We know that the basis of food production is agriculture. It is considered as the art and science of cultivating the soil, raising livestock and growing crops. This includes the preparation of animal and plant products for use and also their distribution in markets. Agriculture industry provides most of the food and fabrics required by the world. India is an agricultural country. About 62% of the Indian population is engaged in agriculture, which accounts for approximately 33% of the country's GDP.

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Fig: Agriculture

The world population has increased rapidly during the past few decades. As the population increases the demand for basic needs like shelter, food, clothes etc., also increases. It will result in declining agricultural land due to industrialisation and urbanisation. So the country needs to increase the yield per unit area from the available land for agriculture. Hence it requires the application of certain specific procedures and practices. The practices that help to produce adequate and high-quality yields are called agricultural practices. In this article we will understand more about various agricultural practices.

Table of contents

Agricultural practices

In agriculture certain parameters are used before cultivating a crop. Depending on these parameters a farmer can decide the crop he needs to cultivate. The time of cultivation, duration of cultivation, place of cultivation, selecting suitable soil, season and climate are not sufficient for cultivation. Just selecting a crop and growing it during an appropriate season is not considered sufficient for getting high yield. The set of procedures commonly followed for cultivation are called agricultural practices.

GIF: Cultivation

Types of agricultural practices

The common agricultural practices include the following:

  • Preparation of soil
  • Sowing
  • Addition of fertilisers and manures
  • Irrigation
  • Protection from weeds or weeding
  • Harvesting
  • Storage of the yield

Preparation of soil

It is the first step in agricultural practices. Soil is required for the formation of healthy vegetables in the traditional agriculture methods. The soil is made better before sowing seeds or planting crops. Various methods can be followed to enhance the nutrients in the soil. The soil contains nonliving (abiotic) factors and living (biotic) organisms. Both the components are important for the growth and development of the crop. The biotic components include nitrogen-fixing bacteria, earthworms etc. The abiotic components include minerals, water and nutrients that the roots absorb from the soil.

Fig: Components in the soil required for crop

Procedures of soil preparation

The three procedures normally come under the soil preparation are as follows:

Ploughing

It is the process of loosening the soil in the ground. It makes sure that the minerals of the Earth come up and a proper amount of oxygenation occurs in the soil. In ancient times it was done with the help of ox or bull. In modern agricultural practices this is done with the help of tractors.

Fig: Ploughing

Levelling

It is considered as the process of making the ground surface after ploughing. It ensures that the crops are planted on an even surface.

Fig: Levelling

Manuring

It is the addition of required nutrients to the soil at regular intervals. This enhances the growth and yield of the plant.

Fig: Manuring

Sowing

Sowing step comes after the soil preparation step in the agricultural practices. Selection of good seeds is the most important part of this step. Once the seed is selected the dispersal of the seeds can be done manually or with the help of drilling machines. The process of sowing differs according to the seeds selected. For example, in the case of paddy, the seeds need to be grown into seedlings in a separate smaller area first and later it is transferred to the main fields.

Fig: Sowing

Addition of fertilisers and manures

The process of adding nutrients to the growing plants is called manuring. It can be done in two ways such as using the natural nutrient supplements or using the chemical fertilisers. The farmer must decide the amount and type of the fertilisers required for the crop because the excess fertilisers may harm the plants. Manuring is usually done at regular intervals. It provides essential nutrients to the crop and enhances soil fertility.

Fig: Manuring

Natural fertilisers

The natural nutrient supplements include dead and decaying wastes or vermicompost. The natural manure enriches the fertility of the soil and in this process the soil does not get contaminated. This process also ensures food to the earthworms and other insects in the ground. Common natural fertilisers include cow dung, dried leaves, bone meal, dried fishes etc.

Fig: Cow dung

Chemical fertilisers

Chemical fertilisers contain the appropriate amount of the minerals nutrients needed for the plant growth and development. But continuous use will pollute the environment and harm the soil organisms.

Fig: Addition of chemical fertilisers

Irrigation

Irrigation is the process of artificially applying water to crops to meet their water needs. Irrigation can also be used to supply nutrients that are needed by the crops. Wells, ponds, canals, tube wells, and dams are some of the various water sources utilised for irrigation. The plant body is composed of nearly 90% of water. The moisture required for plant germination, growth, and other related processes is supplied by irrigation. Depending on the crop, the soil type, and the season, different irrigation methods are used. For example, summer crops require more water as compared to winter crops. If the plants do not get enough water then the pressure inside leaves and stems will drop and they will bend first and slowly they will wilt. This will finally lead to their death. Hence proper watering is important for plants not only to improve the yield but also to maintain them healthy. Water is required for photosynthesis and all metabolic activities in plants.

Fig: Irrigation

Protection from weeds or weeding

Normally along with crops in the field unwanted plants also will grow. The unwanted plants growing along with the crop are called weeds. These plants will absorb the nutrition given to the crops. Hence the removal of these weeds or unwanted plants are important. Weeding is the process of removal of these types of plants. This can be done manually or chemically.

Manual weeding

In the manual method the weeds are plucked using hands.

Fig: Manual weeding

Chemical weeding

In the chemical method weedicides are used to destroy the weeds. The chemicals used to remove weeds are called weedicides. Common weeds include carrot grass, dandelion, etc.

Fig: Chemical weeding

Harvesting

The process of gathering parts of a crop when it is fully matured is called harvesting. It can be done using ancient methods or modern methods.

Ancient method

In earlier days harvesting was done using a sickle which is a sharp and curved device made of metal like iron and wood.

Fig: Harvesting using sickle

Modern method

In modern agricultural practices harvesters are used for this purpose. Common examples include combine harvesters, diggers, pickers, etc. A combine harvester is a machine that performs reaping, threshing, and cleaning cereal crops in one operation.

Fig: Harvesting using machine

Steps involved in harvesting

The following steps are used in harvesting:

  • Once the crop matures, it is harvested, which means it is cut and gathered.
  • The harvesting must be done at the right time.
  • The yield must contain the required amount of moisture content. It can range from 20 to 25%.
  • The grains are separated manually by winnowing or threshing.
  • The grains of the crops are normally separated from the vegetables.
  • Threshing can be done using machines too.
  • Grains are cleaned and dried after threshing.
  • These are then stored in jute bags.

Storage of the yield

The farmer cannot use all the yields at once. Hence it must be stored. Warehouses and godowns are constructed for this purpose. The grains are protected from the external environment and also from pests. These can be stored in jute bags or bins. Cleaning, fumigation, and drying are done in the warehouse before the grains are stored.

Fig: Storage of the yield

Best agricultural practices

Some of the known best agricultural practices are as follows.

Crop rotation

It is considered as the practice of cultivating different crops on the same field successively. This practice helps in retaining the productive capacity of the soil. It also helps in improving soil fertility and in preventing soil erosion. For example, in paddy fields pea plants are cultivated alternatively to ensure enough nitrogen content.

Fig: Root nodules of pea plants

Natural weedicides and pesticides

Weeds and pests pose a threat to the crops and yield. Both can be removed manually or chemically. Natural methods are effective as it will not harm the soil. Pests can be controlled by using natural enemies like predators, parasites, and pathogens. For example, lady bird beetles will kill aphids.

Fig: Lady bird beetle and aphids

Soil enrichment

The soil enrichment can be done using organic and inorganic components. This will improve the nutrient quality of the soil. Organic methods are more useful as it will not pollute the soil. Examples include cow dung, vermicompost etc.

GIF: Vermicompost

Significances of agricultural practices

The following are the significances of agricultural practices:

  • Proper agricultural practices reduce the risk of contamination of the produce.
  • Following the best practices increases the yield.
  • It helps to access the new market.
  • It helps in proper growth and development of the crops.
  • It ensures income to the farmer.
  • It helps in the growth of the economy.
  • It ensures the quality of the food.
  • It provides a safe environment.
  • It reduces food safety risks during harvesting, storage and transportation.

Practice Problems

Q1. What is meant by crop rotation?
Answer:
It is considered as the practice of cultivating different crops on the same field successively. This practice helps in retaining the productive capacity of the soil.

Q2. Triticale has been developed through cross between _______________.

(A) Maize and Rye
(B) Maize and grass
(C) Rice and Rye
(D) Wheat and Rye

Solution: Triticale is a hexaploid (6n) formed by the genetic hybridisation between tetraploid wheat (Triticum aestivum) and European rye (Secale cereale). Triticale combines the desired qualities of good yield, grain quality of wheat and the disease resistance of rye. Hence the correct option is (D).

Q3. Study the following statement with two blanks and identify the correct option

“ _____A______ of the Indian population is engaged in agriculture, which contributes approximately _____B_____ of the country's GDP.

A. A - 62%, B - 33%
B. A - 64%, B - 45%
C.  A - 33%, B - 62%
D.  A - 45%, B - 64%

Solution: India is an agricultural country. About 62% of the Indian population is engaged in agriculture, which accounts for approximately 33% of the country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product). GDP is the total of all values added or created in an economy. It acts as a broad measure of overall domestic production, it tells about the country’s economic health and sustainability. Hence the correct option is (A).

Q4. Which are the common seven agricultural practices?
Answer:
The common seven agricultural practices include the following:

  • Preparation of soil
  • Sowing
  • Addition of fertilisers and manures
  • Irrigation
  • Protection from weeds
  • Harvesting
  • Storage of the yield

FAQs

Q1. Why are agricultural practices considered important?
Answer:
The set of procedures commonly followed for cultivation are called agricultural practices. Agricultural practices help to facilitate required access to the new market. It will also ensure the quality of the food and a safe environment. They reduce food safety risks during harvesting, storage and transportation.

Q2. Which are the common categories of crops?
Answer:
A crop is a plant or any product of the plant that can be grown and harvested for profit or subsistence. Crops are categorised into six types as follows:

  • Food crops
  • Fibre crops
  • Feed crops
  • Ornamental crops
  • Oil crops
  • Industrial crops
  1. Which are the main types of agriculture?

Answer: There are four main types of agriculture. This includes the following:

  • Shifting cultivation
  • Pastoralism
  • Subsistence farming
  • Intensive farming
  1. Which are the most popular agricultural commodities?

Answer: The most widely cultivated agricultural commodities include cow milk, wheat, rice, potatoes, corn, sugar cane etc.

 

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