Introduction to Crop Protection

To achieve the simplest and therefore the maximum yield from his farm, a farmer has got to minimize his crop loss and it demands proper and sustainable agricultural practices. By employing the proper agricultural practices he can aim to enhance the yield of the crops. For improving the yield, a farmer must improve the variability of crops, its production management, and its protection management.

What is Crop Protection?

Crop protection is the general method or the practice of protecting crop yields from different agents including pests, weeds, plant diseases, and other organisms that cause damage to agricultural crops.

Along with the crops, agricultural fields would have weeds, small animals like rats, mites, insects, pests, disease-causing pathogens and regularly raided by birds. these factors are mainly liable for the loss or damage to the crops. Thus to yield high crop production, farmers got to protect the crop from these pests. Hence, crop protection management is vital before, during, and after cultivation. 

What are the Methods of Crop Protection

There are many crop protection tools and practices, which farmers can implement to extend the success of their crops.

Weed Management

Weeds are unwanted plants growing alongside the crops. These undesirable plants steal the nutrients, sunlight, water, and other resources from the crops and affect their growth, which ends up within the undernourished crops and reduces the yields. Farmers remove these weeds by a process called weeding with the aim of safeguarding the crops. Weeding is the process of controlling the expansion of weeds. There are various methods of weeding:

Spraying weedicides on the weeds

Manually plucking the weeds by hands

Removing weeds by trowel and harrow

Plowing the sector to get rid of the weeds even before sowing the seeds

Few samples of weeds are Amaranthus, Cyprinus rotundas, Bermuda grass, etc.

Apart from Weeding, Herbicides – a chemical substance also play a crucial role in controlling the expansion of the weeds and also help in preventing erosion and water loss.

Pests and Insects Management

Both insects and pests are the main explanation for crop damage and yield loss. they might ruin the entire crop and eat up the massive portion of grains. In fact, they will reduce crop output by 30-50(%) per annum if left unchecked. The simplest ways to guard crop damage are by incorporating integrated pest and bug management. Spraying insecticides, pesticides help to attenuate crop damage by controlling the insects and other pests.

Plant Disease Management

Pathogenic diseases are another sort of crop-damaging factor. Microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses affect different parts of the crop through various means. Crops might be shielded from these diseases by using pesticides and biocontrol agents. These are crop protection management, which should be followed before and through cultivation.

Crop Protection After the Cultivation

Once the crop has reached maturity, it now must be harvested. Harvesting can be defined as the cutting and gathering of the mature crop. The term harvesting also generally includes the immediate post-harvest practices like threshing and winnowing. allow us to check out both these processes

Threshing: the method 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 think about before the harvesting of crops. The crops need close examination to make sure that harvesting isn't premature. This results in the shedding of seeds and loss of crops. If the crops are over-ripened, they'll lose their value within the market or may even be non-consumable.

Harvesting in India is usually done manually. Sickles may be a tool that wants to cut the crop. This method may be laborious and time-consuming and only suitable for small-sized farms. On larger farms, a harvester is employed which mixes harvesting with threshing and winnowing.

A safe place should be chosen to store the cultivated grains to avoid product loss. Chances of grain loss are much higher during this point than before cultivation. Therefore, the methods of protection got to be better. Common pests and rodents and a few environmental conditions like humidity and temperature are the responsible factors for the loss. Certain precautions help us to stop this loss. Before storing the grains, it should be cleaned and dried completely in sunlight because it helps in protecting the crops from fungal growth, which is caused by the presence of moisture. Pests could even be killed by a method called fumigation.

As per modern agricultural technologies, there are various tools for managing weeds, insects, and diseases. The tools include the applications of pesticides, profile, nutrient management, etc.

Why do we Need Crop Protection?

Globally, on average, per annum, farmers lose 20 to 30 (%) of their cultivated crops thanks to pests and other diseases. so as to scale back these losses, crop protection is far more required. There are differing types of Crop Protection products available within the market and are eco-friendly or environment-friendly products that help in preserving the environment and also protect the crops. These products include – Fungicides, Herbicides, Insecticides, and Seed care.

Crop Protection Products

The following are the different types of crop protection products used by farmers to safeguard their crop yield:

  • Fungicides are pesticides used to kill fungi. They are chemical agents that are toxic in nature that are used to kill fungi and its spores in order to prevent and inhibit its growth as they severely affect crop health. But fungicides do not protect the crop against bacteria, viruses and nematodes. 

  • Herbicides are pesticides that kill unwanted vegetation and prevent the undesired plant species growth. They are a chemical agent used to manipulate or inhibit the growth of nuisance plants like grass and weeds. These herbicides are crop protection chemicals because they kill weeds that fight the crops for the same nutrients in the soil required for a good yield. Herbicides are also called weed killers. 

  • Insecticides are pesticides used to kill insects that affect crop growth. They are chemical agents that are toxic in nature and are formulated with the sole purpose of repelling, harming, or killing one or more species of insects. 

  • Nematicides are chemically synthesized substances used to adversely affect or kill nematodes. Nematodes are worm-like invertebrates that are parasitic in nature. They attack the roots of the plant in the soil and spoil the crop. This makes the crop more susceptible to bacterial and fungal damage as well.

Students can learn about the industrial use of more such chemical agents from other topics as well on Vedantu. Study material about real-life applications of all sciences is available for free download on the Vedantu website and app.

Effect of Climate Change on Crops

We may not feel it but just like how we can see climate change affect almost every aspect of human lives, one can observe that it affects crop protection as well.

Climate change affects the ecosystem of weeds, pests, and pathogenic diseases. The rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide on earth lead to an alarming elevation of global temperatures, which believe it or not, affects the soil ecology as well. These changing circumstances need to be under scrutiny from an agricultural perspective by researchers and professionals.

Effects on broad patterns of the insect community and rates of herbivory due to global warming need to be studied. This will determine the use of pesticides in an effective manner that prevents the pest species from becoming resistant. One of the ways would be to employ techniques that prevent the killing of natural enemies of these pests which can keep the pest away from the crop due to natural competition.

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