The various kinds of food you eat originate from crops grown in fields. Crop production is essential for the sustenance of human society; therefore, let us try to understand how the food we eat is produced. In this chapter, we will learn about a pillar of our economy. We will study the various steps involved in crop cultivation, which takes months to complete.
Topics to be covered
Crop production involves growing the same kind of plant over a large area. Crops are cultivated for consumption as well as commercial purposes. Rice is an example of a crop. In India, there are two types of crops based on the season of cultivation:
Aspects of crop production
Crop cultivation involves many steps. These steps, performed by farmers and known as agricultural practices, include:
Preparation of soil
This is the first step in crop cultivation. Before sowing the seeds of the desired crop, it is important to turn the soil over with a plough. Loosened soil helps the crop in the following ways:
This process of loosening the soil is called tilling or ploughing. Sometimes manure is added to the soil during this process.
There are certain agricultural tools used for the preparation of soil. They help us maximise yield and minimise cost and labour. The three major types are:
This is the next step in crop cultivation. Before sowing, we need to ensure that the seeds are of good quality and will provide a high yield.
Regarding the tools used for sowing, these can be divided into traditional and modern. Before the modernisation of tools, farmers used traditional implements like a funnel for sowing seeds. Seeds, filled into the funnel, pass down multiple pipes with tapering ends. The sharp ends pierce the soil and position the seed. Now, modern tools are in use. For example, a seed drill is a modern tool that works with the help of a tractor. It sows seeds in uniform patterns across the field. It also ensures that seeds are planted at a depth to protect them from being destroyed. Shallow seeding makes seeds vulnerable to birds and insects. Seed drills save time and labour.
Manure and fertilisers are food for the crop. They provide the nutrition needed to ensure crop health. This is required because, when the same field is cultivated many times, the soil is stripped of its natural nutrients. Manure is composted waste from plants and animals. Fertilisers are chemicals that contain specific nutrients that are required for a healthy crop yield. Some common fertilisers include urea, potash, and ammonium sulphate.
There is a basic nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio required for soil health. Overuse of fertilisers has become a hazard as it pollutes the underground water and reduces natural soil fertility. Ideally, the field must be left vacant for a short period before planting the next crop to preserve soil fertility. Crop rotation is another method to restore soil health. This way, the use of fertilisers can be reduced.
Irrigation refers to watering crops and is critical for survival and healthy growth. There are many ways in which irrigation can take place; some sources are wells, rivers, lakes, and ponds.
Traditional methods of irrigation, used before technological advancements, were labour-intensive, cheap, and inefficient. The following are examples of traditional methods:
Modern methods of irrigation, which are more efficient and economical, include the likes of:
Weeds are unwanted plants that grow spontaneously alongside the desired crop. They need to be removed; otherwise, they compete for natural resources like sunlight, water, and nutrients. They are obstacles to healthy crop growth. The process of removing weeds is called weeding; this may be done manually or with the help of chemicals called weedicides.
Once the crop has matured, it is ready to be harvested. Harvesting is nothing but the cutting of the mature crop. At this stage, the crop is ready to be uprooted or cut from the ground and collected for storage. Depending on the crop and the scale, harvesting can either be done manually or by using a machine attached to a tractor. A sickle may be used for manual harvesting, and a harvester may be attached to a tractor for this purpose. The grain is separated from the chaff during this stage by a process called threshing.
After harvesting the crop, farmers have large amounts of grain collected in their stores. It is a difficult task to protect the grain from rotting, insects, rodents, and other vulnerabilities. Freshly harvested grain must be dried and then stored to reduce the amount of moisture. There are many ways to do this. On a small scale, traditional remedies like dried neem leaves are used to store the grain at home. On a larger scale, grains are chemically treated to protect them from pests, bacteria, and fungi and stored in granaries. The newest grain storage technology involves silos, which are large metallic containers where the temperature and pressure can be altered according to the crop. These are expensive instalments, but they help in long-term food preservation.
Food from animals
There are many types of food we get from animals. The process of rearing animals for commercial products for human use is called animal husbandry. Some examples of food from animals are:
Mixed farming involves crop production along with animal husbandry. In case the crop fails owing to bad weather conditions, farmers can rely on animal husbandry for their income.
Benefits of NCERT Solutions Class 8 Science
Crop production and management are performed in various steps. Many factors, such as rainfall and temperature, affect crops. Crop management consists of handling all these factors to help the crop grow and reach the harvest stage. NCERT solutions can help you understand the processes involved in crop production and management simply and concisely. An overall understanding will enable you to know the role of agriculture in the context of science and how it applies to real life.