The science that deals with the cultivation of plants and rearing of animals for human use is called agriculture. When plants of the same kind are grown on a large scale, they are called crops. The crops are divided on the basis of the seasons in which they grow:
Kharif Crops- These crops grow in the monsoon season, in the month of June, and harvested in the month of September. Paddy is the main Kharif crop.
Rabi Crops- These are grown in the winter season in the month of October, and harvested in the month of March. Wheat is the main Rabi crop.
About 70% of the Indian population practices agriculture. Hence, crop management is an important aspect to ensure optimal productivity in the fields. The major agricultural practices are listed below:
- Preparation of Soil
- Sowing of Seeds
- Addition of Manure and Fertilizers
- Protection from Weeds
Preparation of Soil
The soil is loosened and tilted before the seeds are sown. Ploughs are used for the purpose. If the soil contains big lumps, they are broken with the help of a hoe. This process aerates the soil so that the roots breathe easily. The nutrients and minerals get properly mixed with the soil and come at the top. Thus, the fertility of the soil increases and is fit for plantation.
Sowing of Seeds
The good quality, infection-free seeds are collected and sown on the prepared land. The seeds should be sown at proper depths and proper distances. Following are the various methods used to sow the seeds:
- Traditional techniques
- Seed dropping behind the plough
- Hill dropping
- Check row planting
Addition Of Manures And Fertilizers
Soil may not have the right nutrients to efficiently sustain plant growth. Hence, manures and fertilizers are added to the soil to increase its fertility and to help plants grow better. Manure is prepared by using decomposing plant and animal matter in compost pits. Fertilizers, on the other hand, are chemicals prepared in factories which contain nutrients for a specific plant. They give faster results than manures. However, when excessively used, they turn the soil infertile.
Crops require water at regular intervals for proper growth. The supply of water to the plants is known as irrigation. Well, rivers, lakes, tube-wells are different sources for irrigation. The traditional methods of agriculture involve the use of humans and animals. The various traditional ways are moats, chain-pump, dhekli, rahat.
The modern techniques of irrigation include the sprinkler system and the drip system. Water is very important for the germination of seeds. It helps in the proper development of flowers, fruits, seeds, and plants. Therefore, it should be present in plants in large quantities.
Protection from Weeds
The undesirable plants that grow along with the crops are called weeds. These weeds feed on the nutrients provided to the crops and thus reduce the supply of nutrients to the crops, thereby, inhibiting their growth. The growth of these weeds needs to be prevented in order to enhance the growth of the plants.
The process of removal of weeds is called weeding. To achieve this, weedicides are employed, which are essentially chemicals specifically made to destroy weeds. They are usually sprayed before seeding and flowering.
When the crop matures, it is cut for further processing. This process is known as harvesting. It is usually manual labour, done with the help of sickles. However, mechanical harvesting is used these days – machines such as combine harvesters are used where the crops are harvested and threshed in one go.
- Threshing- Separation of grains from the harvested crops is called threshing. It is done either mechanically or by cattle.
- Winnowing- The separation of grains and chaff is called winnowing. It is done either mechanically or manually.
The grains should be properly stored if they are to be kept for longer periods. They need to be protected from pests and moisture. The freshly harvested seeds should be dried before they are stored. This prevents the attack from microorganisms and pests.
The grains are stored in jute bags or metallic bins. Dried neem leaves are added to protect them from damage at home. Large amounts of grains are stored in granaries or silos with specific chemical treatments to protect them from pests and insects.
Food From Animals
Animals are an important source of food. The rearing of animals for food is known as animal husbandry. Some animals like cows and buffaloes are reared for milk, others for meat like goats and poultry. Some people consume fish as a part of their diet. Honeybees are reared for honey. Thus, animals are an integral source of food and food products.
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