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Shankar IAS: Summary of Agriculture - Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

  • Crop production, livestock farming, fisheries, forestry etc.
  • Accounts for about 14.7% of the total export earnings and provide raw material to a large number of Industries.

Problems of Indian agriculture

  • Fragmentation of land holding. 
  • Existence of small and marginal farmers
  • Regional variation.
  • Dependence of seasonal rainfall. 
  • Low productivity of land.
  • Increasing of disguised unemployment
  • Disorder in marketing of Agricultural products.
  • Weak land reformation.

Shankar IAS: Summary of Agriculture | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

(i) Classification based on climate

  • Tropical: Crops grow well in warm& hot climate. E.g. Rice, sugarcane, Jawar etc 
  • Temperate: Crops grow well in CO01 climate. E.g. Wheat, Oats, Gram, Potato etc.

(ii) Classification Based on-growing-season:
(a) Kharif/Rainy/Monsoon crops:

  • Crops grown in monsoon months from June to Oct-Nov,
  • require warm, wet, weather at major period of crop growth,
  • Also required short day length for flowering. E.g. Cotton, Rice, Jo war, bajara.

(b) Rabi/winter/cold seasons crops

  • The crops grown in winter season from Oct to March month.
  • Crops grow well in cold and dry weather.
  • Require longer day length for flowering. 
  • E.g. Wheat, gram, sunflower etc.

(c) Summer/Zaid crops:

  • Crops grown in summer month from March to June. Require warm dry weather for major growth period and longer day length for flowering. 
  • E.g. Groundnuts, Watermelon, Pumpkins, Gourds.

(ii) Agronomic Classification of Crops
(a) Cereals

  • Cultivated grasses grown for their edible starchy grains.
  • Larger grains used as staple food are cereals Rice, wheat, maize, barley and oats. 
  • The important cereal of world RICE.

(b) Millets

  • Annual grasses of the group cereals. But they are grown in less area or less important area whose productivity and economics are also less important.
  • Staple food of poor people. In India pearl millet is a staple food in Rajasthan
  • It is based on area production and productivity and grain size.
    (i) Major millets- Sorghum /Jowar/Cholam, Pearl Millet /Bajra/cumbu, Finger millet or ragi
    (ii) Minor millets- Fox tail millet/Thenai, little millet/samai, Common millet/Panivaraugu, Barnyard millet /Kudiraivali, Kodomillet /Varagu

(iii) Sugar Crops

  • Juice extracted from stem used for jiggery. Or sugar 
  • Number of by products like Molasses, bagasse, pressmud 
  • Molasses used for alcohol and yeast formation 
  • Bagasse for paper making and fuel Pressmud used for soil amendment
  • Trash (green leaf +dry foliage)- the waste is used for cattle feed Sugar beet -Tuber for extraction of sugar

(iv) Starch Crops or Tuber Crops

  • Potato
  • Tapioca or cassava
  • Sweet potato

(v) Fibre Crops

  • Epidermal hairs of seed coats is the economic portion
  • Lint (cappas seed) has industrial value (fibre)
  • Stalk is of fuel nature, garment purpose Seed for cattle feed, oil is edible

(vi) Cotton

  • Gassypium arboreum (Karunganni) 
  • herbaceuth (uppam cotton)
  • hirsutirm (American cotton or Cambodium cotton)
  • barbadense (Egyptian cotton or Sea island cotton)

(vii) Stem Vibres
Jute (channal), Mesta (pulicha keerai), Sun hemp, Sisal hemp

(viii) Spices and Condiments

  • Products of crop plants are used to flavour taste and sometime color the fresh preserved food. 
  • E.g. ginger.garlic.chili, cum in onion; coriander, cardamom, pepper, turmeric etc. 
  • Medicinal& aromatic crops: Medicinal plants includes cinchona, isabgali, opium poppy, senna, belladonna, rauwolfra, iycorice and 
  • Aromatic plants such as lemon grass, citronella gras, palmorsa, Japanese mint, peppermint, rose, jasmine, henna etc.

(ix) Classification based on No. of cotyledons:

  • Monocots or monocotyledons: Having one cotyledon in the seed. E.g. all cereals & Millets.
  • Dicots or dicotyledonous: Crops having two cotyledons in the seed. E.g. all legumes & pulses and almost all the trees.

(x) Classification based on length of photoperiod required for floral initiation:
Most plants are influenced by relative length of the day & night, especially for floral initiation, the effect on plant is known as photoperiodism depending on the length of photoperiod required for floral ignition, plants are classified as

(xi) Short-day plants: 
Flower initiation takes place when days are short less then ten hours. E.g rice, Jo war, green gram, black gram etc.

(xii) Long day’s plants: 
require long days are more than ten hours for floral initiation. E.g. Wheat, Barley, etc.

(xiii) Day neutral plants: 
Photoperiod does not have much influence for phase change for these plants. E.g. Cotton, sunflower, etc.

(xiv) Zero tillage (No tillage): 
In this, new crop is planted in the residues of the previous erop without any prior soil tillage or seed bed preparation and it is-possible when all the weeds are controlled by. the use of herbicides.

  • Advantages of Zero-tillage:
    (i) Zero tilled soils are homogenous in structure with more number of earthworms
    (ii) Organic matter content increases due to less mineralization
    (iii) Surface runoff is reduced due to presence of mulch
  • Disadvantages"
    (i) Higher amount of nitrogen has to be applied for mineralization of orgartie-matter in zero tillage
    (ii) Perennial weeds may be a problem
    (iii) High number of volunteer plants and build-up of pests


(i) Cropping intensity:

  • Number of crops cultivated in a piece of land per annum is cropping intensity.
  • In Punjab and Tamilnadu the cropping intensity is more than 100 percent i.e. around 140-145%. In Rajasthan the cropping intensity is less

(ii) Cropping Pattern.
The yearly sequence and spatial arrangement of crops and fallow on a given area is called cropping pattern

(iii) Multiple cropping system:

  • Growing more than two crops in a Piece of land in a year in orderly succession, also called as intensive cropping, used to intensify the production.
  • It is possible only When assured resources are available (land, labour, capital and water).

Repetitive growing of the same sole crop in the same land.
(i) Mono cropping:- Continuous production of one and the same crop year after year or season season is called mono cropping.
(ii) Sole cropping:- One crop variety grown alone ina pure stand at normal density
(iii) Relay cropping:- Growing the succeeding crop when previous crop attend its maturity stage-or- sowing of the next crop immediately before the harvest of the standing crops. E.g. Paddy- Lucerne, Rice-Cauliflower-Onion-summer gourds.
(iv) Intercropping:- Growing two or more crops simultaneously with distinct row arrangement on the same field at the same time.
(v) Base crop:- primary crop which is planted/ sown at its optimum sole crop population in an intercropping situation.
(vi) Intercrop:- This is a second crop planted in between rows of base crop with a view to obtain extra yields ,with intercrop without compromise in the main crop yields. Ex: Maize + Cowpea; Sorghum + Red gram, Groundnut + Red gram; Potato + Mustard; Wheat+ Mustard
(vii) Synergistic Cropping:- Yields of both crops are higher than of their pure crops on unit area basis Ex: Sugarcane + Potato Multi
(viii) Mixed cropping

  • Growing of two Or more crops simultaneously intermingled without row arrangement is known as mixed-cropping 
  • It is a common practice in most of dryland tracts in India Seeds of different crops are mixed in certain proportion and are sown 
  • Ex: Sorghum, Bajra and cowpea are mixed and broadcasted in rainfed conditions ( with low rainfall situations) to avoid complete crop failures and with ascertaining the minimum yields

(ix) Dryland farming:
Is the practice of crop production entirely depending upon rainfall and the moisture conserved in the soil This is practiced in areas where annual rainfall is less than 750mm. The crops may face moisture stress frequently due to erratic distribution or failure of monsoon
(x) Rain fed farming
Crop production in areas where rainfall is more than 750mm (i.e assured rainfall areas). Here moisture stress will be minimum. Soil conservation is given more importance.


(i) Macro nutrients:- 
Based on the relative abundance in plants, viz.,Nitrogen (N); Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), Sulfur (S), Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg)
(ii) Micronutrients:

  • Their concentration is very small. They are also referred to as minor elements.
  • Iron (Fe); Zinc (Zn); Manganese (Mg),Copper (Cu),Boron (B), Chlorine (Cl) and Molybdenum (Mo).In some plants, other than the above, Sodium (Na), Cobalt (Co), Vanadium (Va), Nickel (Ni) and Silicon (Si) are considered as essential micronutrients

(iii) Nitrogen (N)

  • N is an essential constituent of proteins and is present in many other compounds of greatly physiological importance in plant metabolism
  • N is an integral part of chlorophyll, which is primary observer of light energy needed for photosynthesis. N also imparts vigorous vegetative growth and dark green colour to plants.

(iv) Phosphorus (P)

  • Is an essential part of the enzymes which help the crop to fix light energy.
  • It forms an integral part of nucleic acids, the carriers of genetic information, and is important in stimulating root growth is involved in processes which ensure carbon assimilation and the transportation of photo synthetic throughout the plant for growth and the storage of sugars and proteins.
  • The potassium ion is also important for water regulation and uptake.
  • Furthermore, the presence of potassium in sufficient amounts ensures resistance to frost, drought and certain diseases

(v) Magnesium
Occurs in chlorophyll and is also an activator of enzymes

(vi) Sulphur
Forms part of two essential amino adds which are among the many building blocks of protein. It is also found in vitamin B1 and in several important enzymes

(vii) Calcium
Is required for plant growth, cell division and enlargement. The growth of root and shoot tips and storage organs is also

(viii) Concentrated organic manures
(a) Oil cakes

  • There are many varieties of oil cakes which contains not only nitrogen but also some P and K along with large percentage of organic matter. These oil cakes are of two types.
    (i) Edible oil cakes- suitable for feeding cattle,
    (ii) Non-edible oil cakes-not suitable for feeding cattle.
  • Oil cakes are quick acting organic manure. Though they are insoluble in water, their nitrogen became quickly available to plants in about a week or in 10 days after application.

Integrated Nutrient Management (INM)
Judicious combination of organic, inorganic and bio fertilizers which replenishes the soil nutrients which are removed by the crops is referred as Integrated Nutrient Management system

Genetically modified crops (GM crops, or biotech crops)
Are plants, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques, which are then used in agriculture

Watershed Management
A watershed is an area of land and water bounded by a drainage divide within which the surface runoff collects and flows out of the watershed through a single outlet into a lager river (or) lake.


(i) Soil profile

  • The vertical section of the soil showing the various layers from the surface to the unaffected parent material is known as a soil profile. The various layers are known as horizons.
  • There are 5 master horizons in the soil profile. Not all soil profiles contain all 5 horizons; and so, soil profiles differ from one location to another.
  • A type of soil texture with good water holding capacity and drainage suitable for cultivation of variety of crops.

(ii) Soil structure
The arrangement and organization of primary and secondary particles in a soil mass is known as soil structure

(iii) Acid soils
Acid soils are characteristically low in pH (< 6.0), Predominance of H +and A13+ cause acidity resulting in deficiency of P, K, Ca, Mg, Mo and B.

(iv) Laterization:

  • The term laterite is derived from the word later meaning brick or tile and was originally applied to a group of high clay Indian soils found in Malabar hills of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • Laterization is the process that removes silica, instead of sesquioxides from the upper layers and thereby leaving sesquioxides to concentrate in the solum

(v) System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

  • Emerged in the 1980's as a synthesis of locally advantageous rice production- practices encountered in Madagascar by Fr Henri de Laulanie
  • A combination of several practices those include changes in nursery management, time of transplanting, water and weed management.
  • It emphasizes altering of certain agronomic practices of the conventional way of rice cultivation. All these new practices are together known as System of Rice Intensification (SRI). Principle- More with Less’
  • SRI is not a fixed package of technical specifications, but a system of production with four main components, viz., soil fertility management, planting method, weed control and water (irrigation) management.
  • Rice yield increased with less water and with reduction in chemical inputs

(vi) Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI)

  • An innovative set of agronomic practices that involves using less seeds, raising seeds in a nursery, and following new planting methods, with wider seed spacing, and better water and nutrient management to increase the cane yields significantly.
  • SSI methods can increase sugarcane yields by at least 20% with 30% less water and a 25% reduction in chemical inputs.
  • The SSI method of sugarcane cultivation was evolved from the principles of "More with Less' followed in SRI (System of Rice Intensification) and introduced in India by the WWF-ICRISAT collaborative project in 2009.

The document Shankar IAS: Summary of Agriculture | Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests) is a part of the UPSC Course Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests).
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FAQs on Shankar IAS: Summary of Agriculture - Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

1. How does cropping affect plant growth?
Ans. Cropping refers to the practice of cutting off the top portion of a plant to stimulate growth. It is commonly done to remove dead or damaged parts of the plant or to control the plant's height and shape. Cropping can improve plant growth by promoting the development of lateral branches, increasing light penetration to lower parts of the plant, and redirecting nutrients to the remaining healthy parts.
2. What are the benefits of cropping in agriculture?
Ans. Cropping in agriculture offers several benefits. Firstly, it can enhance the overall health and appearance of plants by removing diseased or damaged parts. Additionally, cropping can help maintain the desired shape and size of plants, making them more aesthetically pleasing. It also improves air circulation and light penetration, leading to better photosynthesis and overall plant growth.
3. When is the best time to crop plants?
Ans. The best time to crop plants depends on the specific plant species and its growth cycle. In general, it is recommended to crop plants during their active growing season, when they have sufficient energy reserves to recover from the pruning. For deciduous plants, cropping is often done during late winter or early spring before the new growth begins. However, it is essential to research and understand the specific requirements of each plant before cropping.
4. Can cropping be harmful to plants?
Ans. While cropping is generally beneficial for plants, improper or excessive pruning can harm them. Over-cropping, which involves removing too many branches or foliage, can weaken the plants and make them more susceptible to diseases and pests. It is crucial to follow proper pruning techniques, such as making clean cuts and not removing more than one-third of the plant's foliage at a time, to minimize the risk of harm.
5. Are there any specific tools or techniques for cropping plants effectively?
Ans. Yes, there are specific tools and techniques for effective cropping. Some commonly used tools include pruning shears, hedge trimmers, and loppers, depending on the size and type of plants being cropped. It is important to use sharp and clean tools to make precise cuts without causing unnecessary damage. Additionally, understanding the growth habits and requirements of different plants is crucial for using the appropriate cropping techniques, such as selective branch removal or heading back.
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