Crop Science in India
- In India around 70% of the population earns its livelihood from agriculture.
- It fulfills the basic need of human beings and animals.
- It is an important source of raw material for many agro based industries.
- India’s geographical condition is unique for agriculture because it provides many favorable conditions.
- There are plain areas, fertile soil, long growing seasons and wide variation in climatic condition etc.
- Apart from unique geographical conditions, India has been consistently making innovative efforts by using science and technology to increase production.
SALIENT FEATURES OF INDIAN AGRICULTURE
- Mostly Subsistence Agriculture.
- Pressure of population on Agriculture for employment and sustenance.
- Limited Mechanization of farming.
- Dependence upon monsoon mostly and irrigation in lesser percentage.
- Variety of crops found due to diversity of topography, climate and soil.
- Predominance of food crops cultivation.
- Three distinct agricultural/cropping seasons- kharif, rabi and zaid
MAJOR CROPS OF INDIA
- India grows almost each and every crop. If we consider the varieties of crop grown from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and western coast of Gujarat to extreme north eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, then there would be hundreds of crops.
Coarse Cereals/ Millets
Tur, Gram, Moong, Urad, Lentil
Groundnut, Caster seed, Niger seed, Sesamum, Rapeseed, Mustard, Linseed, Safflower, Sunflower, Soybean
Sugarcane, Cotton, Jute, Mesta, Coconut, Tapioca, Tobacco, Rubber, Coffee, Tea, Arecanut, Spices
Potato, Sweet potato, Onion, Chillies, Tomato, Cauliflower, Brinjal
Banana, Mango, Apple, Apricot, Grapes, Pineapple, Walnut
- The importance of foodgrains in Indian agricultural economy may be gauged from the fact these crops occupy about two-third of total cropped area in the country.
- Foograins are dominant crops in all parts of the country whether they have subsistence or commercial agricultural economy.
- On the basis of the structure of grainthe food grains are classified as cereals and pulses.
- Cereals occupy about 54 percent of total cropped area in India.
- India produces a variety of cereals, which are classified as fine grains (rice, wheat) and coarse grains (jowar, bajra, maize, ragi).
- It is the most important food crop of India. It is predominantly a Kharif crop. It covers about one third of total cultivated area of the country and is staple food of more than half of the Indian population.
- Maximum population of India is of rice consumers. Hence many farmers in India cultivate rice round the year that is, it is also cultivated in rabi season with the use of irrigation. Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:
- Temperature: Rice requires hot and humid conditions.
The temperature should be fairly high i.e. 240C mean monthly temperature with average temperature of 220C to 320C.
- Rainfall: Rainfall ranging between 150 and 300 cm is suitable for its growth. In areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh where rainfall is less than 100cm; rice is cultivated with the help of irrigation.
- Soil: Rice is grown in varied soil conditions but deep clayey and loamy soil provides the ideal conditions.
Rice is primarily grown in plain areas like Gangetic plain, it is also grown below sea level at Kuttanad (Kerala), hill terraces of north eastern part of India and valleys of Kashmir.
- Labor: Rice cultivation requires easily available labour because, most of the activities associated with it are labor oriented and are not very well suited for mechanization.
- Rice is grown in almost all the states of India.
- The three largest rice producing states are West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
- The other major rice producing states are Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Orissa, Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra.
- It is also grown in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Kashmir Valley.
- Wheat is the second most important food crop of India next to rice.
- It is a Rabi or winter crop. It is sown in the beginning of winter and harvested in the beginning of summer.
- Normally (in north India) the sowing of wheat begins in the month of October-November and harvesting is done in the month ofMarch-April.
- This is the staple food of millions of people particularly in the northern and north-western regions of India. Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:
- Temperature: It is primarily a crop of mid-latitude grassland. It requires cool climate. The ideal temperature is between 100C to 150C at the time of sowingand 210C to 260C at the time of ripening and harvesting.
- Rainfall: Wheat thrives well in areas receiving annual rainfall of about 75cm. Annual rainfall of about 100 cm is the upper limit for wheat cultivation. Like rice, wheat can also be grown by irrigation method in areas where rainfall is less than 75cm. Light drizzles at the time of ripening help in increasing the yield. But on the other hand, frost at the time of flowering and hailstorm at the time of ripening can cause heavy damage to the wheat crop.
- Soil: Although wheat can be grown in a variety of soils but well drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy soil is best suited for wheat cultivation. Plain areasare very well suited for wheat production.
- Labour: Wheat is extensive and highly mechanized and requires less labour.
- Distribution: The largest wheat producing states are U.P, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. Other than that the main regions of wheat production in India areHaryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
- Millets are short duration warm weather crops. These are coarse grain crops and are used for both food and fodder.
- These are Kharif cropsthough sometimes grown in rabi seasons too. These are sown in May-August and harvested in October-November. Today millets are mostly consumed by poor people as their staple food.
- In India, lots of millet is grown and these are known by various local names.
- Some of these are Jowar, Bajra, Ragi, Korra, Kodon, Kutki, Hraka, Bauti and Rajgira.
- In India, Jowar, Bajra and Ragi are grown on large areas but unfortunately area under these crops has drastically reduced over the years.
- Some of the geographical conditions for growing these crops are as follows:
- Temperature: These crops are grown where the temperature is high which ranges between 270C to 320C.
- Rainfall: As mentioned earlier that millets are ‘dry land crop’, therefore, rainfall ranging from 50 to 100 cm is ideal for their cultivation. These crops are rain-fed.
- Soil: Millets are less sensitive to soil deficiencies. They can be grown in inferior alluvial or loamy soil.
- Distribution: Jowar and Bajra are grown both in north and south India whereas ragi is generally concentrated in the southern India. Jowar and Bajra are grown in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karanataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Ragi is mostly concentrated in the southern India i.e. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In total, coarse cereals can be found in Rajasthan, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
- Jowar(sorghum), Bajra (Pearl millet/Bull Rush millet) Ragi (Finger millet/Buck wheat) are the important millets grown in India. Though, these are known as coarse grains, they have very high nutritional value. For example, ragi is very rich in iron, calcium, other micro nutrients and roughage.
- Maize is a crop which is used both as food and fodder. It is a kharif crop which requires temperature between 21°C to 27°C and grows well in old alluvial soil. In some states like Bihar maize is grown in rabi season also. Use of modern inputs such as HYV seeds, fertilisers and irrigation have contributed to the increasing production of maize. Major maize-producing states are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.
- India is the largest producer as well as the consumer of pulses in the world. These are the major source of protein in a vegetarian diet.
- Pulses need less moisture and survive even in dry conditions. Being leguminous crops, all these crops except arhar(pigeon pea) helps in restoring soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air.
- Therefore, these are mostly grown in rotation with other crops. Most of these are green manure crops too. Major pulse producing statesin India are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
- Though gram and tur (arhar or pigeon pea/red gram) are the more important pulses, several other pulses such as urd (black gram), mung (green gram), masur (lentil), kulthi (horse gram), matar(peas), khersi, cow pea(black-eyed gram) and moth are also grown. Pulses are generally fodder crops too.
- It is the most important of all the pulses. It accounts for about 37% of the production and about 30% of the total area of pulses in India. It is a Rabi cropwhich is sown between September and November and is harvested between February and April. It is either cultivated as a single crop or mixed with wheat, barley, linseed or mustard. Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:
- Temperature: It is grown in a wide range of climatic condition. Mild cool and comparatively dry climate with 200C -250C temperature.
- Rainfall: 40-45 cm rainfall is favorable for gram cultivation.
- Soil: It grows well on loamy soils.
- Distribution: Although gram is cultivated in several parts of the country, however, 90% of the total production comes from 5 states. These states are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana
Green Manure Crops:
- Crops grown for the purpose of restoring or increasing the organic matter content in the soil are called Green manure crops.
- Use of Green manure crops in cropping system is called ‘Green Manuring’ where the crop is grown in situ or brought from outside and incorporated when it is purposely grown.
- Green manuring are low cost and effective technology in minimising cost of fertilizers and safeguarding productivity.
- Green Leaf Manuring consists of gathering green biomass from nearby location and adding to the soil. Objectives of green manuring are to add Nitrogen to the companion or succeeding crop and add or sustain organic matter in the soil.
- Examples of leguminous Green Manures are as follows: Local name- Cowpea, Cluster bean (Guar), Green gram (Mung bean), Sesbania, Dhaincha, Sunhemp, Wild Indigo, Pillipesara, Berseem, Madras Indigo etc.
Cash crops are those crops which are grown for sale either in raw form or semi processed form. Major of them are as follows:
- Sugarcane is a Kharif crop. It is the main source of sugar, gur and khandsari.
- It also provides raw material for the manufacturing of alcohol.
- Bagasse, the crushed cane residue, has also multiple uses. It is used for manufacturing of paper. It is also an efficient substitute for petroleum products and a host of other chemical products.
- A part of it is also used as fodder. Some of the geographical conditions for the growth of sugarcane are as follows:
- Temperature: It requires hot and humid climate with an average temperature of 210C to 270C.
- Rainfall: 75-150 cm rainfall is favorable for sugarcane cultivation. Irrigation is required in those areas where rainfall is less than the prescribed limit.
- Soil: It can grow in a variety of soils. In fact sugarcane can tolerate any kind of soil that can retain moisture. But deep rich loamy soil is ideal for its growth. The soil should be rich in nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous but neither it should be too acidic nor alkaline. Flat, plain and level pleatue is an advantage for sugarcane cultivation because it facilitates irrigation and transportation of cane to the sugar mills. Sugarcane cultivation requires heavy manures and fertilizers because it exhausts the fertility of soils quickly and extensively.
- Labour: It is a labour oriented cultivation and required cheap labour. Ample human hands are required at every stage, i.e. sowing, hoeing, weeding, irrigation, cutting and carrying sugarcanes to the factories.
- Distribution: India has the largest area under sugarcane cultivation in the world and the second largest producer next to Brazil. As far as distribution of sugarcane cultivation in India is concerned, there are three distinct geographical regions in the country. These regions are:
- The Sutlej-Ganga plain from Punjab to Bihar containing 51% of the total area and 60% of the country’s total production. Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of sugar in India.
- The black soil belt from Maharashtra to Tamil Nadu along the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
- Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Krishna river valley.
- Cotton is the most important fibre crop not only of India but also of the entire world. It not only provides raw material for cotton textile industry but also its seed is used in Vanaspati oil industry.
- The cotton seed is also used as part of fodder for milch cattle for better milk production. Cotton is basically a kharif crop. Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:
- Distribution: India has the largest area under cultivation and is the largest producer of cotton next only to China and the USA. Within the country two third of total area and production is shared by four states. The main states for cotton production are Andhra Pradesh, Telegana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana.
- Labour: As picking of cotton has not been made mechanized till now, therefore a lot of cheap and efficient labour is required at the time of picking.
- Soil: Cotton cultivation is very closely related to Black soils of Deccan and Malwa plateau. However, it also grows well in alluvial soils of the Sutlej plain and red and laterite soils of the peninsular region.
- Rainfall: It grows mostly in the areas having at least 210 frost free days in a year. It requires modest amount of rainfall of 50 to 100 cm. However, cotton is successfully grown with the help of irrigation in the areas where rainfall is less than 50 cm. High amount of rainfall in the beginning and sunny and dry weather at the time of ripening are very useful for a good crop.
- Temperature: Cotton is the crop of tropical and sub-tropical areas and requires uniformly high temperature varying between 210C and 300C.
- It is an important natural fibre crop in India next to cotton.
- It is a kharif crop.
- It requires hot and humid climate with 120-150cm rainfall for its growth. Light sandy or clayey soils is best for its cultivation.
- It is labour intensive. In trade and industry, jute and mesta crop together known as raw jute as their uses are almost same.
- Raw jute plays an important role in the country’s economy.
- Raw jute was originally considered as a source of raw material for packaging industries only.
- But it has now emerged as a versatile raw material for diverse applications, such as, textile industries, paper industries, building and automotive industries, use as soil saver, use as decorative and furnishing materials, etc.
- Raw jute being bio-degradable and annually renewable source, it is considered as an environment-friendly crop and it helps in the maintenance of the environment and ecological balance.
- Further attraction of Jute lies in its easy availability, inexhaustible quantity at a comparatively cheaper rate. Moreover, it can easily be blended with other natural and manmade fibres.
- With its insignificant coverage of total cultivated area, it plays a predominant role in the country’s economy by generating employment, earning foreign exchange, solving many of the socio-economic problems, etc.
- In earlier years, Jute was considered as a Golden Fibre but there after it had to pass through different critical situation.
- The main problem came in the way with the introduction of synthetic fibre by the end of sixties/early seventies. After the development of diversified product of jute fibre and due to growing concern about the environment pollution, the importance of jute has again revived.
- The crop can be grown in low, medium and high land situation, both moisture stress and water stagnating condition. WhiteJute (Corchorus capsularis) can be grown comparatively in low land situation while that of Tossa Jute prefers medium and high land situation.
- Mesta is grown in almost all over the country. It being a hardy crop and can tolerate moisture stress; its cultivation is spread in different agro-climatic situations unlike jute which is concentrated only in eastern and north eastern States.
- Major jute and mesta producing states are West Bengal, Bihar and Assam. In a major part of Jute area, particularly in North Bengal, Bihar and North-Eastern States, the soil is acidic in nature.
- However, the Jute crop is growing in these areas in existing situation adjusting the crop sequence. It is a water intensive crop-not only for growth but for processing as well.
- It is one of the important groups of commercial crops in India.
- Oil extracted from oilseeds not only forms an important item of our diet but also serves as raw material for the manufacturing of hydrogenated oils, paints, varnishes, soaps, lubricants etc.
- Oil-cake (the residue after the oil is extracted from the oilseeds) form an important cattle feed and manure.
- Drylands of Malwa plateau (Madhya Pradesh), Marathwada (Maharashtra), Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana and Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka plateau are oilseeds growing regions of India.
- These crops together occupy about 14 percent of total cropped area in the country. Groundnut, rapeseed and mustard, sesamum, linseed, castor seed, soyabean and sunflower are the main oilseed crops grown in India.
It is the most important oilseed of India. Groundnut is grown both as kharif and Rabi crop but 90-95% of the total area is devoted to kharif crop. It is a rainfed crop. Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:
- Temperature: It thrives best in the tropical climate and requires 200C to 300C temperature.
- Rainfall: 50-75 cm rainfall is favorable for groundnut cultivation. It is highly susceptible to frost, prolonged drought, continuous rain and stagnant water. Therefore, dry winter is needed at the time of ripening.
- Soil: Well drained light sandy loams, red, yellow and black soils are well suited for its cultivation.
- Distribution: It is the most important oilseed of India and accounts for about half of the major oilseeds produced in the country. India is the largest producer of groundnut in the world. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Gujarat are the main producer of groundnut in India and account for about 60% of the total production. Another 30% of the total production comes from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Orissa.
- Soybean is known as the “Golden Bean” of the 20th Century.
- Though, Soybean is a legume crop, yet it is widely used as oilseed.
- Due to very poor cookability on account of inherent presence of trypsin inhibitor, it cannot be utilized as a pulse.
- It is now the second largest oilseed in India after groundnut.
- It grows in varied agro-climatic conditions but it is best crop in Kharif season.
- It has emerged as one of the important commercial crop in many countries.
- Due to its worldwide popularity, the international trade of Soybean is spread globally.
- Several countries such as Japan, China, Indonesia, Philippines, and European countries are importing Soybean to supplement their domestic requirement for human consumption and cattle feed.
- Soybean has great potential as an exceptionally nutritive and very rich protein food.
- It can supply the much needed protein to human diets, because it contains above 40 per cent protein of superior quality and all the essential amino acids particularly glycine, tryptophan and lysine, similar to cow’s milk and animal proteins. Soybean also contains about 20 per cent oil with an important fatty acid, lecithin and Vitamin A and D.
- The 4 percent mineral salts of soybeans are fairly rich in phosphorous and calcium. Major soyabean producing states are Madhya Pradesh, Maharshtra and Rajasthan
- Sunflower as an oilseed is a newly introduced crop in the country. Due to source of high quality edible oil, sunflower oil is used as cooking oil in different recipes. Its importance increases as sunflower oil is considered as a heart friendly oil.
- Besides oil, almost every part of sunflower has commercial value. This crop has gained importance due to its short duration of maturity, containing of excellent quality of oil, photo-insensitivity, wide adaptability into different kinds of cropping pattern, high-energy hull and drought tolerance. It is a short duration crop and completes its life cycle in about three months.
- Hence can be incorporated in different type of cropping pattern. Since it is a photo-insensitive crop, it can be grown throughout the year. Sunflower is cultivated as both kharif and rabi seasons but, two-thirds of production comes from rabi season crop. In addition, sunflower is also cultivated as summer crop in Punjab and West Bengal.
- Oil cake is rich in high quality protein (40 – 44 percent) and used as cattle and poultry feed. This crop is considered valuable from economic as well as ornamental point of view. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are the major sunflower producing states.
- Sesamum is a rainfed crop and requires 45-50 cm rainfall. It thrives well in areas having 21o-23oC temperature.
- Frost, prolonged drought and heavy rains for a longer duration are harmful to this crop.
- Well-drained light loamy soils are best suited to sesamum. It is cultivated in plains as well as on elevations upto 1,300 metres. It is grown as a kharif crop in the north and as a rabi crop in the south.
Rapeseed and Mustard:
- Like wheat and gram, they thrive only in cool climate of the Satluj-Ganga plain and very small quantity is grown in the peninsular India.
- They are mainly grown as rabi crop in pure or mixed form with wheat, gram and barley.
- Although this crop can be grown under varied geographical conditions, it prefers cool, moist climate with about 20oC temperature and 75 cm rainfall.
- Clay loams, deep black soils and alluvial soils are best suited for its cultivation. It can be cultivated upto a height of 800 metres above sea level.
- It is a rabi-crop which is sown in October-November and harvested in March-April.
- Castor seed plant grows into a small tree and is generally raised as a mixed crop in tropical and sub-tropical climates.
- It thrives well in areas of 200C-250C temperature and 50-75 cm rainfall.
- It is grown on red sandy loams in the peninsular India and on light alluvial soils of the Satluj-Ganga plain.
- Almost the whole area of castor seed production is rainfed. It is a Kharif crop in the north and a rabi crop in the south.
- India is famous for its tea gardens.
- Tea plantation in India was started by the Britishers in 1923 when wild tea plants were discovered by them in the hilly and forest areas of Assam.
- Tea is made from tender sprouts of tea plants by drying them.
- India is one of the leading tea producing country in the world. China and Sri Lanka are other leading producers of tea. Some of the geographical conditions for the growth of tea are as follows:
- Temperature: It requires hot and wet climate. The ideal temperature for the growth of tea bushes and leaf varies between 200C to 300C. If temperature eitherrises above 350C or goes below 100C, it would be harmful for the growth of tea bushes and leaves.
- Rainfall: As mentioned above tea requires a good amount of rainfall ranging between 150-300 cm and the annual rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year. Long dry spell is harmful for tea.
- Soil: Tea bush grows well in well drained, deep, friable loamy soil. However, virgin forest soil rich in humus and iron content are considered to be the best soils for the tea plantation. Tea is a shade loving plant and grows better when planted along with shady trees.
- Labour: Cheap and efficient labour is required for tea production.
- Distribution: Assam is the leading producer that accounts for more than 50% of tea production of India. Tea producing areas of Assam are the hill slopes bordering the Brahmaputra and Surma valleys. West Bengal is the second largest producer of tea where tea is mostly grown in the districts of Darjeeling, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and cooch Bihar districts. Tamil Nadu is the third largest producer where tea growing areas are mostly restricted to Nilgiri hills.
- It is the indigenous crop of Ethiopia (Abysinia Plateau). From Ethiopia, it was taken to Arabia in 11th Century.
- From Arabia, the seeds were brought by Baba Budan in 17th Century and were raised in Baba Budan hills of Karnataka.
- But it was British planters who took keen interest and large coffee estates were established in the hills of Western Ghats. Some of the geographical conditions for the growth of coffee are as follows:
- Temperature: It requires hot and humid climate with temperature varying between 150C and 280C. it is generally grown under shady trees. Therefore,strong sun shine, high temperature above 300C, frost and snowfall are harmful for coffee cultivation. Dry weather is necessary at the time of ripening of berried.
- Rainfall: Rainfall between 150 and 250 cm is favorable for coffee cultivation.
- Soil: Well drained, rich friable loamy soil containing good deal of humus and minerals like iron and calcium are ideal for coffee to increase productivity.
- Labour: Like tea, coffee cultivation also requires plenty of cheap and skilled labour for various purposes like sowing, transplanting, pruning, plucking, drying, grading and packaging of coffee.
- Distribution: Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the main states of coffee production in India.
- In simple terms, horticulture can be defined as the science of growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
- India is a producer of tropical as well as temperate fruits.
- Mangoes of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, oranges of Nagpur and Cherrapunjee (Meghalaya), bananas of Kerala, Mizoram, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, lichi and guava of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, pineapples of Meghalaya, grapes of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra, apples, pears, apricots and walnuts of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are in great demand the world over.
- Major flower growing states are Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in South, West Bengal in East, Maharashtra in West and Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana in North.
- Major exporting flower like orchid covers the entire region of North-Eastern region especially in the state of Arunanchal Pradesh which is also known as Orchid State of India. India produces about 13 per cent of the world’s vegetables.
- It is an important producer of pea, cauliflower, onion, cabbage, tomato, brinjal and potato.
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