Soil preparation is the first step to be followed when we start the agricultural process. It usually entails the loosening up of the top layer of soil i.e. topsoil. Plants absorb water and nutrients from the soil through their roots, hence it is essential to prepare the soil, so we can have a healthy and bountiful produce.
The soil is prepared by the following methods
Ploughing is the process of loosening and turning the soil. Its also known as tilling. Ploughing of soil is important for the following reasons
- Allows roots of the plants to penetrate deeply into the soil. This firmly roots the plant.
- Loose soil also provides better aeration to the roots allowing them to breathe easily.
- It assists the growth of microbes and worms, which perform decomposing and add nutrients and humus to the soil
- Ploughing also removes weeds and other waste materials from the field.
- It brings nutrient-rich soil to the top, which helps in the growth of plants
The tools we use for ploughing are:
- Plough: This is the most ancient tool used for ploughing. A plough may be made of wood or a metal such as iron. It has a blade or sticks attached to the front that is used to cut through the soil. Ploughs are traditionally drawn by cattle such as ox or cows, but in modern times tractors are used. Ploughs till the soil, add manure and fertilizers and scrapes the soil.
- Hoe: A hoe is also an ancient agricultural tool. We use it to till the land, remove weeds and dig up soil. They generally have a long wooden rod with a bent iron plate at one end. The other end may be attached to an animal. Hoe was used for tilling in olden times, but these days are only used to remove weeds.
- Cultivator: This is the modern mechanism we use currently to plough our farms. It involves the use of a tractor to drive the cultivator. They dig up and pulverize the soil. Cultivators also kill weeds and dig up unwanted vegetation. Cultivator may be more expensive than the traditional methods, but it saves a lot of time and labour force.
Once the field is ploughed, the topsoil is quite loose. There is a strong possibility that strong winds or rain will wash away the topsoil. The soil then needs to be levelled again to ensure its strong foundation. This levelling of soil is done with an implement called the leveller, which is a heavy wooden or iron plank. Levelling of the field also helps in uniform distribution of water during irrigation. This is the final step of soil preparation.
To increase the fertility of the soil, we add manure to the soil even before we begin sowing the seeds. We add the manure before we plough the field, so it gets properly incorporated into the soil.