WHAT ARE CROPS AND THEIR TYPES

A crop is a plant that is cultivated or grown on a large scale. Crops are generally grown so they can be commercially traded. i.e any plant that is grown and harvested extensively for profit purposes. There are two major types of crops that are grown in India. Let us take a look at these.

ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS DIGESTION

KHARIF CROPS

RABI CROPS

KHARIF CROPS

The word “Kharif” is Arabic for autumn since the season coincides with the beginning of autumn or winter. Kharif crops also are known as monsoon crops. These are the crops that are cultivated in the monsoon season. The Kharif season differs in every state of the country but is generally from June to September. These crops are usually sown at the beginning of the monsoon season around June and harvested by September or October. Rice, maize, bajra, ragi, soybean, groundnut, cotton are all Kharif types crops.

TYPES OF KHARIF CROPS

GROUNDNUTS

MAIZE

RICE

SOYBEAN

RICE

MAIZE

GROUNDNUTS

SOYBEAN

RABI CROPS

The Arabic translation of the word "Rabi" is spring. These crops’ harvesting happens in the springtime hence the name. The Rabi season usually starts in November and lasts up to March or April. Rabi crops are mainly cultivated using irrigation since monsoons are already over by November. In fact, unseasonal showers in November or December can ruin the crops. The seeds are sown at the beginning of autumn, which results in a spring harvest. Wheat, barley, mustard and green peas are some of the major rabi types of crops that grow in India.

TYPES OF RABI CROPS

PEAS

GRAMS

LEGUMES

WHEAT

PEAS

GRAMS

LEGUMES

WHEAT

PREPARATION OF SOIL

The preparation of soil is the first step before growing a crop. One of the most important tasks in agriculture is to turn the soil and loosen it. This allows the roots to penetrate deep into the soil. The loose soil allows the roots to breathe easily even when they go deep into the soil. Why does the loosening of soil allow the roots to breathe easily? The loosened soil helps in the growth of earthworms and microbes present in the soil. These organisms are friends of the farmer since they further turn and loosen the soil and add humus to it. But why the soil needs to be turned and loosened? You have learnt in the previous classes that soil contains minerals, water, air and some living organisms. In addition, dead plants and animals get decomposed by soil organisms. In this way, various nutrients in the dead organisms are released back into the soil. These nutrients are again absorbed by plants. Since only a few centimetres of the top layer of soil supports plant growth, turning and loosening of soil brings the nutrient-rich soil to the top so that plants can use these nutrients. Thus,turning and loosening of soil is very important for cultivation of crops. The process of loosening and turning of the soil is called tilling or ploughing. This is done by using a plough. Ploughs are made of wood or iron. If the soil is very dry, it may need watering before ploughing. The ploughed field may have big clumps of soil called crumbs. It is necessary to break these crumbs. Levelling the field is beneficial for sowing as well as for irrigation. Levelling of soil is done with the help of a leveller. Sometimes, manure is added to the soil before tilling. This helps in proper mixing of manure with soil. The soil is moistened before sowing.

TYPES OF OLD POUGHS

This is being used since ancient times for tilling the soil, adding fertilisers to the crop, removing the weeds and turning the soil. This is made of wood and is drawn by a pair of bulls or other animals (horses and camels). It contains a strong triangular iron strip called ploughshare. The main part of the plough is a long log of wood which is called a ploughshaft. There is a handle at one end of the shaft. The other end is attached to a beam which is placed on the bulls’ necks. One pair of bulls and a man can easily operate the plough

OLD DOUBLE-HANDED PLOUGH

OLD HORSE DRIVEN PLOUGH

TYPES OF MODERN CULTIVATOR

Nowadays ploughing is done by tractor-driven cultivator. The use of cultivator saves labour and time

CULTIVATOR - 1

MODERN CULTIVATOR (TRACTOR ATTACHMENT)

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CULTIVATOR - 2

MODERN CULTIVATOR TYPE-2 (TRACTOR ATTACHMENT)

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CULTIVATOR - 3

MODERN CULTIVATOR TYPE-3 SMALL (TRACTOR ATTACHMENT)

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SOWING

• Sowing is an important part of crop production. Before sowing, good quality, clean and healthy seeds of a good variety—are selected. Farmers prefer to use seeds which give high yield.

• Nowadays the seed drill is used for sowing with the help of tractors. This sows the seeds uniformly at equal distance and depth. It ensures that seeds get covered by the soil after sowing. This protects seeds from being eaten by birds. Sowing by using a seed drill saves time and labour.

• Appropriate distance between the seeds is necessary to avoid overcrowding of plants. This allows plants to get sufficient sunlight, nutrients and water from the soil. At times a few plants may have to be removed to prevent overcrowding.

SEED-DRILL

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FERTILIZER

Fertilisers are chemicals which are rich in a particular nutrient. How are they different from manure? Fertilisers are produced in factories. Some examples of fertilisers are— urea, ammonium sulphate, super phosphate, potash, NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium). The use of fertilisers has helped farmers to get better yield of crops such as wheat, paddy and maize. But excessive use of fertilisers has made the soil less fertile. Fertilisers have also become a source of water pollution. Therefore, in order to maintain the fertility of the soil, we have to substitute fertilisers with organic manure or leave the field uncultivated (fallow) in between two crops.

CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS

FERTILIZER EXAMPLE - 1

FERTILIZER EXAMPLE - 2

FERTILIZER SPREADER TRACTOR

FERTILIZER SPREADER TRACTOR

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MANURE

Manure, organic material that is used to fertilize land, usually consisting of the feces and urine of domestic livestock, with or without accompanying litter such as straw, hay, or bedding. Farm animals void most of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that is present in the food they eat, and this constitutes an enormous fertility resource. In some countries, human excrement is also used. Livestock manure is less rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash than synthetic fertilizers and hence must be applied in much greater quantities than the latter. A ton of manure from cattle, hogs, or horses usually contains only 10 pounds of nitrogen, 5 pounds of phosphorus pentoxide, and 10 pounds of potash. But manure is rich in organic matter, or humus, and thus improves the soil’s capacity to absorb and store water, thus preventing erosion. Much of the potassium and nitrogen in manure can be lost through leaching if the material is exposed to rainfall before being applied to the field. These nutrient losses may be prevented by such methods as stacking manure under cover or in pits to prevent leaching, spreading it on fields as soon as it is feasible, and spreading preservative materials in the stable. A green manure is a cover crop of some kind, such as rye, that is plowed under while still green to add fertility and conditioning to the soil.

MANURE SPREADER - EXAMPLE 1

MANURE SPREADER - EXAMPLE 1

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MANURE SPREADER - EXAMPLE 2

MANURE SPREADER - EXAMPLE 2

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IRRIGATION

All living beings need water to live. Water is important for proper growth and development. Water is absorbed by the plant roots. Along with water, minerals and fertilisers are also absorbed. Plants contain nearly 90% water. Water is essential because germination of seeds does not take place under dry conditions. Nutrients dissolved in water are transported to each part of the plant. Water also protects the crop from both frost and hot air currents. To maintain the moisture of the soil for healthy crop growth, fields have to be watered regularly. The supply of water to crops at regular intervals is called irrigation. The time and frequency of irrigation varies from crop to crop, soil to soil and season to season. In summer, the frequency of watering is higher.

IRRIGATION WATER SPRINKLER

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PROTECTION FROM WEED

In a field many other undesirable plants may grow naturally along with the crop. These undesirable plants are called weeds. The removal of weeds is called weeding. Weeding is necessary since weeds compete with the crop plants for water, nutrients, space and light. Thus, they affect the growth of the crop. Some weeds interfere even in harvesting and may be poisonous for animals and human beings. Farmers adopt many ways to remove weeds and control their growth. Tilling before sowing of crops helps in uprooting and killing of weeds, which may then dry up and get mixed with the soil. The best time for the removal of weeds is before they produce flowers and seeds. The manual removal includes physical removal of weeds by uprooting or cutting them close to the ground, from time to time. This is done with the help of a khurpi. A seed drill is also used to uproot weeds. Weeds are also controlled by using certain chemicals, called weedicides, like 2,4-D. These are sprayed in the fields to kill the weeds. They do not damage the crops. The weedicides are diluted with water to the extent required and sprayed in the fields with a sprayer.

SPRINKLER OF WEED

SPRINKLER

SPRINKLER NOZZLE

HARVESTING

Harvesting of a crop is an important task. The cutting of crop after it is mature is called harvesting. In harvesting, crops are pulled out or cut close to the ground. It usually takes 3 to 4 months for a cereal crop to mature. Harvesting in our country is either done manually by sickle or by a machine called harvester. In the harvested crop, the grain seeds need to be separated from the chaff. This process is called threshing. This is carried out with the help of a machine called ‘combine’ which is in fact a harvester as well as a thresher

COMBINE IN ACTION

COMBINE HARVESTER (BIG)

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SUGARCANE HARVESTER

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COMBINE HARVESTER (TYPE-1)

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COMBINE HARVESTER (TYPE-2)

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FORAGE HARVESTER

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