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An Introduction to Agriculture and Agronomy

Agriculture helps to meet the basic needs of human and their civilization by providing food, clothing, shelters, medicine and recreation. Hence, agriculture is the most important enterprise in the world. It is a productive unit where the free gifts of nature namely land, light, air, temperature and rain water etc., are integrated into single primary unit indispensable for human beings. Secondary productive units namely animals including livestock, birds and insects, feed on these primary units and provide concentrated products such as meat, milk, wool, eggs, honey, silk and lac. Agriculture provides food, feed, fibre, fuel, furniture, raw materials and materials for and from factories; provides a free fare and fresh environment, abundant food for driving out famine; favours friendship by eliminating fights. Satisfactory agricultural production brings peace, prosperity, harmony, health and wealth to individuals of a nation by driving away distrust, discord and anarchy. It helps to elevate the community consisting of different castes and clauses, thus it leads to a better social, cultural, political and economical life. Agricultural development is multidirectional having galloping speed and rapid spread with respect to time and space. After green revolution, farmers started using improved cultural practices and agricultural inputs in intensive cropping systems with labourer intensive programmes to enhance the production potential per unit land, time and input. It provided suitable environment to all these improved genotypes to foster and manifest their yield potential in newer areas and seasons. Agriculture consists of growing plants and rearing animals in order to yield, produce and thus it helps to maintain a biological equilibrium in nature.

A. Terminology Agriculture is derived from Latin words Ager and Cultura. Ager means land or field and Cultura means cultivation. Therefore the term agriculture means cultivation of land. i.e., the science and art of producing crops and livestock for economic purposes. It is also referred as the science of producing crops and livestock from the natural resources of the earth. The primary aim of agriculture is to cause the land to produce more abundantly, and at the same time, to protect it from deterioration and misuse. It is synonymous with farming–the production of food, fodder and other industrial materials. B. Definitions Agriculture is defined in the Agriculture Act 1947, as including ‘horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, the use of land as grazing land, meadow

land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds, and the use of land for woodlands where that use ancillary to the farming of land for Agricultural purposes”. It is also defined as ‘purposeful work through which elements in nature are harnessed to produce plants and animals to meet the human needs. It is a biological production process, which depends on the growth and development of selected plants and animals within the local environment. C. Agriculture as art, science and business of crop production Agriculture is defined as the art, the science and the business of producing crops and the livestock for economic purposes. As an art, it embraces knowledge of the way to perform the operations of the farm in a skillful manner. The skill is categorized as; Physical skill: It involves the ability and capacity to carry out the operation in an efficient way for

to maximize the yield and profit. Area not available for cultivation : 161. There is a vast scope to increase irrigation potential by river projects and minor irrigation projects. food grain production increased almost four folds from about 50 million tones at independence to more than 220 million tones in 2005 through green revolution.. employing the knowledge of various sciences for production of food. Total geographical area : 328. such as (i) time and method of ploughing. hybrids in each crop.2% per annum. fibre and fuel. labour. Despite variation in the performance of individual crops and regions. (ii) selection of crop and cropping system to suit soil and climate. production is ultimately bound to consumption. But agriculture as a business aims at maximum net return through the management of land. 1. As a science : It utilizes all modern technologies developed on scientific principles such as crop improvement/breeding. In additional to the above. More than 60% of the Indian population (60 millions/1. India is blessed with more labourer availability. oil seed production increased 5 times (from 5 million tones to 25 million tones) since independence. which kept ahead of population growth at about 2.750 million ha. water and capital. sowing of seeds. high fertilizer responsive varieties. Through yellow revolution. milk production increased from 17 million tones at independence to 69 million tones (1997–98). nearly 23% of the national budget allocation goes to agriculture and allied agro-based cottage industries run on small scales.400 million ha.g.05 billion) depends or involved in agriculture and allied activities. Mental skill: The farmer is able to take a decision based on experience. economics etc. Area under cultivation : 143. In India. which favours growing crops round the year.e.300 million ha. feed.000 million ha. transgenic crop varieties resistant to pests and diseases. which demand intensification of cropping and allied activities in two dimensions i..750 million ha. sugarcane production from 57 million tones to 276 million . For example. Approximately 35% employment is generated from agriculture.300 million ha. Total reporting area : 304.0 million tones during the last five decades. AN INTRODUCTION TO AGRICULTURE AND AGRONOMY 3 In India.. Since agriculture is the primary sector. Area sown more than once : 36. animals etc. As the business : As long as agriculture is the way of life of the rural population. fish production rose from 0. India is endowed with tropical climate with abundant solar energy throughout the year. Through blue revolution. handling of farm implements. agriculture is commercialized to run as a business through mechanization. new crops and varieties developed by hybridization.75 million tones to nearly 5. In 8th five-year plan. herbicides to control weeds. crop production. Area under forest : 66. Similarly.1 SCOPE OF AGRICULTURE IN INDIA In India.. major allocation has been done in each five-year plan to agriculture. time and space dimension.848 million ha. out of which 75% is found in rural areas either directly or indirectly. the egg production increased from 2 billion at independence to 28 billion. population pressure is increasing while area under cultivation is static (as shown in the land utilization statistics given below) or even shrinking.7% per annum. crop protection. total food grain production maintained a growth of 2. Total cropped area : 179. Through white revolution. Nearly 40% of the net national product is from agricultural sector. (iii) adopting improved farm practices etc. water management. other sectors are dependent on agriculture. In recent years.e. use of bio-control agents to combat pest and diseases etc. fertilizer and pesticides application etc.

Maintenance of various types of livestock for direct energy (work energy).It deals with the production of various crops. Crop Management (i) Agronomy (ii) Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry (iii) Seed technology (iv) Agricultural Microbiology (v) Crop-Physiology (vi) Agricultural Engineering (vii) Environmental Sciences (viii) Agricultural Meteorology C. etc. spices. etc. etc. Forestry . India is the largest producer of fruits in the world. Fishery Science . Agriculture is the branch of science encompassing the applied aspects of basic sciences. all the seven branches. timber. a crop once in use in south was found that it had many uses now.Branch of agriculture deals with the production of flowers. agriculture development in India would be guided not only by the compulsion of improving food and nutritional security. etc. which includes food crops. Agriculture will face challenging situations on the ecological.tones. and also raw materials for industries. Home Science . e. Aeroponic (cultivation in air) and Hydroponic (cultivation in water). Animal Husbandry .It is for marine fish and inland fishes including shrimps and prawns. rearing. The aim is to have better food production and how to control the diseases. A. fibre crops. ornamental plants. maintained. Husbandry is common for both crop and animals..The animals being produced. The applied aspects of agricultural science consists of study of field crops and their management (Arviculture) including soil management. first three is grouped as for crop production group and next two for animal management and last two as allied agriculture branches. Crop Improvement (i) Plant breeding and genetics (ii) Bio-technology B. vegetables. Crop production . By following the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) and the liberalization process. Crop Protection (i) Agricultural Entomology (ii) Plant Pathology (iii) Nematology D. fruits. pathology. microbiology. It is aiming to produce modified tools to facilitate proper animal husbandry and crop production tools. entomology. Social Sciences (i) Agricultural Extension . Husbandry is for direct and indirect energy. The objective is to get maximum output by feeding. sustainability and profitability. implements and machinery in animal production. India is the second largest producer of milk and vegetables.Application and utilization of agricultural produces in a better manner. Agricultural Engineering . Horticulture . condiments (includes narcotic crops-opium.. agriculture is grouped in four major categories as.It is an important component for crop production and horticulture particularly to provide tools and implements. Geoponic (Cultivation in earth-soil). 1. global climate. soil science. etc. which has medicinal value) and beverages. but also by the concerns for environmental protection. This arrangement is called geometry.. etc. economic equity.It deals with production of large scale cultivation of perennial trees for supplying wood. In future.2 BRANCHES OF AGRICULTURE Agriculture has 3 main spheres viz. rubber. Broadly in practice. It includes agronomy. globalization of markets would call for competitiveness and efficiency of agricultural production. On integration. fodder crops. cotton production from 3 million bales to 14 million bales which shows our sign of progress. sugar. oil seeds. The arrangement of crops is done to get 4 A TEXTBOOK OF AGRONOMY minimum requirement of light or air. energy and employment fronts in the years to come. When utilization is enhanced production is also enhanced.g.

(ii) Agricultural Economics Allied disciplines (i) Agricultural Statistics (ii) English and Tamil (iii) Mathematics (iv) Bio-Chemistry etc. men created indigenous systems of irrigation especially in semi-arid areas and regions of periodic rainfall. As the Middle Ages wanted increasing communications. However. Shifting Cultivation A primitive form of agriculture in which people working with the crudest of tools. This is also known as Assartage system (cultivating crops till the land is completely worn-out) contrary . Women by their intrinsic insight first observed that plants come up from seeds. fishing and food gathering. agriculture came into being. the years leading to a new type of large scale agriculture. commercial agricultural revolution. scythe and plough-developed slowly over the centuries and each innovation caused profound changes in human life. Women were the pioneers for cultivating useful plants from the wild flora. cut down a part of the forest. They dug out edible roots and rhizomes and buried the small ones for subsequent harvests. after the late 18th century. Early agricultural implements-digging stick. From early times too. Farming was intimately associated with landholding and therefore with political organization. The era of mechanized agriculture began with the invention of such farm machines as the reaper. burnt the underneath growth and started new garden sites. 1. Modern science has also revolutionized food processing. notably grains such as wheat. All over the world. encouraged settlement of stable farm communities. Breeding programmes have developed highly specialized animal. some of which grew into a town or city in various parts of the world. they shifted to a new site. Men concentrated on hunting and gathering (Paleolithic and Neolithic periods) during that time. Growth of large estates involved the use of slaves and bound or semi-free labourers.3. A. agricultural colleges and government agencies attempt to increase output by disseminating knowledge of improved agricultural practices through the release of new plant and animal types and by continuous intensive research into basic and applied scientific principles relating to agricultural production and economics. some groups still pursue this simple way of life and others have continued as roving herdsmen. plant and poultry varieties thus increasing production efficiency greatly. To this day. Exploration and intercontinental trade as well as scientific investigations led to the development of agricultural knowledge of various crops and the exchange of mechanical devices such as the sugar mill and Eli Whitney’s cotton gin helped to support the system of large plantations based on a single crop.000 years old. thresher. 1. After few years. Cultivation of crops. as various groups of men undertook deliberate cultivation of wild plants and domestication of wild animals. rice. swelled the population of towns and cities and increasingly forced agriculture into greater integration with general economic and financial patterns. The industrial revolution.3 DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENTIFIC AGRICULTURE Early man depended on hunting.e. They used animal meat as main food and their skin for clothing. hoe. cultivator.. which continued to appear over. when these plots lost their fertility or became heavily infested with weeds or soil-borne pests. combine harvesters and tractors.1 History of Agriculture Excavations. the commercial revolution and the steady rise of cities in Western Europe tended to turn agriculture away from subsistence farming towards the growing of crops for sale AN INTRODUCTION TO AGRICULTURE AND AGRONOMY 5 outside the community i. legends and remote sensing tests reveal that agriculture is 10. barley and millets.

irrigation. apiary. Laboratories. D. shifting cultivation existed in different states. literatures were introduced. New media. marketing. Mixed Farming It is the farming comprising of crop and animal components. and audio-visual aids were developed to disseminate new research findings and information to the rural masses. C. however the tools. exporting and importing are strengthening. which includes cultivation. agriculture is considered as a way of life based on the principle of “Grow it and eat it” instead of growing crops on a commercial basis. mechanical. a lot of developments on hydrological. research stations. research centres. . Governments are apportioning a greater share of national budget for agricultural development. introduction of exotic crops and animals. During 19th century. Policies for preserving. crops and cropping methods were primitive. podu in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Subsistence Farming Advanced form of primitive agriculture i. pasture management. Hence. rearing of milch animals. fishery. gathering and hunting. kumari in Western Ghats. bullocks. poultry. E. Now. journals. genetical and technological aspects of agriculture are in progress. sericulture. Advanced Farming Advanced farming practices includes selection of crops and varieties. Scientific Agriculture (19th Century) During 18th century. research and development (R&D) in fundamental and basic sciences were brought under applied aspects of agriculture. G. rearing of birds by stall feeding etc. seed selection. programming and execution are in progress. use of animal and crop refuse as manures. 6 A TEXTBOOK OF AGRONOMY B. In India. Small and marginal farmers are being supplied with agricultural inputs on subsidy. Subsidiary Farming Rudimentary system of settled farming. walra in south east Rajasthan. It is a stage changing from food gathering to food growing. consuming. sheep and goat for wool and meat. Agriculture took the shape of a teaching the fallow system. F. use of farm implements in agriculture etc. organic recycling. it is referred as raising the crops only for family needs. farms. pricing. institutes for research. piggery. Fallow system means land is allowed for a resting period without any crop. Books. Field crop-grass husbandry (same field was used both for cropping and later grazing) was common. distributing. green manuring with legumes. teaching and extension (training and demonstration) were developed. with different names as jhum cultivation in Assam. penda bewar in Madhya Pradesh and slash and burn in Bihar. plantation cropping etc. crop rotation. popular and scientific articles. processing. Agro-based small scale industries and crafts are fast developing. modern agriculture was started with crop sequence. Need based agricultural planning. Present Day Agriculture (21st Century) Today agriculture is not merely production oriented but is becoming a business consisting of various enterprises like livestock (dairy). chemical. People in groups started settling down near a stream or river as permanent village sites and started cultivating in the same land more continuously..