Improvement in Crop Yields

In India, there has been a 4x rate rise in food grain production in India from 1960 to 2004, with just 25 percent growth in the cultivable land area.

Before learning the details of “how to improve crop yield?”, let's understand the crop yield meaning.

Crop Yield Definition: Crop yield is a measure of the quantity of farm production produced per unit of land area.

This was achieved by various practices involved in farming and they are divided into three stages they are:

  • Crop variety improvement - Choosing right seeds for planting

  • Crop production improvement - Cultivating of the crop plants

  • Crop protection management. – Protecting the crop from loss


Crop Variety Improvement

Initial challenge to improve crop yields is to find a crop variety that increase crop yield.

Breeding will be useful to select various strains of crops for features such as disease resistance, fertilizer response, product quality and high yields.

Hybridization helps to incorporate desirable characters into crop varieties.

Introducing a gene that would provide the required characteristic to increase crop yield.

The aim of improving high yielding crop varieties

  • To get Higher yield by increasing the productivity of the crop per acre.

  • To obtain an Enriched quality of crop products (quality factor may vary from crop to crop). For example: Baking quality is considered in wheat; protein quality in pulses, oil; preserving quality in fruits and vegetables.

  • To grow Biotic and abiotic resistant Crops, where they can be protected from diseases, insects and nematodes, drought, salinity, waterlogging, heat, cold and frost

  • The duration of the crop from sowing to harvesting is shortened because, the shorter the time, more economical is the variety, which helps farmers to grow multiple rounds of crops in a year and also reduces the cost of crop production.

  • Wider adaptability crops are grown because crop production is not altered by different environmental conditions

  • Desirable agronomic characteristics like can be grown 

  1. Desirable characters for fodder crops: Tall and profuse branching

  2. Desired characters for cereals: dwarfness


Crop Production Improvement

It is the money or financial conditions that let farmers to take advantage of different farming practices and technologies. There is a correlation between the higher yields and inputs.

Production practices can be at various levels. They include production practices at ‘no cost’, production practices ‘low cost’ and production practices at ‘high cost’.


Nutrient Management

Plants need the nutrients which are necessary for growth and these are supplied by air, water and soil.

There are sixteen vital nutrients which are important for plants.

Air supplies carbon and oxygen. Hydrogen comes from water.

Soil supplies the other thirteen nutrients to plants. Among which, nutrients which are required in larger quantities are called Macro nutrients and nutrients which require in lesser quantity are called Micro nutrients.

Nutrients Supplied by Air, Water and Soil

Source

Nutrients

Air

Carbon, Oxygen

Water

Hydrogen, Oxygen


Soil

Macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur

Micronutrients: iron, manganese, boron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, chlorine


These nutrient deficiencies affect plant physiological processes including reproduction, growth, and disease susceptibility. By providing these nutrients in the form of manure and fertilizers, the soil can be cultivated to increase yield.


Irrigation

Most of India's agriculture is rain - fed, that is, crop productivity in most areas depends on timely monsoons, and sufficient rainfall spreads through most growing season. Poor monsoons thus induce crop failure.

Ensuring the crops get water at the right stages during their growing season will increase every crop 's expected yields. Consequently, other steps are being used to irrigate more and more fields.

Several different types of irrigation systems are adopted to supply water to agricultural land, depending on the type of available water resources. These comprise wells, canals, tanks, and rivers.

Rainwater harvesting and maintenance of watersheds are new initiatives to improve the water available for agriculture.


Cropping Patterns

To get maximum benefit, three ways of cropping patterns can be used. They are:

  • Mixed cropping

  • Inter cropping

  • Crop rotation

When two or more crops are grown simultaneously on the same land then it is known as mixed cropping.

For Example: groundnut + sunflower, wheat + gram or wheat + mustard,

When two or more crops simultaneously on the same field in a definite pattern is known as Inter-cropping.

For Example:  finger millet (bajra) + cowpea (lobia).

Crops are selected in such a way that they have specific nutrient needs. This ensures maximum use of the supplied nutrients, and also prevents the spread of pests and diseases to all plants in a field that belong to one crop.

The planting of different crops in a preplanned succession on a piece of land is known as crop rotation. The crop rotation is done for different crop types, depending on the period.


Crop Protection Management

A large number of insects, insect pests, and diseases infest the field crops. If weeds and pests are not controlled at the right time then the crops can be damaged so much that most of the crop is lost.


Measures to Overcome the Damage

  • During the early stages of crop growth, the removal of weeds from cultivated fields is essential for a good harvest.

  • Should be safeguarded from insects because: 

  1. They cut the root, leaf and, stem

  2. They drain the sap of cells from different parts of the plant

  3. They bore into stem and fruits, thus affect the health of the crop 

  • Usage of pesticides (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) protects crop from diseases caused by pathogens.

  • Weed control methods also include mechanical removal.

  • Preventive methods such as proper preparation of seed beds, timely seeding of crops, intercropping and rotation of crops also help in weed control.

  • Other preventive measures against pests include the use of resistant varieties, and ploughing in summer, where fields are planted deep in summer to destroy weeds and pests.

  • Storage of grains is very important as loss is very high at this stage because of insects, rodents, fungi, mites in the place of storage. Those factors can be controlled through proper treatment and systematic warehouse management.


Summary

Improvement in crop yield is achieved by various practices involved in farming and they are divided into three stages: Crop variety improvement where right seeds are chosen for planting through breeding, hybridization; Crop production improvement, in this step crop plants are cultivated. It includes nutrient management, irrigation and cropping patterns and last step is Crop protection management where crops are protected from pests, weeds and any other damages.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why is Crop Yield Important in Agriculture?

Crop yield is the quantity of crop produced per area of land. It's an important metric to understand because it helps us understand food security and also explains why your tomatoes can cost more one year and then less the following year.

2. Why Do We Need to Improve Crop Yield?

The reasons we need to increase crop production include: the world's population continues to grow, with higher demand for food, livestock (which eat the crops produced), biofuels, fiber, food by-products, and a myriad of other crop-producing things.

3. List Out 5 Ways of Improving Crop Yield?

  • Plant Early, Plant Effectively

  • Practice Seasonal Soil Rotation

  • Know the yield Potential

  • Always Scout Your Fields

  • Ensure Proper Water Drainage

  • Utilize Fertilizers