Agricultural Food Scientist as a Career Opportunity!

Agricultural Science and technology is arising as an applied science industry. The primary objective of this domain is to impart professional and technical knowledge of chemical and biological principles so that they can be used in the fields of soils and fertilizers, pests, and control procedures, and crop and livestock production and management.

Agriculture Science and Technology is further divided into the following subcategories –

  1. Plant Pathology
  2. Entomology
  3. Horticulture & Forestry
  4. Entomology
  5. Environmental Sciences
  6. Genetics & Plant Breeding
  7. Dairy Technology and Management
  8. Poultry Farming
  9. Plant Biotechnology
  10. Food Science
  11. Agricultural Engineering
  12. Agri-business Management

Food Science is a multidisciplinary field that involves scientists with several diverse fields such as chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology, and engineering. They research to solve real-time problems associated with farming and food product development. Food and agricultural scientists’ jobs very significantly.

Agricultural Food Scientist

Agricultural Food Scientist is specialized in analyzing farming methods and food-producing procedures to increase safety, yield, production, and other factors related to farming and food production.

How does an Agricultural Food Scientist work?

Agricultural Food Scientists are responsible for conducting experiments and analyzing data about crops and food production methods. The main reason to conduct these experiments and analyze their result is to find new and innovative methods to increase agricultural production. Also, these findings will help scientists to improve the quality of the food supply. This work cannot be done by sitting in the labs, but they have to travel to farms and other specific sites to get samples to conduct research programs. Their work involves a lot of research and analysis.

To proceed with their research work and to get the result, they need to discuss these findings and prospective solutions to the community and policy-makers. Ample experience in the field of research and development can help Agricultural and Food Scientists to lead and coordinate an entire team of researchers.

Where Does an Agricultural Food Scientist Work?

Agricultural and Food Scientists spend most of their time at laboratories conducting research. Also, they work in offices in analyzing data and creating detailed reports using advanced computer software. These Agricultural and food scientists are sometimes required to perform fieldwork that requires them to travel to a farm or food processing plant. These trips comprise carefully following safety procedures, working in adverse weather conditions, or dealing with loud noises from heavy machinery.

Most agricultural food scientists perform the following as part of their scope of work:

  1. Work independently for methodological portions of the role
  2. Work collaboratively with other engineers and technicians on providing food science recommendations
  3. Should have experience in computational statistics, data mining, model building
  4. Should have a precise knowledge for solutions like biotechnology, to advanced predictive and prescriptive analytics
  5. Should be familiar with various practices including crop modeling, soil mapping, and weather modeling
  6. Optimize field practices
  7. Innovative new food products
  8. Have the knowledge to map soil, engage in yield modeling, and plant breeding
  9. Have a holistic approach for agriculture
  10. Have a broad scope of knowledge that includes crop and soil science, meteorology, crop physiology, and related fields like predictive modeling
  11. Explore animal genetics, nutrition, reproduction, diseases, growth, and development
  12. Develop new and better ways to process, package, and deliver food products
  13. Design and implement field experiments
  14. Conduct research and experiments to improve the quantity and quality of field crops and farm animals
  15. Communicate findings to colleagues, farmers, and the public
  16. Collect soil chemical and physical properties
  17. Collaborate with in-house personnel on several projects
  18. Capable to perform GxE analyses, and another environmental modeling
  19. Analyze soil composition as it relates to plant growth
  20. Advice farmers on how to lower animal death rates, handle the waste matter and increase production

Students who want to become Agricultural Food scientists should have a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and allied fields. They need to pursue this course from a recognized University. SGT University is a premium university recognized by UGC offers Undergraduate, postgraduate, and the doctorate program in agriculture under the faculty of Agricultural science.

Every university has some qualities that attract a student to get enrolled in that university. Here are some prominent reasons why students should take admission at SGT University and what are the main facilities we are providing to our students pursuing the agriculture program from our university:

  1. Well-established labs and hi-tech classrooms
  2. Village and the industrial attachment for 6 months
  3. Organization of National/ international seminars/ conferences/ workshops
  4. International and national tie-ups for academic and research guidance (APEDA- New Delhi, Harper Adams University, (UK), National Institute for Plant Biotechnology (New Delhi)
  5. In-house specialized agricultural production units
  6. Highly qualified and specialized faculty members from reputed institutions
  7. Hands-on Training Programs at KVKs/ Agro-industries
  8. Extensive Rural agriculture work experience program
  9. Exposure to ICAR institutions/ research organizations/ universities and industries
  10. Experiential Learning Program
  11. Coaching for JRF/MBA exams
  12. 40 acres of an experimental farm area
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A Technique to Grow Rice with Limited Water- Direct Seeded Rice (DSR)

Rice is the staple food of the country as well as the World’s population. In India, rice is the most important and widely grown food crop and occupies a pivotal place in Indian agriculture. Rice is a high energy source (6 to 7% protein) or high-calorie food. Rice is cultivated in India by various methods like TPR (Transplanted Puddled Rice), DSR (Direct Seeded Rice) but TPR is the traditional and conventional method of rice cultivation. 15th to 30th May is the best time for nursery preparation. Puddling is necessary for the creation of an impervious layer in the soil to prevent seepage and percolation losses. A huge amount of water is required for the preparation of a puddled bed.

The transplanting of rice seedlings requires at least 25 ha cm of water for the puddling process. The crop requires about 130 ± ha cm of irrigation in addition to suitable adoption of variety and to prevent the growth of weeds. The field is kept flooded up to two weeks after the transplanting of rice seedlings. The depth of water standing should be up to 10 cm. This method of cultivation increases excessive exploitation of groundwater and competition for freshwater is raising major concerns. DSR (Direct Seeded Rice) is an alternate technique for the cultivation of rice crops. DSR is also called “tar-water DSR”. It is very popular in the rainfed area because of its low input demand.

In DSR, direct seeding of drought-tolerant varieties into dry and undisturbed soil is done in June at the time of monsoon. Only narrow strips are opened by the openers to place fertilizer and seed in the soil. The lucky seed drill is the best machine for the seeding and application of pre-emergence herbicide (Pendimethalin @ 1 kg/ha) simultaneously. Farmers can also use the zero-till drill for the rice cultivation.

Direct seeded rice with the help of laser land leveler reduces the cost of production, improve soil health (population of soil micro-organisms), saves water, mature at the optimum time, increase yields, and income of the farmers. In DSR, only 8 to 10 kg seed rate per acre is required, which is less in comparison to the transplanting method.

Apart from pre-sowing irrigation, the first irrigation is applied at 20-25 DAS. By this method (DSR), farmers can save water ranging from 25% to 35%. It is estimated that if paddy is sown in April-May, ranging from 4500-5000 liters of water is required for the production of one kg of rice. If transplanting dates are advanced to mid-June, water requirements automatically reduced to 1500-2000 liters per kg of rice.

As a part of the Experiential Learning Program, students of B.Sc. (Hons.) Agriculture and M.Sc. Agriculture in Agronomy also practice this technique and demonstrate the benefits to the farmers.

Dr. Babli
Assistant Professor

Faculty of Agricultural Science
SGT University

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Precision Farming: Revolution in Agriculture

The next best thing in agriculture or the future of agriculture is called Precision Agriculture. With precision agriculture, farmers and soils work smart, not hard. The era of the internet, robotics, and data analysis has spawned a new incarnation of the agriculture sector, resulting in tremendous yields with less inputs. The wave of innovations started from Geo-mapping satellite developed by the US’s NASA to drones, which are frequently used to collect aerial data, moisture, temperature, and other weather data on the land are collected by sensors which provide an insight view of the health of the cultivable land. Advanced sensors and monitoring equipment have now enabled farmers to grab minute crop’s data continuously and, more precisely, thereby enabling farmers to make more strategic decisions to increase productivity, with a reduced harmful impact on the future environment.

As compared to U.S Precision Agriculture investments in India have generally lagged, but recently this era of technology is gaining momentum by using higher technology and smartphone penetration. In November 2017, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation teamed up with the government of Andhra Pradesh to work upon data Mining skills for Agriculture to make future farming progressive and smart. Here at SGT University, we guide students not only to the traditional methods of Agriculture but also emphasizes the current methods of Precision Agriculture for agriculture service-industry occupations. The curriculum has been designed to get a thorough knowledge of different subjects like soil science, soil fertility, plant pests, precision agriculture, remote sensing for Agriculture, and data analysis. The curriculum has all the elements including geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) applied to agricultural production or management activities that will help to prepare students for challenging employment opportunities with different hi-tech companies.

Dr. Sonia Goel
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Agricultural Science
SGT University

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Impact of Covid- 19 and Lockdown on Indian Agriculture

Doubling of the farmer’s income program initiated and steered by central and state governments will certainly be adversely affected due to the ill effects of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns. All agricultural activities were already feeling the burns of various factors, like unseasonal rainfall, its intensity, and distribution which impacted sowing, normal crop growth, diseases and pest spectrum, quantitative and qualitative yields, and ultimately remuneration received by the farmers. Other factors which were already impacting farming include deteriorating soil health, high crop intensity, imbalanced fertilizers use, depleting soil organic content, monoculturing, irrational use of weedicides and pesticides, uneconomical water use efficiency, depleting underground water table, unfavorable benefit-cost ratio, improper marketing management strategies, poor storage facilities at farmer’s level and at procuring agencies’ level, insufficient food processing facilities, technological gaps, diseases/ pest resistance due to underdose/ overdose usages of pesticides, lacks adaptation level of existing technologies, improper execution of Govt. policies and even region-specific faulty planning as well. Above all, the direct and indirect onslaught of Covid-19 and lockdowns aggravated the problems as if the existing problems farming community were not sufficient.

This instant jolt was given by COVID 19 to the farmers covering almost all the states, for harvesting and threshing of rabi crops, making reach them to procurement marketing venues. As the government tried to make some stop-gap arrangements for procuring grain-produce, wherein a set number of farmers would be present in the grain market at a given point of time to avoid crowding, maintaining the social distancing norms. To minimize shattering of the grains in standing crops, particularly wheat crop due to the fear of accidental fire in the standing crop by electrical sparking, machinery fire or smoker’s negligence, etc; the farmers were compelled to harvest and thresh the crops 2-5 days before actual ripening which affected the yields. It is a common knowledge that due to division and further divisions the landholding size in India has been reducing year on year basis and approximately 85% of the farmers fall in the category of small and marginal. Likewise for household units also the same fact is applied and they do not have much scope for permanent storage of the bulk farm produce.

This is also true relating to Covid-19 impacts that almost all the business activities are almost standing still, however the agricultural production system activities including grain production, milk, meat, fisheries, vegetables, horticultural produce cannot wait indefinitely. It is also a common knowledge that agriculture and allied sectors support directly or indirectly approximately 60% of the Indian population. Consequently, the whole lot is going to be affected by the onslaught of the dreaded virus impact.

It has become a fact that the unorganized casual labor force is majorly from a few Indian states where population growth rate is higher due to low literacy and other co-factors. Due to fear and uncertainty of the Covid-19 period and non-availability of casual jobs, as well as non-availability of permanent residence available for them at their workplace they are moving to their native place. This again has doubled and trebled their miseries as well as of that of farmers. All this is certainly going to heavily erode the Indian Economy in general and farmers in particular.

As of now, the feel of these burns looked temporary, however, its real impact will be realized if the Covid-19 and it’s offshoot lockdown are continued for a longer period. In general, the whole farming community at the national level will be badly impacted; however, its deep impact will be on the agriculturally progressive states, like Punjab and Haryana where major workforce (manpower) is from outside states. The most affected state should be Punjab, where the majority of youth have settled abroad and the inactive elderly population is left in rural Punjab. Due to their old age, they are not in the habit of doing field and menial jobs. Although mechanical field activities are relatively more in Punjab and Haryana, yet manual labor is a must for doing certain jobs. Even for handling the agricultural machinery the laborers, permanent or temporary, are required. As discussed earlier most of the labor force has returned to their native areas; therefore, this will certainly impact the agricultural activities, including total sown area, timely sowing and harvesting of crops, and others.

The ongoing situation will be a fall out on vegetable & fruit production system which is labor-intensive activity; and above all in the production of vegetables and fruits manual labor is a more practical proposition as compared to a mechanical one.

This will leave a cascading effect on the already slow-paced ‘crop diversification program’ run by state and central govt. This is, in particular, true of Indo Gangetic Plains (IGP) including Punjab, Haryana, and rice-wheat system growing areas where this necessary evil was to be broken down due to falling water tables in the said zones.
Crops other than rice and wheat are labor-intensive and as discussed earlier the labor deficient farming communities will be forced to revert back to the rice-wheat cropping system. On the other hand, the incentivized crop diversification program will receive a huge jolt. Under such a situation the farmers will be forced to leave their land unsown, at least a part of it, which will affect the total productivity of the states and nation as well.

Although it is very difficult to guess and pin-point that who will be impacted and in what way, yet the prevailing circumstances may impact different social strata in a number of ways. For instance, the landowners who presently do not work in the fields will start working for survival &sustainability. This will bring many sociological changes. Extravagancy will reduce inculcating the habits of saving, custom hiring patterns, land lease patterns, reduction in litigation, the dignity of labor, attitude towards cleanliness, unnecessary movements from one place to another, etc.

Although all the crops should be affected due to the impact of COVID -19, yet the most affected will be sugarcane, vegetable & horticultural crops, cotton & fresh-flower production. Sugarcane is a labor-intensive crop right from sowing till harvesting. In particular, Maharashtra will be most adversely affected by the want of laborers, who have migrated to their native places. This could also have a bearing on sugar prices. Other sugarcane growing states will also be affected due to migration and paucity of the casual laborer. Likewise, cotton-growing activities, being manual labor-intensive will also be adversely affected, especially picking cotton. In general, this will also leave an impact on production, productivity, and cotton prices.

Vegetables and horticultural crops require manual labourers from day one to the consumption point. Most of the vegetables and fruit crops are perishable and have a very short shelf-life; hence are required to be reached to the consumer in a time-bound manner. If manual labour is not timely available it brings a huge loss to the growers which directly impacts remuneration of the growers, and ultimately the consumer has to pay more price owing to demand-supply principle. Timely transportation of these commodities is another issue that spurts the prices of these commodities for the consumers of far-flung areas. Similarly, the quality of the commodities is badly affected due to such issues.

The most affected agri-activity is the fresh- flower growing industry which has fallen flat owing to the non-availability of the labour force as well as its demand in the local and international markets. Thus, the agriculture sector is going to see a sea change post-COVID-19 era which will redefine it and the consequences of which shall be far-reaching.

Dr. K. R. Dabur
Professor & Dean
Faculty of Agricultural Science
SGT University

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What is There for Farmers in 20 Lakh Crore Package announced by PM Narendra Modi?

Amid coronavirus pandemic, India is under lockdown for the last 2 months, the economy has gone down, every sector and industry is under distress, affecting the life of many migrant laborers. The agriculture sector is also suffering from crops standing in the fields ready for harvesting and negligible buyers in the market. The supply chain management for agricultural goods has been a challenge for the Indian government these days. To streamline the industry manufacturing, marketing, and to save the failing economy, the government has announced an Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package.

A significant amount of Rs. 1.63 lakh crore has been allocated to the agriculture and allied sector, as announced in the third installment of this package by Finance minister Nirmala to strengthen logistics, capacity building, and infrastructure (cold chains, storage centres, production and packaging yards). This will promote private agriculture establishments, start-ups (which are involved in procuring from farmers and supplying the products to the value addition chain with limited infrastructure facilities), and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). The package will strengthen the farm gate infrastructure and will increase farmers’ income and the affected logistic activities in agriculture will get a push forward.

Addressing the importance of livestock wealth of India (approximately 53 crore animals), animal husbandry/ dairy infrastructure development fund of worth Rs. 15,000 crores have been allotted to encourage private organizations to invest in the sector and to enhance the export of livestock products and cattle feed. The value addition chain will also be benefited from this initiative.

As lockdown conditions made the animal keepers unable to reach veterinary hospitals, the government has also ensured that complete vaccination is to be provided to all animal populations by Launching National Animal Disease Control Program for foot and mouth disease with an outlay of Rs. 13,343 crores. The complete vaccination of cattle, sheep, buffalo, pig, and goat population will be performed under this program.

A support package of Rs. 4000 crores have been allocated for herbal cultivation in India. The herbal cultivation will be under the supervision of the National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB). The board has already supported the cultivation of medicinal crops in 2.25 lakh hectares area and the vision is to bring up to 10 lakh ha more area which will help to generate 5000 crores income.

A sum of Rs. 20,000 crores are also announced for fishermen through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojna for marine and inland fisheries and aquaculture in continuation of the announcement made during budget session-2020-21. This will facilitate employment for approximately 55 lakh people, doubling India’s export to 1 lakh crore value.
Currently, India is importing Wax (for all purposes; medicinal and edible) that can be stopped, if the beekeeping is promoted in the country, additionally, the bees act as pollination agents, and will improve the productivity of agricultural crops. The job opportunities for rural women will also be increased with bee-farming. Therefore, Rs. 500 crore scheme is announced for infrastructure development related to bee-keeping. This will facilitate approximately 2 lakh bee farmers to increase their business in-country as well as increase the export of bee products.

On 12th May 2020, Honourable Prime Minister said that as per the current scenario, emphasis must be given on local/ indigenous products and quoted “VOCAL FOR LOCAL” to strengthen the Indian economy. In a view to promoting ‘Make in India’ campaign, Rs. 10,000 crore scheme for the formalization of micro food enterprises (MFE) has been allotted, these MFEs will be operated on a cluster-based approach so that the local products can have outreach and marketing of such products is possible at global level following global standards.

Essential Commodities Act has also been amended to enable better price realization for farmers. With this amendment food items such as cereals, edible oil, oilseeds, pulses, onion, and potato have been deregulated under the act. This will wave off the stock limit imposed on any produce. The limit will only be imposed under certain exceptional circumstances i.e. national calamities, famine, etc. Essential agriculture marketing reforms have been adopted to provide marketing choices to farmers. The legal framework to help farmers to fix their own price for products is in process. In the past two months, the government has already facilitated Rs. 73,300 crore support to farmers as minimum support price (MSP).

The lockdown resulted in wastage of many perishable agricultural produces, to resolve this problem, the ‘Operation Greens’ is extended to all fruits and vegetables (tomato, potato, onion and all horticultural produce which comes under perishable category). The need for farm-level support has also been addressed and it is decided that it will be given as a 50% subsidy on transportation and 50% for storage of such perishables.

Dr. Vinita Rajput
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences

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Bioefficacy of Insecticides Against Citrus Butterfly in Kinnow

Citrus (Family: Rutaceae) has originated from tropical and subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, particularly India and China. Northeast India is the native place of many citrus species. Citrus crops due to their unique diversity have greater adaptability for cultivation under tropical and subtropical conditions. India ranks third in the global citrus production after China and Nigeria. The genus citrus includes a large number of species and cultivars, among which, mandarin, sweet orange (mosambi, malta, or satgudi), lime and grapefruit are very popular. In citrus group plants, mandarin is the largest cultivated fruit in India and world due to its high vitamin C and juice content with pleasant aroma and flavor.

In India, mandarin is mostly grown in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana. In Haryana, the major citrus growing districts are Sirsa, Hisar, Bhiwani, Gurugram, and Fatehabad. Mandarin is grown in the area of 404 thousand hectares with a production of 4964 thousand tonnes in India (National Horticulture Board, 2019). Despite a significant increase in area and production of citrus, its cultivation is under the severe threat of abiotic and biotic stresses, and among them, the insect-pest problem is one of the major constraints. A number of insect-pests attack citrus plants in both the nurseries and orchards, inflicting heavy economic losses.

Among various pests attacking the citrus, the citrus caterpillar [Papilio demoleus Linnaeus (Papilionidae: Lepidoptera)] is a serious pest, which is difficult to kill. Different management strategies are followed to avoid potential threats of a lemon butterfly, which consists of cultural, mechanical, and biological control practices, but these are not easily applicable, labor-intensive, and not very effective in the heavy attack due to various factors. Pesticides provide an easier and quicker option to manage pests. So, new insecticide molecules, particularly which are less hazardous to the environment, need to be evaluated from time to time to identify effective insecticides against pests.

The maximum efficacy was observed in quinalphos 25EC with 52.43 and 85.34 percent reduction of the larval population followed by chlorpyriphos 20EC with 48.06 and 72.67 percent. Quinalphos shows the most effective reduction in larval population over all other insecticides, botanicals, and bio-pesticides tested in reducing the infestation of a citrus butterfly, the reason being its broad-spectrum contact and stomach action. Imidacloprid and thiamethoxam also showed better control due to their systemic action along with unique trans-laminar action. The least reduction of the larval population was found in nimbecidine 0.03%, i.e., 27.17 and 56.01 percent.

Dr. Meenakshi Devi
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Agricultural Science
SGT University

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World is Moving Towards Vegetable Gardening Amid Corona Virus Pandemic?

The Covid-19 crisis has trashed the global economy. The lockdown is reviving nature and teaching us a new lesson. The incidences of coronavirus infection from the vegetable & fruit market have raised concerns about purchasing vegetables from outside. People are trying to avoid buying these from big markets or mandis, rather they are shifting to local markets or local farmers, to ensure delivery of safe food. Kitchen gardening and terrace gardening may help in the supply of fresh vegetables with minimum inputs. Growing our own vegetables not only provides fresh supplies but also helps to calm the mind, keep ourselves busy, and to educate kids.

These lockdown timings are perfect to start home gardening. Here are some tips to start your own garden at roof/ backyard-

  1. Recycle household waste and prepare compost: The waste from the kitchen and household stuff have many nutrients hidden in them. Don’t just throw them in the dustbin to rot. It can be used to make compost which can be applied to the garden plants. Put the waste in any bin, sprinkle some water over it and cover the bin with a poly-cover or lid. Let it rest for 10-15 days and turn the mixture with the help of a pole/ spade. Again, keep it for 7-10 more days, after that open it and dry the rotten mixture in sunlight and your compost is ready to use in your kitchen garden. Perform the whole process on the roof or any open place to avoid the foul smell.
  2. Collect pots and fill with soil mixture: You can be very innovative in the selection of pots. Use old bottles, containers, broken pots, firm polybags, and sheets to design attractive pots. This will also help you to recycle the waste generated at home. Carve/ paint beautiful designs on your pots so that they can be used as decoration also.
  3. Start with seasonal vegetables and locally available seeds: The seeds of seasonal vegetables are easily available in the market at shops. If this lockdown period doesn’t allow you to go out, you can extract seeds from the vegetables used for cooking purposes. Seeds from tomato, muskmelon, papaya, lime, chilies, capsicum, cucumber (sometimes when it is ripe), , etc., can be easily extracted and used for sowing after proper washing. You can directly put the seeds into pots or prepare a separate nursery and transplant the seedlings in pots.
  4. Water every alternate day: The plants need water very second day when they are young and every week when they are grown up. When you visit your roof or garden, don’t forget to look upon them and apply water.
  5. Look for any pest and disease attack: Though garden plants are least affected by any pest and disease infection, still, you need to watch your garden on a daily basis. Any pest, if seen, can be manually picked and removed from the plant. Any diseased fruit or leaves should be removed from the plant. Pressure spray of water also helps to reduce the infection. If necessary, apply home-made insect repellent.
  6. Enjoy your harvest: Now when you are done with all the care and practices, its time to harvest the joyful fruit of your hard work. Harvest vegetables periodically or when needed. Share your happiness in your neighborhood to encourage people to have their very own garden.

For more information, stay connected to our blogsite and experience the green world.

Dr. Vinita Rajput
Assistant Professor (Horticulture)
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences

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It’s Time To Go & Grow Organic – Agriculture Science

Organic agriculture is a technique of cultivation in which there is minimum or negligible use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides and growth regulators or utilization of nutritive crop residues, organic manure (cow dung, farmyard manure, vermicompost, green manures, etc.) and biological control of pests is adopted as a replacement so that the fertility of the soil is maintained for a longer duration and ecological balance is maintained without polluting environment.

Read Also, Horticulture Will Be The Key Development Factor For Jammu

It is evident that population dynamics is increasing not only in India but in the whole world and the food crisis is going up every day. To meet the food demand farmers are injudiciously applying synthetic fertilizers and poisonous pesticides to obtain more yield from a unit area, which is negatively affecting the soil fertility status. Beside degrading soil, excessive use of chemicals in agricultural production has also jeopardized human health, and the environment, leading to the emergence of various diseases and disorders in humans and animals. All these problems can be resolved only by adopting organic cultivation. Before the 1960s, when in India, chemical fertilizers were not very much popular in agriculture, farmers were still producing sufficient food as they used to practice natural ways of farming. Instead of synthetic fertilizers, cow urine and animal origin manures were used, which helped in maintaining the soil health without any harmful effect on the environment. People living in that era had strong immunity which is now somewhat being lost due to change in crop production patterns. In the early 1960s, new high yielding varieties of wheat and rice were introduced, they had a very high demand for nutrients and water, to replenish the need of these varieties farmers started using fertilizers of chemical origin. As a result, today both humans and soil have lost their health and longevity. The average age of humans was above 100 years before, but now it has significantly reduced because of the unavailability of fresh and chemical-free foods. Off-season vegetables and fruits (grown artificially using growth regulators and fertilizers) satisfy people’s hunger but fail to provide the actual nutrition and immunity. Every farmer’s objective is to get higher yields from a unit area with the lowest input cost. But at the same time, we are forgetting the degrading soils, ecological balance, pollution, etc. The situation can be controlled only if realize the importance of organic agriculture promote its use. The government is also promoting organic production of food crops.

Benefits of organic agriculture

  • Organic agriculture improves soil quality and soil remains fertile for a longer duration.
  • Organic cultivation can be done at a comparatively lower cost as only farmyard manure, green manure, farm waste, crop residues, organic pesticides are used which are available at lower prices.
  • Organic cultivation increases the water holding capacity of soils.
  • Organic cultivation helps to check air, water, and soil pollution.
  • It reduces water evaporation from the soil surface which helps in increasing water level.
  • Organic cultivation maintains environmental and ecological balance.
  • Organic farming provides safe, residue-free and chemical-free foods.
  • It also provides an opportunity to export organic products to the international markets.
  • Organic agriculture can effectively manage kitchen waste and produce compost from it.
  • It is a way of living a safe and healthy life without harming the environment.

Components of organic farming

Organic cultivation of crops is possible through the adoption of environment-friendly practices which are known as components of organic farming. These are:

  1. Crop rotation- The cropping pattern is changed after a certain period of time on the same land. It helps in the management of soil fertility, weeds, diseases, and pest problems.
  2. Crop residue- The management of crop residue has become a problem in India as only 50% of the crop residues are used for animal feed, the remaining 50% is being burnt in the field itself. These residues can be used for nutrient recycling in crop fields with a proper application of friendly microorganisms.
  3. Organic manure- These are the nutrient-rich supplements derived from plants, animals or farm wastes. There are two types of organic manure on the basis of nutrient availability i.e. bulky organic manure (FYM, Compost, Green manure) and concentrated organic manure (oilcake, blood meal, bone meal, fishmeal, horn and hoof meal, etc.). FYM is a mixture of well-rotted animal dung, urine and farm waste.
  4. Waste- Industrial and municipal sewage waste can also be used as fertilizer supplements after proper treatment, removal of heavy metals and decomposition.
  5. Biofertilizers- The plants can only absorb those nutrients from the soil which present in available forms. Other complex forms are difficult to be taken up plant roots. Biofertilizers are a culture of one or more beneficial microorganisms that can facilitate nutrient availability by mobilizing nutrients their complex forms present in soils. They are ecofriendly and can increase 10-20% of yields. There are several species of microorganisms such as Azotobacter, Azospirillium, Mycorrhizae, Rhizobium, blue-green algae, etc. which are available in various formulations.
  6. Bio-pesticides- The natural products released from plants as secondary metabolites possessing anti-microbial and pest repellent qualities are known as bio-pesticides. These are basically phenols, terpenoids, and alkaloids. The bio-pesticides are largely appreciated throughout the world as they can be used to reduce chemical pesticide applications.
  7. Vermicompost-The organic manure produced by using earthworms is known as vermicompost. It is very rich in micro and macronutrients, vitamins, microflora and growth promotors. The soil and compost mixture is consumed by earthworms, digested inside, and the excreted material is used as manure.

Read Also, Sustainable Agriculture: A Key Factor in Doubling Farmers’ Income in Budget-2020

Being an agriculture-based economy, a lot of ways to go organic in agriculture are possible in India. Organic agriculture not only produces safe, chemical-free food but also helps in balancing ecology and environment. The cost of production is comparatively less with reduced risk of monitory losses. Though at once all the land can not be converted into organic slowly things need to be changed if we are hoping for a prosperous future.

Dr. Vinita Rajput
Assistant Professor (Horticulture)
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences

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