CROP PRODUCTION 1 (Land Preparation) - Form 1 Agriculture Notes

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Introduction

  • A piece of land which is prepared is known as seedbed.
  • A seedbed is a piece of land that is prepared ready to receive planting materials.

Seedbed Preparation

Reasons for Seedbed Preparation;

  • To enable water to infiltrate.
  • To kill weeds
  • To improve soil aeration
  • To destroy pests and diseases.
  • To incorporate organic matter in the soil.
  • For easy planting.
  • To facilitate root penetration.

Operations in Land Preparation

Land Clearing

  • Clearing of land is necessary when:
  • Opening up a virgin land.
  • A stalk growing crop was previously planted.
  • There is long interval between primary and secondary cultivation.
  • Land was left fallow for a long time.

    Procedure

  • Tree felling and removal of stumps and roots.
  • Burning
  • Slashing
  • Use of chemicals.

    Note: Burning should be avoided where possible since it;
  • Leads to loss of organic matter,
  • Kills soil organisms
  • Destroys soil structure and plant nutrients.

Primary Cultivation

  • This is the initial breaking of land.
  • It is done early before the onset of the rains to:
    • Give time for soil organisms to act on organic matter.
    • Allow gaseous exchange to take place, thus carbon dioxide diffuses out of the soil while oxygen enters into the soil.
    • Allow other operations to take place in time.

Reasons for primary cultivation:

  • Remove weeds.
  • Burry organic matter.
  • Open up soil for infiltration of water and air.
  • Expose pests and disease causing organisms.
  • Soften the soil for easy planting.

Operations in primary cultivation

  • Hand digging ;
    Use of hand tools ;
    • Jembes,
    • Mattocks,
    • Fork-jembes.

  • Mechanical cultivation ;
    Use of mouldboard ploughs;
    • Disc ploughs,
    • Chisel ploughs,
    • Subsoilers
    • Rippers.

  • Use of Ox-Ploughs ;
    Which can be drawn by;
    • Oxen,
    • Donkeys,
    • Camels

Depth of Cultivation

Depends on:

  • The type of crop to be planted/size of seed.
  • The implements available.
  • The type of soil.

Choice of Implement

Determined by:

  • The condition of land.
  • The type of tilth required/type of crop.
  • Depth of cultivation.

Secondary Tillage

  • These are refinement practices on the seedbed that follow primary cultivation.
  • It is also known as harrowing.

Reasons for secondary Tillage:

  • To remove the germinating weeds.
  • To break soil clods to produce required tilth.
  • To level the seedbed for uniform planting.
  • To incorporate organic matter/manure into the soil.

Factors determining number of secondary cultivation:

  • Soil moisture content.
  • Size of the planting materials.
  • Condition of the soil after primary cultivation.
  • Slope of the land.

Tertiary Operations:

Ridging ;

  • The process of digging soil on a continuous line and heaping on one side to produce a furrow and a bund (ridge).
  • It is important for root crops, to allow root expansion and for soil and water conservation.

Rolling:

  • It is the compaction of the soil to produce a firm surface which increases seed-soil contact and prevents wind erosion.

Levelling;

  • Production of an even, uniform surface which promotes uniform planting.

Subsoiling:

- This is deep cultivation into the subsoil layer to break up any hardpan which might have developed.

It is done for the following reasons:-

  • To facilitate drainage.
  • Bring up leached nutrients to the surface.
  • Increase aeration of the soil.
  • To improve root penetration.
  • The implements used include chisel plough and subsoilers.

Minimum Tillage:

- This is the application of a combination of farming practices with the aim of reducing the disturbance of the soil.

Examples of which include:

  • Use of herbicides.
  • Mulching and cover-cropping.
  • Timely operations to prevent weed infestation.
  • Strip cultivation.
  • Uprooting and slashing of weeds.

Reasons for Minimum Tillage

  • To reduce cost of cultivation.
  • To control soil erosion.
  • To preserve soil moisture.
  • To prevent root exposure and damage.
  • To reconstruct destroyed soil structure.

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