Crop Information

General Terms

Land Preparation

Land Preparation

Summer Ploughing: Summer ploughing improves soil structure due to alternate drying and cooling. Soil permeability is increased by breaking the compacted layers. Tillage improves soil aeration which helps in multiplication of micro organisms. Organic matter decomposition is hastened resulting in higher nutrient availability.
Increased aeration also helps in degradation of herbicide and pesticide residues and harmful allelopathic chemicals exuded by roots of previous crop or weed. It also helps in reducing the soil dwelling insect pests. In view of several benefits summer ploughing could be taken up at optimum moisture level.
Frequent harrowing has to be avoided as it results in destruction of soil structure. Tillage at improper moisture level is to be discouraged as it also damages soil structure and leads to development of hard pans.

Shallow Ploughing: It is generally followed by the most of the farmers repeatedly at the same depth (12-15 Cm). As a result of this hard pans are created, which inhibits the penetration of roots in deep rooted crops.
Eg: Cotton roots grow to a depth of 2 Mts. in deep alluvial soils without any pans, when hard pans are present they grow only upto hard pan (5 – 20 cm). But shallow ploughing is practiced to open the soil crust to increase the receptivity of rainfall.

Puddling: ” Making soil impermeable by manipulating and compacting it in standing water, which reduces its apparent specific volume, thus facilitates transplanting.” As a result of puddling, an impervious layer is formed below the surface which reduces deep percolation losses of water.

Levelling: Levelling is the tillage operation in which the soil is moved to a establish a desired soil elevation stage. Due to levelling the use of water and fertilizer efficiency increases effectively.

Harrowing: Harrowing is a secondary tillage operation which pulverizes, smoothens and packs the soil in seed-bed preparation and control weeds.

Conservation Tillage: The main objective is to conserve soil and moisture .Conservation tillage is an operation that is designed to maintain roughness of a field surface and leave most of the previous crop residues on the surface while providing a suitable seed-bed and weed control for the next crop.
This roughness reduces water run off and soil erosion.

Ridges and Furrows: A long, row ridge of earth with gently sloping sides and a shallow channel along the upper side, to control erosion by diverting surface run-off across the slope instead of permitting it to flow uninterrupted down to slope.
EG: Sugarcane, Sunflower, Vegetable crops.

Bunding: It is the process of forming an artificial earthern embankment made across slopping agricultural land to cut short lengthy soil slopes and reduces run-off and erosion.
These bunds are also formed along the contours across the slope of land in the low rainfall regions to conserve soil moisture.

Sowing

Methods of Sowing

Broad Casting
Seeds are spread uniformly over well prepared land and is covered by ploughing or planking. It is most primitive method of sowing crops. The broadcasting has several disadvantages.

  • Seeds fall at different depths when broadcasted resulting in uneven stand.
  • It requires more seed rate.
  • Seeds fallen deep in the soil may not germinate.
  • Due to broadcasting excess competition at certain areas and no competition at all in other areas takes place in the field. So, yield returns will be decreased.
  • Water use efficiency and fertilizer efficiency will be decreased.
  • There is no possibility of controlling weeds by inter cultivation.

Drilling
To overcome the problems of broadcasting drilling the seeds in lines has come into practice. Weeds can be controlled economically by inter cultivation in line sown crops. In addition, drilling or line sowing facilitates uniform depth of sowing resulting in uniform crop stand. Seed rate can be considerably reduced drilling.

Planting
When individual seeds or seed material is placed in the soil by manual labour, it is called planting.
Generally crops with bigger sized seeds and those needing wider spacing are sown by this method. Eg : Cotton, Maize, Potato, Sugarcane, etc.

Transplanting
It is the process of planting seedlings in prepared main field. Small seeded crops like Tobacco, Chillies, Tomato, etc. are to be sown shallow and frequently irrigated for proper germination. Taking care of the germinating seed or seedlings which are spread over large area is a problem with regard to application of water, weed control, pest control etc. Therefore, seeds are sown in a small area called nursery and all the care is taken to raise the seedlings.
The advantages of transplanting saving in irrigation water, good stand establishment and increase in intensity of cropping. In respect to paddy the nursery is raised in small puddled plots and later transplanted in the main field at required spacing.

Seed Rate
The quality of seed required for sowing in a unit area of land. It is usually expressed in kg/ ha.

Spacing
The distance between crop row ( inter-row spacing) and between plants within the row (intra – row spacing) is referred as spacing. It is expressed in Cms.

Plant Population
Number of plants maintained in an unit area of land is known as plant population/ density. Establishment of optimum plant population is essential to get maximum yield. When sown densely competition among plants is more for growth factors resulting in reduction of yield.
Yield per plant decreases gradually as plant population per unit area is increased. The plant population density vary with the type of soil and crop. Optimum plant population density has to be maintained for securing maximum yield.

Nursery Raising
When more than one crop is to be grown in an year on the same piece of land, the time occupied by each crop has to be reduced.
The seedling growth in the early stages is very slow. Seedlings need extra care for establishing in the field because of their tenderness. Small seeded crops are to be sown shallow and frequently irrigated for proper germination.
Taking care of the germinating seed or seedlings which are spread over large area is a problem with regard to application of water, weed control, pest control etc. Therefore, seeds are sown in a small area called nursery and all the care is taken to raise the seedlings.

Transplanting

Method

Transplanting is usually done manually. In case of rice it is also done mechanically with transplantor provided the nursery is raised through dapog method.
Time

For achieving good results from transplanting, the seedlings are to be transplanted at optimum age and at proper depth. The age of seedlings for transplanting depends on crop and seasonal conditions.

Equipment For Sowing: Country plough (Akkadi), Seed drill, Ferti-cum-seed drill, Mechanical seed drill are generally used.

Inter Cultivation

It is an operation of soil cultivation performed in standing crop. It is also called as inter culturing. It facilitates good aeration, and better development of root system.

Weeding

Weeding is the process of eliminating competition of unwanted plants to the regular crop in respect to nutrition and moisture. So that crops can be grown profitably. It also facilitates other operations like irrigation and fertilizer application. The advantages of weeding are

  • Conservation of soil moisture.
  • Reduced competition for nutrients and water.
  • Purity of seed can be maintained.

Earthing Up

It is the process of putting the earth or soil just near the base for certain crops like Sugar cane, Cassava, Papaya, Potato, etc. to give support to the plants.

  • Sugarcane, Papaya, Banana – To avoid lodging
  • Cassava, Potato – To provide more soil volume for the growth of tubers.
  • Vegetables – To facilitate irrigation.

Ridges and Furrows

It is also included in inter cultivation and generally done at the base of the crop to provide extra support against lodging and also provide soil volume for better growth. It also facilitates uniform spread of moisture during operation of irrigation.

Other Operations

  • Certain other operations like gap filling, thinning and propping are required as part of inter cultivation operations. In crops like Cotton, Paddy, the gap filling is done in missing areas of the planted main field to maintain optimum population .
  • Like wise thinning is also practiced in direct sown crops like Jowar, Chillies, to avoid over crowding and to maintain uniform plant stand. In crops like Sugarcane,betelwine, Grapes propping is necessary to support the main crop establishment.

Equipment

  • Ploughs, blade harrow and weeders.
  • Weeding : Weeders ( Meesala Guntaka ), Metla Guntaka, Danthi,
  • Star-weeder, Japanese rotary weeder.
  • Earthing Up : Country plough, Spade.

Irrigation

Surface irrigation: This refers to application of water by gravity flow to the surface of the field. This can be of three types depending on if the entire field is flooded (basin irrigation) or the water is fed into small channels (furrows) or strips of land (borders). The three types include Basin, Furrow and Border Irrigation.

Basin Irrigation: Basins are flat areas of land, surrounded by low bunds. The bunds prevent the water from flowing to the adjacent fields.
Basin irrigation is commonly used for rice grown on flat lands or in terraces on hillsides. Trees can also be grown in basins, where one tree is usually located in the middle of a small basin.
In general, the basin method is suitable for crops that are unaffected by standing in water for long periods such as 12-24 hours.

Furrow Irrigation: Furrows are small channels, which carry water down the land slope between the crop rows. Water infiltrates into the soil as it moves along the slope. The crop is usually grown on the ridges between the furrows.
This method is suitable for all row crops and for crops that are affected in water for long periods such as 12-24 hours.

Border Irrigation: Borders are long, sloping strips of land separated by bunds. They are sometimes called border strips.
Irrigation water can be fed to the border in several ways: opening up the channel bank, using small outlets or gates or by means of siphons or spiles. A sheet of water flows down the slope of the border, guided by the bunds on either side.

Sprinkler Irrigation: It involves applying irrigation water which is similar to natural rainfall. Water is distributed through a system of pipes usually by pumping. It is then sprayed into the air through sprinklers so that it breaks up into small water drops which fall to the ground.

The pump supply system, sprinklers and operating conditions must be designed to enable a uniform application of water.
Sprinkler irrigation is suited for most row, field and tree crops and water can be sprayed over or under the crop canopy.
However, large sprinklers are not recommended for irrigation of delicate crops such as lettuce because the large water drops produced by the sprinklers may damage the crop.

Drip Irrigation: With drip irrigation, water is conveyed under pressure through a pipe system to the fields, where it drips slowly onto the soil through emitters or drippers which are located close to the plants. Only the immediate root zone of each plant is wetted. Therefore this can be a very efficient method of irrigation. Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation involves irrigating crops at the root zone as per the crop requirement. It greatly enhances water use efficiency and can also be used for fertilizer application. Drip irrigation is sometimes called trickle irrigation.

Rainguns: Rainguns are high performance impact sprinklers designed for a variety of uses and applications where relatively high flows and extended radius of throw are desired. Rainguns are available with operating pressure of 2.0 to 7.5 kg/cm2 and with nozzle diameters ranging from 10 to 30 mm and with a wetting radius of 27 to 60 meter.

Harvesting

It is an operation of cutting, picking, plucking, digging or combination of these for removing the useful part or economic end product, part from the plant.

Time
Crops can be harvested at physiological maturity or at harvest maturity. Crop is considered to be at physiological maturity when the translocation of photosynthates are stopped to economic part. If the crop is harvested early, the produce contain high moisture and more immature grains.
The yields will be low due to unfilled grains. Late harvesting results in shattering of grains, germination even before harvesting during rainy season and breakage during processing. Hence, harvesting at correct time is essential to get good quality of grains and higher yields.

Methods
Harvesting is done by either manually or by mechanical.

Manual Harvesting

  • Manual harvesting is practiced by cutting crop with sickle or knife. In some crops like Sugarcane, Millets, Paddy the crop is cut with sickles and knives.
  • In some crops like Groundnut, tuber crops the plants are pulled and economic parts are separated. In other crops like Cotton, Chillies, and fruits the picking is practices to remove the economic parts like kappas, pods and fruits etc.

Mechanical Harvesting

  • The combines are used to perform several operations such as cutting the crop, separating the grain from straw, cleaning the grain from chaff and transporting grains to the storage tank. Now a days the harvesting is exclusively for harvesting crops like Paddy and threshing paddy are used. Machines are now available for separating pods from the plants and also for shelling pods (decorticators) in respect to Groundnut crop.
  • Likewise machines are available for threshing sunflower heads, shelling of castor capsules and sowing of grain.

Post Harvest

Drying and Processing

  • Drying is a process by which moisture content from grain is reduced to safe limit. Drying is done either by using solar energy or by artificial heating.
  • Processing is the conversion of the produce into a more finished condition before it is offered for sale.

Cleaning
The removal of foreign and dissimilar material by washing, screening, hand-picking, aspiration or any other mechanical means is known as cleaning. It is required to maintain the quality of the produce.

Equipment

  • Harvesting:Sickle, knife, combines, harvesters
  • Threshing : Bullocks, Tractors, Decorticators etc.
  • Drying : Dryers

Post Harvest Field Management

  • After harvest of the crop, the remnants of the plant viz. Straw, stubbles, leaves, etc. are ploughed into soil to decompose, there by providing source of organic matter for the next season crop.
  • In some places the flock of sheep are housed (penning) during night time. So that the excreta is collected on the field which is also a good source of organic nutrients.
  • The left over stubbles, plant residues in crops like Cotton, Chillies, Maize, Sunflower etc. may be burnt as part of soil sterilization as to reduce population of harmful microbes and soil dwelling insect pests.
  • In crops like Paddy the stubbles may be removed by ploughing after harvest to eliminate hibernating stem borer population. Field bunds may be trimmed to avoid hibernating grass hopper egg masses.