Crop Production, as the population increased, the food supply was not always sufficiently stable or plentiful to supply his needs. This probably led to the practice of crop production. Therefore, crop production began at least nine thousand (9000) years ago when domestication of plants became essential to supplement natural supplies in certain localities.
The art of crop production is older than civilization, and its essential
features have remained almost unchanged since the dawn of history.
Crop production is an intricate enterprise that requires vast knowledge about the Agronomy, environmental interactions, and the application of available technology to achieve food production. Which is exactly what farming in Nigeria needs to revolutionalize food production.
CROP ZONES IN NIGERIA
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers (soil horizons) that are primarily composed of minerals, mixed with at least some organic matter, which differs from their parent materials in their texture, structure, consistency, color, chemical, biological and other characteristics. It is the unconsolidated or loose covering of fine rock particles that covers the surface of the earth.
A soil survey of the land area should be conducted. Soil survey reports includes:
Description of soil, topography, climate.
Soil classification along with the base map & soil profile characteristics.
The nutrient level of the soil. The soil survey report is prepared on the
basis of soil characteristics such as soil structure, soil texture, soil types,
etc. The soil survey report will help in deciding the suitability of the area for agricultural and non-agricultural uses; the
type of crop production suitable for; land cultivation principle to adopt; and
the nutrient level in the area. This information will help when deciding on the
use of manure and fertilizer and the application rates.
Preparing the Land
This is one of the foremost operations that
are carried out on the farmland in preparation for cropping. Land preparation
(also called tillage or cultivation) and crop establishment go together since
land preparation influences the ability of the crop to emerge and produce a
good, uniform crop stand. For successful farming in Nigeria’s experience, this
step is very crucial. As a major pre-requisite for a good yield;
Land preparation has changed from a manual to a power-assisted activity over the centuries, depending on the availability of different energy sources. Today tractors provide a major power source for tillage that allows many different
variations. Manual and animal-assisted tillage is still practiced though.
Various activities are associated with land preparation to pave way for
planting on the field. The kind of operation to adopt depends on the vegetation present on the field. This includes tree felling, stumping, plowing, harrowing, ridging, etc.
· Felling of trees: This involves
removing the vegetation and clearing the farm site. It is usually done using a
bulldozer, chain saw, etc.
· Stumping: The removal of perennial roots and tree stumps present in the soil.
· Ploughing: The primary purpose of plowing is to turn over the upper layer of the soil, bringing fresh nutrients to the surface, while burying weeds, the remains of previous crops, and both crop and weed seeds, allowing them to break down. It also aerates the soil, allows it to hold moisture better and provides a seed-free medium for planting an alternate crop. It can be carried out using manually with a hoe or a plow.
· Harrowing: It is often carried out on fields to follow the rough finish left by plowing operations. The purpose of this harrowing is generally to break up clods (lumps of soil) and to provide a finer finish, a good tilth or soil structure that is suitable for seedbed use. A mounted harrower is used for this purpose.
· Ridging: This involves making ridges for
planting. Animal drawn ridge or tractor driven can be used to achieve ridge
· Planting: The act of sowing the desired seeds on a prepared field. There are different fabricated machinery that could be used to achieve this, depending on the type of crop (planter).
These are the various practices followed in
farming in Nigeria and elsewhere that are aimed at ensuring the crops are maintained
at optimum production requirements to maximize production. This include:
Mulching: This involves the use of either plant residue or mulching material, to cover the soil in a bid to prevent excessive moisture loss; or to reduce the effect of high temperature on germinating seedlings, plant root, etc. This practice is crop-specific.
This allows crops to be grown during the off-season period (dry seasons) when rainfall is not regular or not available. Water is channeled from available sources (lake, rivers, stream, dam, borehole, etc.) to the crops to meet its optimum requirements.
management: Weeds can be controlled both mechanically or chemically or
by a combination of both depending on the crop. Often weeds growing on a fallow plot can be controlled by being plowed under. Plowing prior to cropping may also serve to kill the weeds present. Tillage between rows of growing crops can be an important method of weed control.
Staking provides physical support so that plants don’t break under the strain
of fruit or inclement weather. Staking enables better airflow through
plants, which results in less internal moisture that can result in disease. Crops like tomato, yam requires staking.
is a horticultural practice involving selective removal of parts of a plant
such as branches. It entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non – productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plant. It only applies so certain crops and fruits
Pesticide based approach such as fungicide, insecticide, fungicide, etc. Biological pest control approach: such as the use of trap crops cover crops. Biotechnology-based approach: such as plant breeding and genetic modification
6. Disease management:
is the practice of minimizing disease in crops to increase
the quality or quantity of harvest yield. It involves making conscious
decisions related to numerous agronomic factors over which control can be
exercised. Plant diseases are caused by microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes. Various methods used to control pest includes:
Developing new crop variety, Crop rotation, rouging.
7. Pest management:
Pests are organisms that attack crops at different stages of growth, which
often have adverse consequences on the productivity of the crop, and reduced output realizable from the farm. There is a different approach to pest management which include: Read Here