Paheli and Boojho went to their uncle’s house during the summer vacation. Their uncle is a farmer. One day they saw some tools like khurpi, sickle, shovel, plough, etc., in the field.
Till 10,000 B.C. people were nomadic. They were wandering in groups from place to place in search of food and shelter. They ate raw fruits and vegetables and started hunting for animals for food. Later, they could cultivate land and produce rice, wheat and other food crops. Thus, was born ‘Agriculture’.
Cultivation of crops involves several activities undertaken by farmers over a period of time. You may find that these activities are similar to those carried out by a gardener or even by you when you grow ornamental plants in your house. These activities or tasks are referred to as agricultural practices. These activities are listed below.
The preparation of soil is the first step before growing a crop. One of the most important tasks in agriculture is to turn the soil and loosen it. This allows the roots to penetrate deep into the soil. The loose soil allows the roots to breathe easily even when they go deep into the soil. Why does the loosening of soil allow the roots to breathe easily?
Sowing is the most important part of crop production. Before sowing, good quality seeds are selected. Good quality seeds are clean and healthy seeds of a good variety. Farmers prefer to use seeds which give a high yield.
The substances which are added to the
soil in the form of nutrients for the
healthy growth of plants are called
manure and fertilisers.
Soil supplies mineral nutrients to the crop. These nutrients are essential for the growth of plants. In certain areas, farmers grow crop after crop in the same field. The field is never left uncultivated or fallow. Imagine what happens to the nutrients?
All living beings need water to live. Water is important for proper growth and development of flowers, fruits and seeds of plants. Water is absorbed by the plant roots. Along with water, minerals and fertilisers are also absorbed. Plants contain nearly 90% water. Water is essential because germination of seeds does not take place under dry conditions. Nutrients dissolved in water get transported to each part of the plant. Water also protects the crop from both frost and hot air currents. To maintain the moisture of the soil for healthy crop growth, fields have to be watered regularly.
Boojho and Paheli went to a nearby
wheat field and saw that there were some
other plants in the field.
In a field many other undesirable plants may grow naturally along with the crop. These undesirable plants are called weeds.
Harvesting of a crop is an important task. The cutting of crop after it is mature is called harvesting. In harvesting, crops are pulled out or cut close to the ground. It usually takes 3 to 4 months for a cereal crop to mature.
Storage of produce is an important task. If the crop grains are to be kept for longer time, they should be safe from moisture, insects, rats and microorganisms. The fresh crop has more moisture. If freshly harvested grains (seeds) are stored without drying, they may get spoilt or attacked by organisms, losing their germination capacity. Hence, before storing them, the grains are properly dried in the sun to reduce the moisture in them. This prevents the attack by insect pests, bacteria and fungi. Farmers store grains in jute bags or metallic bins. However, large scale storage of grains is done in silos and granaries to protect them from pests like rats and insects [Fig. 1.10 (a) and (b)].
After completing this Table, you must have seen that, like plants, animals also provide us with different kinds of food. Many people living in the coastal areas consume fish as a major part of their diet. In the previous classes you have learnt about the food that we obtain from plants. We have just seen that the process of crop production involves a number of steps like selection of seeds, sowing, etc. Similarly, animals reared at home or in farms, have to be provided with proper food, shelter and care. When this is done on a large scale, it is called animal husbandry.