Crop Production and Management

Harvesting and Protection of Crops

Did you know that harvesting of crops in India is actually celebrated with festivals? Basant Panchmi, Onam, Baisakhi are just some such festivals. Farmers rejoice the occasion when all their labours come to fruition. Harvesting is one of the most important steps in farming. Let us learn more about protection and harvesting of crops.

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Crop Protection

For the farmer to get maximum yield from his farm, he has to minimise his crop loss. One important way to do so is Crop protection management. Crops need protection from various dangers such as pests, insects, weeds, disease-causing pathogens etc. All other labour of the farmer will be futile if he does not protect his crops.

Weeding

sickle for harvesting of crops

When you grow crops in a field, you must have noticed that there are other plants and weeds growing alongside the crops. These are undesirable plants that rob the crops of their resources. They compete with the crops for sunlight, water and nutrients from the soil. This results in the crops being undernourished, which reduces the yield from the farm. To ensure the productivity of these plants, we remove these weeds by a process called weeding.  The common weeds we usually find in farms are wild oats, grass, Amaranthus etc. There are various methods of weeding, some of which are

  • The traditional method of removing weeds by hand
  • Ploughing the field to remove the weeds even before sowing the seeds
  • Manually removing weeds using a trowel and harrow
  • Spraying chemicals on the weeds, and ensuring that such chemicals do not harm the actual crops.

Pesticides

The other most harmful factor for crops are the pests, insects, rodents etc that we find on a farm. These pests and rodents can destroy large portions of the crop plantation. Expert studies have found that all major crops like rice, cotton, wheat etc may lose around 22% of their yields to insects, rodents and pests. The most effective way to protect your crops against this threat is by spraying chemicals, called insecticides or pesticides.

There are also infections causing microorganisms in the soil that can also affect the crops. These bacteria, fungi etc can go through the whole crop cultivation in a matter of days. Crops have to protect against these by pesticides and biocontrol agents.

Harvesting of Crops

Once the crop has reached maturity, it now needs to be harvested. So harvesting is the cutting and gathering of the matured crop. The term harvesting also generally includes the immediate post-harvest practices such as threshing and winnowing. Let us look at both these processes

  • Threshing: The process of separating the grains from their chaffs or pods is threshing
  • Winnowing: After threshing, we must separate the grains from the chaffs. Winnowing is the process of separating the grains.

There are various factors to consider before the harvesting of crops. The crops need close examination to ensure that harvesting is not premature. This leads to shedding of seeds and loss of crop. And if the crops are overripened, they lose their value in the market or may even be unconsumable.

Harvesting in India is generally done manually. Sicles is a tool that is used to cut the crop. This method is a laborious and time-consuming and only suitable for small-sized farms. On larger farms, a harvester is used which combines harvesting with threshing and winnowing.

Solved Example for You

Q: Reapers are used for which of the following?

  1. Crop cutting
  2. Threshing
  3. Seed Sowing
  4. Fodder cutting

Solution: The correct answer is potion “a”. A reaper is a farm machine we use for crop cutting.

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