Crop Production IV (Field Practices) - Agriculture Form 2 Notes

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Introduction

  • Field practices are activities carried out on the field to facilitate proper growth and maximum yield of the various crops grown.
  • They include the following:
    • Crop Rotation
    • Mulching
    • Routing field practices
    • Crop protection
    • Harvesting      


Crop Rotation

  • This is the growing of different types on the same piece of land in different seasons, in an orderly sequence.

Importance of Crop Rotation

  • Maximizes use of nutrients and moisture.
  • Breaks the life cycle of pests and disease agents.
  • Maintains good soil structure.
  • Reduces soil erosion due to adequate soil cover.
  • Controls weeds that are specific to certain crops e.g. striga on cereals
  • Improves soil fertility when legumes are included in crop rotation.

Factors Influencing Rotational Programme

  • Growth habits and nutrient req uirements.
  • Liability to soil erosion.
  • Crops attacked by the same pests and diseases should not follow one another in the programme.
  • Availability of capital and market for example beans or peas in legumes.


Mulching

  • This is the placement of materials such as banana leaves or polythene sheets on the ground next to the growing crop.
  • These materials should not come into contact with the base of the crop as they may encourage pest attack.

Importance of Mulching

  • Reduction of evaporation rate.
  • Smothers weeds.
  • Moderation of soil temperature.
  • Reduction of speed of run offs.

Types of Mulching Materials

  • Organic mulching materials such as;
    • Sawdust, wood shavings, coffee pulps, rice husks,
    • Dry grass, banana leaves, dry maize stalk, napier grass.
  • Inorganic or synthetic materials commonly used are either black or transparent polythene sheets.

Advantages of Mulching

  • Prevents water evaporation thus maintaining moisture in the soil for crop use.
  • Acts as an insulator thus modifying the soil temperature.
  • It helps to control soil erosion.
  • It controls weeds by suppressing them.
  • After decomposition organic mulch add nutrients to the soil thus improving its fertility.
  • Humus produced after the decomposition of organic mulch improves soil structure and the water holding capacity of the soil.

Disadvantages of Mulching

  • It is a fire risk.
  • Provides a breeding ground as well as a hiding place for pests that finally may attack the crops.
  • Traps the light showers of rainfall thus lowering the chances of rain drops reaching the soil.
  • It is expensive to acquire, transport and apply.

 

 

 



Routine Field Practices

Thinning

  • Removal of excess, weak, damaged or diseased seedlings.
  • Allows the remaining seedlings to get enough nutrients and moisture.
  • It is aimed at obtaining optimum plant population.

Gapping

  • Filling the gaps so as to maintain proper plant population.
  • Gaps occur as a result of failure of seeds to germinate or dying of seedlings.
  • It should be done early enough for the seedlings to catch up with the other plants

Rogueing

  • This is the removal and destruction of a diseased part of a plant or the whole plant.
  • The destruction can be achieved through burning of the uprooted plant.

Pruning

  • Removal of extra unwanted parts of the plant.

Reasons for pruning are:

  • To remove old, unproductive or diseased, damaged parts of the plant.
  • To train plants to take a desirable shape for example formative pruning in tea.
  • To control crop leave ratio hence avoiding overbearing.
  • To control diseases and pests for example antestia bugs in coffee.
  • To facilitate other operations such as spraying, picking and seeding.
  • To reduce wastage of chemicals applied on the crop.
  • To remove branches that interfere with traffic, telephone lines and view.
  • Open up the plant to allow free air circulation and exposure of leaves to sunlight.

Note: Tools used are secateur, pruning saw and pruning knife.

Earthing-up

  • This is the placement of soil in form of a heap around the base of the plant.
  • It is mostly carried out in tuber crops such as Irish and sweet potatoes to improve tuber formation.
  • It is also carried out in groundnuts and maize.
  • In groundnuts it promotes production of pods while in maize it provides support to prevent lodging.

Crop Protection

Weed Control

  • Weeds are plants growing where they are not wanted, that is a plant out of place.
  • Such plants include blackjack, couch grass, thorn apple and Mcdonald's eye.
  • Such plants should be eradicated or controlled using recommended methods.

Pest Control

  • Crop pests are living organisms that are harmful to the crops.
  • They include; insects, nematodes, rodents, thrips and mites.
  • They cause great damage to crops in the field and stored produce.

Control of Crop Diseases

  • A disease is any alteration in the state of an organism and functions of a plant or its parts.
  • Disease causing organisms are known as pathogens.
  • They include fungi, viruses and bacteria.
  • Diseases caused by fungi are referred to as fungal diseases while those caused by viruses and bacteria are referred to as viral and bacterial respectively.


Harvesting

  • It is the gathering or of the farm produce after maturity.

Factors Determing the Time of Harvesting:

  • Stage of maturity of the crops.
  • Use of the crop.
  • Tastes and preferences of consumers.
  • Weather conditions, hence liability to spoilage.
  • Moisture.

Factors that Determine the Methods of Harvesting:

  • Scale of farming for example large scale farming machines are used.
  • Type of crop for example pyrethrum is harvested by hand.
  • Uniformity in ripening of the crop for example wheat is harvested by use of combined harvester while coffee is harvested by hand.
  • Uniformity in height of the crop and size of seed, fruits and flowers.
  • Financial status of the farmer.
  • Part of the plant to be harvested.


Post-Harvest Practices

  • These are the preparations carried out on crop produce before it gets to the consumer.
  • They include;
    • Threshing/shelling.
    • Drying.
    • Cleaning.
    • Sorting and grading.
    • Dusting.
    • Processing.
    • Packaging.


Storage

Purpose of Storage

  • Prevent spoilage
  • Make the produce available for future use
  • To await good market prices.

 

Requirements for a Proper Store

  • It should be clean.
  • It should be well ventilated.
  • It should be raised from the ground to prevent damp conditions.
  • It should be dry.
  • It should be strong to hold crop produce.
  • It should be easy to clean.
  • It should be vermin-proof.
  • It should be secure from theft.
  • It should be treated against pests such as weevils.

Types of Storage

  • Traditional storage structures.
  • Modern storage structures.

Preparation of the Store

  • Cleaning the store.
  • Maintenance
  • Dusting the store with appropriate chemicals.
  • Clearing the vegetation around the store to keep off vermin.

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