NABARD Grade-A Exam : Notes on Agriculture & Rural Development | Precision Farming, System of Crop Intensification, Organic Farming

NABARD Grade-A Exam : Notes on Agriculture & Rural Development (with focus on Rural India)

The upcoming important exams are NABARD grade A and grade B, in which there is a section Agriculture & Rural Development (with a focus on Rural India) having high weightage of 40 marks. So, for the same, it becomes really important to have an in-depth knowledge of the various terminologies and practices involved in agriculture. Further its imperative to be aware of the present scenario of Indian Agriculture and the state of Rural Development in India. To help you with this, today, we are providing you with all necessary information related to the mentioned field which will help you to fetch some good marks.

Precision Farming
Precision agriculture is a management philosophy or approach to the farm and is not a definable prescriptive system. It identifies the critical factors where yield is limited by controllable factors and determines intrinsic spatial variability. It is essentially more precise farm management made possible by modern technology. The variations occurring in crop or soil properties within a field are noted, mapped and then management actions are taken as a consequence of continued assessment of the spatial variability within that field by adoption of site-specific management systems using remote sensing (RS), GPS, and geographical information system (GIS).
Precision Farming is used to enhance productivity in agriculture, prevent soil degradation in cultivable land, reduction of chemical use in crop production, efficient use of water resources and dissemination of modern farm practices to improve quality, quantity & reduced cost of production in agricultural crops.
In Precision agriculture, the field is broken into “management zones” also called ‘Grids’ based on soil pH, nutritional status, pest infestation, yield rates, and other factors that affect crop production.

Technologies used in Precision Agriculture
The generation of maps for crop and soil properties will measure spatial variability and provide the basis for controlling spatial variability. The data collection technologies are grid soil sampling, yield monitoring, RS and crop scouting. 
Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers 
Global Positioning System satellites broadcast signals that allow GPS receivers to compute their location. This information is provided in real time, meaning that continuous position information is provided while in motion. Having precise location information at any time allows soil and crop measurements to be mapped.
Yield monitoring and mapping 
In highly mechanized systems, grain yield monitors continuously measure and record the flow of grain in the clean-grain elevator of a combine. Yield information provides important feedback in determining the effects of managed inputs such as fertilizer amendments, seed, pesticides and cultural practices including tillage and irrigation.
Grid soil sampling and variable-rate fertilizer (VRT) application
Soil cores taken from random locations in the sampling area are combined and sent to a laboratory to be tested. Crop advisors make fertilizer application recommendations from the soil test information. Grid soil sampling uses the same principles of soil sampling but increases the intensity of sampling. The goal of grid soil sampling is to generate a map of nutrient requirement. 
Remote sensing  
Remotely-sensed data provide a tool for evaluating crop health. Plant stress related to moisture, nutrients, compaction, crop diseases and other plant health concerns are often easily detected in overhead images. These images allow mapping of crop, pest and soil properties for monitoring seasonally variable crop production, stress, weed infestation and extent within a field.
Geographic information systems (GIS) 
Geographic information systems (GIS) are Computer hardware and software that use feature attributes and location data to produce maps. An important function of an agricultural GIS is to store layers of information, such as yields, soil survey maps, remotely sensed data, crop scouting reports and soil nutrient levels. 

Agronomical perspective: Use agronomical practices by looking at specific requirements of crop
Technical perspective: allows efficient time management
Environmental perspective: eco-friendly practices in crop
Economical perspective: increases crop yield, quality and reduces cost of production by efficient use of farm inputs, labour, water etc.
The concept of "doing the right thing in the right place at the right time" has a strong intuitive appeal which gives farmers the ability to use all operations and crop inputs more effectively. More effective use of inputs results in greater crop yield and/or quality, without polluting the environment. Precision agriculture can address both economic and environmental issues that surround production agriculture today.

Drawbacks of precision farming
High cost: It has proven difficult to determine the cost benefits of precision agriculture management. At present, many of the technologies used are in their infancy, and pricing of equipment and services is hard to pin down.
Lack of technical expertise knowledge and technology: The success of precision agriculture depends largely on how well and how quickly the knowledge needed to guide the new technologies can be found
Not applicable or difficult/costly for small land holdings
Heterogeneity of cropping systems and market imperfections

System of Crop Intensification
The system of crop intensification method of growing food crops provides high yields, on limited land, despite a much smaller amount of seed for planting. The ‘seeding rate’ is the amount of seed needed to plant a particular area of land. The system of grain intensification allows a much lower seeding rate, approximately one-tenth the usual rate for a crop, with the same or higher yields.
This approach seeks not just to get more output from a given amount of inputs, a long-standing and universal goal but aims to achieve higher output with less use of or less expenditure on land, labour, capital, and water – all by making modifications in crop management practices. SCI practices enable farmers to mobilize biological processes and potentials that are present and available within crop plants and within the soil systems that support them
Generally speaking, the method has the same basic principles, with some variation for individual crops:
1. Plant seeds close together in a ‘nursery’, a bed of loose composted soil.
2. Transplant the seedlings into the field after 8 to 15 days of growth.
3. Make certain that the field soil is loose, drains well and is thoroughly amended with compost
4. Use a wide spacing of plants (typically 7.5 to 15 plants per square meter)
5. Weed the field carefully
6. Keep the soil moist, but not over watered; some methods let the field dry periodically between watering
7. Chemical fertilizer can be used in addition to compost to increase yields further.

Organic Farming
Organic farming “is a production system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic agriculture systems rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manure, legumes, green manure, off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, mineral bearing rocks, and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity, tilt, to supply plant nutrients, and to control insects, weeds, and other pests”.

Interest in organic agricultural methods is growing, especially in areas where the present modern farming system has unleashed many agro-ecological and environmental problems both on and off the farm, which threaten food security. The following are some examples:
a) Degradation of soil quality (structured & fertility)
b) Pollution of soil, water and food with pesticides and nitrates
c) Health effects on farmers, farm workers, farm families, rural communities (apart from concerns about the non-intended effects of pesticides on human beings in general, sound use of pesticides requires a technical knowledge which is often lacking in developing countries)
d) Resistance of pests to pesticides
e) Dependence on off-farm agricultural inputs which can increase poor farmers’ dependence on credit facilities (to purchase synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and seed), which may result in decreased local food security and self-reliance.

Crop production and health in organic farming systems is attained through a combination of structural factors and tactical management components to ensure products of sufficient quality and quantity for human and livestock consumption.
1. Diverse crop rotations
2. Soil fertility management
3. Weed control
4. Natural pest and disease control
5. Integrated nutrient management
a) Bulky organic manures
b) Recycling of organic wastes
c) Bio-fertilizers
d) Green Manuring

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