Saturday, May 25, 2024
Crops

Different Factors Affecting Permanent Crop Production

In this article therefore, you will read and study the general principles of permanent crop production. Some of the factors that influence crop production that you will deal with include: environmental, soil/edaphic and economic factors that you need to put into consideration before you embark on a particular crop production.

Crops are domesticated plants that we grow on our farms, orchards and gardens. These crops vary in their nutritional requirements, soil and weather needs; susceptibility to pests and diseases, etc. Similarly, the parts of the crop that meet man’s need equally vary.

What man needs from the crop may be the tuber, leaves, fruits or even the stem. Therefore, the cultivation and production of crops are based on principles which have inbuilt guidelines that meet the nature of each crop type.

In addition, pests and diseases constitute threat to your production efforts; they therefore need to be considered before you finally decide on what crop(s) you will produce on your farm, orchard or garden.

In this article, you will read about the major factors that influence farmers and agriculturists in the selection, cultivation and production of crops in any given environment.

Here you will also read about climatic factors, edaphic/soil, and economic variables which influence the nature of crops that are found in particular area and zone of the world.

For example, the crops you find in some parts of a country are different from those you find in certain areas. Similarly, crops grown in the tropics are different from those of the sub- tropics as the Mediterranean or the temperate regions of the world.

The Different Factors Affecting Permanent Crop Production

Different Factors Affecting Permanent Crop Production

1. Climatic Factors

The average weather conditions of a place over a period of thirty five to forty (35- 40) years is called climate. The major elements that make up the weather are: rainfall/precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, wind, sunlight and solar radiation.

The values of the above listed variables at any particular times constitute the weather of the place.

1a. Rainfall / Precipitation

The collection of water vapour (moisture) in the sky in the form of cloud leads to the formation of water droplets in the cloud. The cloud later releases its water droplets to the earth surface in the form of precipitation.

Collection of precipitations leads to rainfall. The total rainfall of any place is the total amount of precipitation that a place gets during a fiscal year of 365 days.

In other words, the rainfall may occur during only three of the twelve months of the year. These months may be: January to March or September to November or June to September.

Rainfall in pattern ‘d’, is evenly distributed throughout the fiscal year. Pattern ‘b’ on the other hand has a peak in August/September. Pattern ‘c’ has two peaks with a trough in August/September.

Pattern ‘e’ has equal distribution throughout the fiscal year but the total precipitation (rainfall) is much lower than ‘d’ that has similar distribution. Indeed, the total for pattern ‘e’ is the lowest.

Crops vary in their requirements for water at different stages of the crop growth and production. While some crops require a large amount of water, some may not withstand nor survive when the precipitation is high.

1b. Solar radiation – sunlight

The solar system is made up of the sun at the centre and satellite objects rotating round it. The sun which is at the centre is a very large object that is burning away every second.

The heat and light generated by the burning sun is emitted to the circling satellite objects round it. The earth which is the third object in the solar system and the second to the sun derives its light and heat energy from the sun.

The earth goes round the sun in an orbit that has the shape of an eclipse as illustrated in figure 1.3. The amount of heat and length of the day varies with the exact positions of the earth in its orbit round the sun.

When the orbit is closer to the sun, the amount of heat that the earth receives is higher while length of day is shorter than when the earth is at the distal end of the eclipse. Also, as the earth rotates on its own axis to give day and night, the orbiting of the earth round the sun gives rise to the seasons of the year– rainy and dry seasons (in the tropics); while in the sub-tropical areas, there are four seasons – summer, fall/autumn, winter and spring.

Similarly, the length of day varies with the seasons. The length of the day is determined by the time lag (in hours and minutes) between the sun rise in the east and when it sets in the west for a particular day.

Some crops are sensitive to day-length and the amount of heat that is available in the environment. Some crops require longer nights to initiate the process of flowering while some are day-length neutral.

Heavy clouds reduce the available light for light-reactions and photosynthesis. Therefore the amount of food that a particular crop can produce during its growing season is a function of the sunlight available for the crop, and other variables – as available nutrients, available soil-water, foliage, presence/absence of diseases.

Low temperatures lead to cold. Cold leads to frost. During frost, most crops die because of the roots inability to absorb nutrients that are contained in the solid (frozen) water.

Frost- bite does physical damage to exposed shoots and leaves. Nutrients pump in plants and crops gradually grind to a halt during very low temperatures. Similarly chemical reactions taking place within the crops are affected by temperatures.

1c. Temperature

The resultant effect of solar radiation on the earth’s surface is the temperature which is measured in degrees on Celsiusor Fahrenheitscale. During the day, when the rays of the sun alight on the direct surface of earth, the temperature is often higher than what it is in the night.

During the night, the sources of heat are: reflections, refractions and radiation/emissions from heated earthly bodies. Heat and temperature affect the rate of transpiration. Where available soil-water is not adequate, high rate of transpiration can lead to (temporary to permanent) wilting.

1d. Relative Humidity

Relative humidity is the measure of moisture present in the air (atmosphere) compared with the maximum moisture (saturation moisture) that the air can take at that particular temperature.

Relative humidity affects the assimilation, absorption, transportation and transpiration reactions taking place in crops. Most crops perform optimally when the relative humidity is low.

Disease causing organisms perform optimally when the relative humidity is high. Thus high relative humidity is not good for optimum crop performance.

1e. Winds

All crops and indeed all living things need air. Air in motion is called wind. The wind may be mild or strong. Strong winds as storms and cyclones cause damage to crops depending on the nature of the crop.

Tender shoot crops as rice, wheat, oats, and rye easily log (fall off) with the slightest storm. In plantation crops like rubber, banana, plantains, strong winds cause heavy damage.

Gentle wind (breeze) is good for crops as it encourages good transpiration

2. Pests and Diseases

Crops respond to other environmental variables that do not constitute climatic elements. These variables include pests and diseases.

2a. Pests

Pests are small animals that damage crops either on the field when growing or cause damage to crop products when they are in the store.

Pests range from small insects as bugs, butterflies, locusts, midges, aphids, caterpillars to medium to large animals as rats, rabbits, grass-cutters and antelopes.

Some underground worms attack crop roots e.g. nematodes. They all cause physical damage to crops – roots, shoots, leaves, flowers, tubers, stems and seeds/fruits.

2b. Diseases

Diseases are caused microscopic organisms in crops. Diseased crops are crops that cannot perform all the necessary biological functions at the optimal level of the crop.

Oftentimes, the crops exhibit symptoms of stress dysfunction due to the disease. In some cases, dysfunction may be due to non-availability of some necessary nutrients.

Causal Agents of Crop Diseases

Three major groups of organisms are responsible for crop diseases. These are: viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

(i) Viruses:They have no definite shape. They change forms and cause malfunction in crop nucleus, cytoplasm, protoplasm and tissues. This malfunctioning is through change in the original nature of the crop plant so affected.

They attack crop chromosomes and D.N.As to effect changes in their chemical nature to thus change the pathways and messages of life processes in the affected crop.

There are different types of viruses. All the types are very difficult to control because they constantly change form.

They are not capable of independent existence i.e. they cannot live on their own – i.e. they cannot perform basic biological activities by themselves, as they do not possess all the parts that perform these basic functions.

However, as they gain entrance into any living tissues, they take over all the biological functions and distort as many of the processes as possible.

They change the colour, shape and performance of the affected parts. Examples of virus attack on crops are: cassava mosaic virus (CMV), and rosettes in groundnuts.

(ii) Bacteria: These are living microorganisms that attack crops. Once they attack a crop, they rapidly multiply and make colonies on the crop parts so attacked. The parts so affected become damaged.

Read Also : Definitions, Categories and Importance of Crop Pest

Sometimes the damaged parts cannot perform their normal function. In very common cases, the resultant effect is the death of the crop parts so affected. Crop products affected by diseases are not acceptable to most buyers and consumers of crop products.

The bacteria can be divided with two major groups:

a) Aerobic – these need oxygen to perform

b) Anaerobic – they do not need oxygen to perform.

(iii) Fungi: Fungi cannot manufacture their food needs. They live on other plants albeit crops to perform their normal biological activities. They attack crops to kill the parts so affected in order to feed on the dead rotten parts or they feed directly from the nutrients that the crops require or feed on the food reserves of the crops.

They are of different types. They all thrive better when the relative humidity is very high. This is because the available moisture assists in the rapid decay of the affected parts e.g. black pod disease of cocoa.

Disorders may also be caused by lack of necessary nutrients in the soil.—such disorders may be called ‘nutritional diseases’

3. Edaphic / Soil Factors

Soil is the medium on which crops grow and maintain their existence – in other words, soil forms the home of crops. Since soil varies in its composition – component constituents, its nature and reactions, the crops that do well in the different types of the soil also vary.

All plants and indeed crops need food to grow. Crop food in the soil is not an elaborated food as you and I put on our dining tables.

Crops like other plants manufacture their food from simple chemical elements through the use of sunlight and other energy sources. Tissue analysis of crops reveal that crops need Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium Magnesium and Iron, Calcium, Sulphur in fairly large quantities.

On the other hand, some elements as zinc, molybdenum manganese, boron, are needed in small quantities are therefore called micro / trace elements in crop nutrition. Most of these elements are often present in the soil. However, they are not always available to the crops.

The availability (rate of release) to the crops depend on very many variables as: soil acidity, soil water, soil air, and other soil properties (soil physics) as texture, structure, porosity, soil-water-air mixture, etc. In the following sub-units, you will read about some of the above identified variables of the soil.

3a. Soil Fertility

A soil that contains large quantities of crop nutrients is said to be fertile. As mentioned earlier, a soil that is rich in macro and micro – elements in required quantities by the crops is a good soil for crop production.

The most crucial of these elements include: N, P, K, Fe, Mg, Mn, Mo. and Zn. In all, sixteen (16) chemical elements are needed for crop growth and development.

These Are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Sulphur, Magnesium, Boron, Manganese, Zinc, Iron, Molybdenum, Sodium, Copper, Chlorine, Aluminum, and Silicon.

Six (6) other elements are known to stimulate crop growth under certain conditions – these are: cobalt, arsenic, selenium, lead, lithium, and vanadium.

Carbon and additional oxygen are drawn from the air. Oxygen and hydrogen are supplied in water.

All the above elements can be present in the soil, the rate at which they are made available to the crops depend on the soil acidity.

3b. Soil Acidity

Soil acidity is the measure of hydroxyl ion concentration in the soil. When the concentration of hydrogen ions is higher than the hydroxyl ions, the soil is said to be acidic. When the concentrations of both the hydroxyl and hydrogen are the same, the soil is said to be neutral.

When the soil is acidic, some elements are easily released to the crops while some are tied up. A reversed condition occurs if the soil is alkaline. When the soil pH is 7, the soil is said to be neutral.

When the soil pH is less than 7, the soil is said to be acidic when the pH is higher than 7, the soil is said to be alkaline. Crop nutrition is optimal when the soil pH is neutral.

Acidic soils are treated with lime (crushed limestone (Ca C03)), burned lime (Ca0) or hydrated lime Ca (OH)2. The active element in all the cases is the calcium.

The higher the acidity level, the greater is the quantity of lime required to neutral the soil. Soil acidity can also be treated with organic manure.

3c. Soil Physical Characteristics

Soils are made of physical particles of rocks and minerals matter. The level of integration of the particles determines the nature of soil. The rock particles are classified into aggregates as small stones, sand, coarse particles and fine particles (silt and clay).

Similarly, the broken down organic matter can be classified into groups based on size. The organelle is the fine particle size usually called organic matter colloids. Since reactions take place at the surfaces of the particles, the available soil nutrients will depend on the particle surface area compared with the mass / volume of the particle concerned.

Soil particles come together to form soil aggregates of different shapes and forms. These aggregates determine the air-space and water spaces available in the soil. These latter conditions determine the suitability of the soil medium for crop adaptations.

For instance, porous soil has large air spaces and thus water spaces in the aggregates. Porous soil in turn allows free flow of water particles through the soil with little or nothing retained in the soil for crop use later.

This type of soil aggregate encourage leaching clayey soil on the other hand has very small air spaces and water in its aggregates. Water does not flow through it easily.

Besides, whatever water is available is held very tightly to the surface of the clay particles at the expense of the crops. Because of slow downward flow of water (percolation) this type of soil aggregate encourages heavy surface run-off – surface erosion.

Physical characteristics of the soil determine which types of soil are prone to flood, swamp, erosion, leaching, etc. These in turn determine what types of crops the soil can support.

4. The Nature of Crops

Crops vary in their needs for water, nutrients, sunshine and day length, and agronomic management strategies.

For example, water is very critical in the growth and production of sugar care, bananas, plantains, rubber and to some extent, oil palm and pawpaw. Whereas in the production of cotton, groundnut and beans (legumes in general), sunshine and day-length are the most critical.

Therefore, in the selection of what to grow, you must bear in mind the variables which encourage the crops to perform optimally. Unless, you are prepared to create a micro-climate or environment for the crops of your choice, you should as a matter of importance check through the list of crops that perform optimally in the (selected) environment where you intend to grow the crops.

For example, swamp rice requires pre-nursery and nursery operations in the production of the rice seedlings; upland rice does not require pre-nursery and nursery operations. Most tuber crops do not perform well in swamps or water logged areas.

Similarly, most cereals require heavy sunshine, moderate water / rainfall and well drained soils. The following two units will deal extensively on the nature and types of crops we grow in our environment.

5. Economic Factors

Besides the innate characteristics of the crops and the environmental factors as climate and soil, other variables that influence permanent crops production are the economic factors.

Economic factors include such variables as labour, supply of tools and materials, market forces as supply, demand and price.

6.Technical Factors

Supplies of inputs as seeds, seedlings, improved stock are considered very important in any production activity in agricultural enterprise.

Sources of energy for farm work include human beings (you and I), machines as: tractors, ploughs, small machines, motors, solar energy, wind energy, water energy, animal power (as bulls, work horses and donkeys), electrical energy, chemical power, etc.

The supply of the above forms of power in right quantities and qualities at the appropriate time are critical to successful farm operations. The commonest source of energy is the human power.

As at today in some parts of the world, the supply of human labour at the critical period of production is indeed a crucial issue. This is mostly because agricultural operations are limited in time.

At the critical periods, the available farm hands cannot go round the required activities of the period. Lack of necessary farm hands at the required time may lead to loss in the productivity of the crops so grown. Where relevant farm hands are inadequate, farmers are expected to augment with power from other sources.

Such other sources include animal power, mechanical power from machines as tractors and small engines. The supply of these is also inadequate. Where funds are available farmers are advised to own personal sources of mechanical energy or share with other farmers. Farmers are advised to source for funds that assist in the purchase of farm power.

7. Demand, Supply and Price (Market Forces)

You, as a farmer, must consider the demand for the crop / crop produce that you intend to produce on your farm. You must also consider the total demand for the cop / produce compared with the total supply of the produce in your immediate community.

This is necessary as the total demand and supply of the produce will eventually determine its market price. The price at which you sell your produce will determine your total turn- over in the enterprise. Your gain will determine if you will continue to be in business in future.

In summary, to embark on rewarding crop production activities, a farmer needs to consider the nature of the immediate environment. S/he also needs to consider the type of crop that will do well in the environment.

The environmental variables include the elements of weather, soil and edaphic factors on which the crops will derive their food and living. Besides all of the above, what will determine your success or failure as a farmer are the economic factors. A good farmer should be able to identify all the above discussed variables and relate them to crop choice appropriately if he/she wants to be in business.

Read Also : How To Reduce Waste At Home Properly

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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