High Yield Crops [UPSC Notes GS-III]

Crops that have been bred or fertilized and can be produced by genetic modifications to increase the rate of production are known as high yield crops. With the growing population, it has become important to produce high-yielding crops.

This article talks about high-yield crops which is an important topic for IAS Exam and its three stages – Prelims, Mains & Interview. The topic is also included in UPSC Mains GS-III.

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Development of High Yield Crops in India

The Industrial Revolution dramatically changed agriculture in India and produced significant changes. People involved in agricultural production left the farms to work in city factories. As such, fewer people were required for the production of more agricultural crops to gain an increasing number of consumers.

Production of high- yielding crops and improved variety of seeds was encouraged by the Central and the State Government. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana), and G.B. Pant Agricultural University (Pantnagar) were also involved in developing and importing new hybrid varieties as per Indian conditions and requirements.

To produce higher yields of crops, numerous agricultural practices are required. One of the important criteria includes the selection and breeding of genetically superior cultivars.

The advances in the field of genetics have led to the possibility to breed some of the desirable characteristics into plants. These desirable characteristics have resulted from mutation and can be transferred from one plant to any other plant using recombinant DNA technology.

To know more about the DNA Technology bill, visit the linked article

High Yield Crops- Advantages

There are several advantages of high yield crops due to their certain characteristics. Some of the advantages are mentioned below:

  • Higher and improved yield of crops
  • Most of the high yield crops are dwarf and hence, their plants are stronger and can withstand strong winds.
  • The high yield crops give better response to fertilizers and thus, their production rate increases substantially.
  • Early maturation.

Disadvantages of high yield crops

Although these crops are known for their high yielding property, the high yield crops also have some disadvantages:

  • The high yield crops require more water and fertilizers as compared to the normal varieties of crops.
  • They require frequent weeding.
  • Continuous use of pesticides.
  • The high yield crops, when compared with the traditional varieties are generally more susceptible to diseases.

What are High Yielding Variety Seeds?

High Yielding Variety Seeds (HYV seeds) are resistant to insects and diseases and have a high yielding capacity. These seeds are of better quality and are a better option for surplus and healthy production of crops. The high yielding variety of seeds played an important role in the Green Revolution of India.

The high yielding seeds are generally flood and drought resistant and give better quality yielding.

In the Kharif season of 1966, the high yielding programme was launched in selected areas having assured rainfall.

Developments related to HYV Seeds

Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) have developed a new arhar (pigeon-pea) variety that matures in 120 days, gives the same 20 quintal-per-hectare yields of normal 160-180 day plants, and is, moreover, amenable to mechanical combine harvesting.

Normal Arhar Plant

  • Arhar plants are mostly ‘indeterminate’; they keep growing and, left to themselves, can even become perennial trees.
  • In Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, farmers plant the crop in June-July and harvest it after 250-280 days in March-April.
  • In other parts, especially Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh, the varieties are grown are of medium duration (160-180 days) and also yield 20 quintals per hectare.
  • The flowers produced from the axillary and lateral branches do not set pods at the same time. So, even at the time of harvesting, not all the pods are mature.

About new plant type

  • In the new plant-type — called PADT-16 (Pusa Arhar Determinate) and bred by a team led by Prabhu and R S Raje, principal scientist at IARI’s division of genetics — the flowering and pod-setting is synchronous, with the crop maturing and ready for harvest in 120 days.
  • It is a new plant-type, whose apical meristems (tissues at the tip of the main stem) only produce flowers. In this, the growth stops with the production of flowers and setting of pods
  • This is a short, compact plant-type that grows to hardly 95 cm height, compared to 175 cm for medium-duration arhar and 300 cm-plus for perennials.

The benefits

  • First, being a dwarf semi-erect plant makes pesticide spraying easier. The normal arhar plants rise to six feet levels, at which application is difficult and also tends to be non-uniform.
  • Also, you only need to give one good spray against Maruca insect and pod borer at the bud initiation stage after 65-70 days,
  • Secondly, synchronous maturity and podding happening only at the top — because of the compact canopy and no tertiary or quaternary branch growth — means the entire arhar crop can be harvested at one go using combine harvesters.

Once the plant variety protection for the new plant-type is obtained, it will start commercial cultivation by 2018.

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