To succeed in getting the best and the maximum yield from his farm, a farmer has to minimise his crop loss and it demands proper and sustainable agricultural practices. By employing the right agricultural practices he can aim to improve the yield of the crops. For improving the yield, a farmer needs to improve the variety of crops, its production management, and its protection management.
Here we will be discussing the crop protection management.
What is Crop Protection?
Crop protection is the general method or the practice of protecting the crop yields from different agents including pests, weeds, plant diseases, and other organisms that cause damage to the agricultural crops.
Apart from crops, agricultural fields would have weeds, small animals like rats, mites, insects, pests, disease-causing pathogens and frequently raided by birds. All these factors are mainly responsible for the loss or damage to the crops. Thus to yield high crop production, farmers need to protect the crop from these pests. Hence crop protection management is important before, during and after the cultivation.
What are the methods of crop protection
There are many crop protection tools and practices, which farmers can implement to increase the success of their crops.
Crop protection before and during the cultivation
Weeds are unwanted plants growing along with the crops. These undesirable plants, steal the nutrients, sunlight, water and other resources from the crops and affect their growth, which results in the undernourished of crops and decreases the yields. To safeguard the productivity of crops, farmers remove these weeds by a process called weeding.
Weeding is the process of controlling the growth of weeds. There are various methods of weeding:
- Spraying weedicides on the weeds
- Manually plucking the weeds by hands
- Removing weeds by trowel and harrow
- Ploughing the field to remove the weeds even before sowing the seeds
Few examples of weeds are Amaranthus, Cyperinus rotundus, Bermuda grass, etc.
Apart from weeding, Herbicides – a chemical substance also play an important role in controlling the growth of the weeds and also help in preventing soil erosion and water loss.
Pests and Insects Management
Both insects and pests are the major cause of crop damage and yield loss. They could ruin the whole crop and eat up the large portion of grains. In fact, they can reduce crop output by 30-50(%) every year if left unchecked. The best ways to protect crop damage are by incorporating integrated pest and insect management. Spraying insecticides, pesticides help to minimize the crop damage by controlling the insects and other pests.
Plant Disease Management
Pathogenic diseases are another type of crop-damaging factors. Microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses affect different parts of the crop through various means. Crops could be protected from these diseases by using pesticides and biocontrol agents.
These are crop protection management, which should be followed before and during the cultivation.
Crop protection after the cultivation
Once the crop has reached maturity, it now needs to be harvested. So harvesting is the cutting and gathering of the matured crop. The term harvesting also generally includes the immediate post-harvest practices such as threshing and winnowing. Let us look at both these processes
- Threshing: The process of separating the grains from their chaffs or pods is threshing
- Winnowing: After threshing, we must separate the grains from the chaffs. Winnowing is the process of separating the grains.
There are various factors to consider before the harvesting of crops. The crops need close examination to ensure that harvesting is not premature. This leads to shedding of seeds and loss of crop. If the crops are over-ripened, they may lose their value in the market or may even be unconsumable.
Harvesting in India is generally done manually. Sicles is a tool that is used to cut the crop. This method is a laborious and time-consuming and only suitable for small-sized farms. On larger farms, a harvester is used which combines harvesting with threshing and winnowing.
Cultivated grains must be stored safely to avoid product loss. Chances of grain loss are much higher during this time than before cultivation. Therefore, methods of protection need to be better. Common pests and rodents and some environmental conditions like humidity and temperature are the responsible factors for the loss. Certain precautions help us to prevent this loss. Before storing the grains, it should be cleaned and dried completely in sunlight as it helps in protecting the crops from fungal growth, which is caused by the presence of moisture. Pests could also be killed by a method called fumigation.
According to modern agricultural technologies, there are various tools for managing weeds, insects, and disease. The tools include the applications of pesticides, soil profile, nutrient management etc.
Why do we need Crop Protection?
Globally, on average, every year farmers lose 20 to 30 (%) of their cultivated crops due to pests and other diseases. In order to reduce these losses, crop protection is much more required. There are different types of Crop Protection products available in the market and are eco-friendly or environment-friendly products which help in preserving the environment and also protect the crops. These products include – Fungicides, Herbicides, Insecticides and Seed care.
Important Question on Crop Protection
- What are Crops?
Crops are the plant products which are grown on a large scale to meet the nutritional level of the growing population. There are three different types of crops are mainly classified based on their cultivating seasons.
- Kharif Crops – These crops are grown during the rainy season, especially during the month of June to October. Paddy, Maize, Sugar cane are a few examples of Kharif crops.
- Rabi Crops – These crops are grown during the winter season, especially during the month of November and December. Barley and wheat are a few examples of Rabi crops.
- Zaid Crops – These crops are grown during the summer season. Cucumber, watermelon are a few examples of Zaid crops.
- What are Horticultural and Commercial crops?
Crops grown for monetary purpose are called commercial crops. Commercial crops include sunflower, groundnut, mustard, olive, coconut, coffee, tea, Rubber, etc.
Crops grown for aesthetic value are called horticultural crops. Horticultural crops include the vegetables, flowers, roots, fruits, and nuts which are directly used as a source of food by man.
- How to protect cultivated grains?
Once after the grains are cultivated, they should be stored in clean and dry containers or a room and a low temperature should be maintained. The stored room should b free from the moisture, which can prevent the fungus attack. Spraying of pesticide before storing is recommended as this prevents contamination of food grain.
- What is Fumigation?
Fumigation is a method by which the grains are exposed to fumes or vapours of chemicals. This process is mainly recommended for storing large quantities of food grains in big godowns or containers.
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