Improvement in Food Resources Part-1

Improvement in Crop Yields

  • In India, food grain output increased four times between 1952 and 2010, yet cultivable land only increased by 25% during that time.
  • If we think of the practices involved in farming, we can see that we can divide it into three stages. 
  • The first step is selecting the seeds to plant. The care of the crop plants comes in second. The third is preventing crop loss when it is being grown and harvested.
  • Thus, the major groups of activities for improving crop yields can be classified as:
    • Crop variety improvement
    • Crop production improvement
    • Crop protection management.

Crop Variety Improvement

  • The crop variety improvement approach depends on finding a crop variety that can give a good yield. It can be done in the following two ways:
  • Hybridisation: The term "hybridization" refers to plant crossover between genetically different species. This crossing may be intervarietal (between different varieties), interspecific (between two different species of the same genus) or intergeneric (between different genera).
  • Genetic Modification (GM): DNA insertion into an organism's genome is a technique used in genetic engineering (GE). New DNA is inserted into plant cells to create a genetically modified plant. The cells are often cultured in tissue culture where they eventually become plants.
  • Weather, soil quality, and water availability all affect cultivation techniques and crop yield. Variety that can be grown in different climatic circumstances is helpful since weather conditions like drought and flood scenarios are unpredictable.

The factors for which variety of improvement is done are:

  • Higher yield: To raise the crop's productivity per acre.
  • Improved quality: The quality of crop products varies from crop to crop. E.g., the protein quality is important in pulses, oil quality in oilseeds, preserving quality in fruits and vegetables.
  • Biotic and abiotic resistance: Abiotic conditions like drought, salinity, waterlogging, heat, cold, and frost have an impact on crop productivity but biotic factors like diseases, insects, and nematodes do not. To increase crop yield, it is possible to enhance strains that are resistant to certain elements (or stressors).
  • Change in maturity duration: A crop's shorter maturation period lowers agricultural production costs and makes the variety more profitable. Uniform maturity makes the harvesting process easy and reduces losses during harvesting.
  • Wider adaptability: It enables the crops to be cultivated in many locations with various weather conditions.
  • Desirable agronomic characteristics: In order to maximise production, some traits are needed, such as tallness and profuse branching for fodder crops and dwarfness for grains so that these crops use less nutrients.

Crop Production Management 

  • Crop production management is the process of raising crops while giving them all the nutrients they require and storing them safely. This is among its components:
    • Nutrition Management
    • Irrigation
    • Cropping Patterns

 

Nutrition Management

Plant physiological activities, such as reproduction, growth, and susceptibility to disease, are impacted by nutrient deficiencies. By adding these nutrients to the soil in the form of manure and fertilisers, the yield can be increased.

Macronutrients

From all the 13 essential nutrients, 6 are the essential nutrients required in large quantities for the growth and development of plants. These essential nutrients are collectively called macronutrients.

Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Sulfur (S), and Magnesium are the macronutrients required by plants.

Micronutrients

From all the 13 essential nutrients, 6 are classified into macronutrients and the other 7 are classified into micronutrients. They are required in very small quantities; therefore, they are also known as trace minerals.

These nutrients include iron (Fe), boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and molybdenum (Mo). 

Manure:

  • Manure provides the soil with a little amount of nutrients as well as a significant amount of organic matter.
  • Plant waste and animal waste decompose to produce manure.
  • Manure aids in increasing soil fertility by supplying nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
  • Based on the kind of biological material used, manure can be classified as Compost and vermicompost, Green Manure.
  • Compost: It can be farm waste materials like livestock excrement (cow dung, for example), vegetable and animal waste, trash from homes and businesses, sewage waste, straw, and pulled weeds, among other things. This material is broken down in pits, and the process is known as composting. This compost is nutrient- and organic-rich.
  • Vermicompost: The compost which is made by the decomposition of plant
    and animal refuse with the help of red worm is called vermicompost.
  • Green manure: Some plants, such as sun hemp or guar, are grown and mulched by being ploughed into the soil before the crop seeds are sown. Thus, the nitrogen and phosphorus content of the soil is increased by turning these green plants into green manure.

Fertilizers:

  • Commercially produced plant nutrients are known as fertilisers.
  • Fertilisers provide potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen.
  • They are used to guarantee good vegetative growth, which produces strong plants and leaves, branches, and flowers.
  •  Fertilizers are a factor in the higher yields of high-cost farming.

Irrigation

  • Crop failure is caused by poor monsoons. The predicted yields of any crop can be increased by ensuring that the crops receive water at the appropriate times during their growing season. As a result, numerous strategies are employed to irrigate an increasing amount of agricultural land.
  • In these circumstances, a variety of irrigation techniques are used to supply water to agricultural regions. These include rivers, tanks, canals, and wells.
  • Wells: They come in two varieties: dug wells and tube wells. Water is drawn from strata that contain water in a well that has been dug. Water from deeper strata can be tapped via tube wells. Water is drawn by pumps for irrigation from these wells.
  • Canals: Canals get water from rivers or from one or more reservoirs. To irrigate farms, the main canal is divided into branch canals that each has additional distributaries.
  • River lift system: The lift system is more logical in locations where canal flow is poor or irregular as a result of insufficient reservoir release. For supplemental irrigation in regions near rivers, water is directly collected from the rivers.
  • Tanks: These are small storage reservoirs, which intercept and store the run-off of smaller catchment areas.

Cropping Patterns

It includes different ways of growing crops so as to get the maximum benefit. These different ways include the following:

  • Mixed cropping: Growing two or more crops continuously on the same plot of land is known as mixed cropping.
  • Inter-cropping: It involves growing two or more crops simultaneously in a specific ratio or pattern on the same land. The crops are chosen such that they have various nutrient needs. In addition to ensuring optimal nutrient utilisation, this stops pests and illnesses from spreading to all of the plants growing one crop in a field.
  • Crop rotation: Crop rotation is the process of producing several crops on a plot of land in an organised succession. Two or three crops can be planted in a year with a good harvest if crop rotation is done appropriately.