Saturday, July 20, 2024
General Agriculture

Permanent Crops Cultivation and Characteristics of Permanent Plants

Permanent crops are perennial trees, bushes or vine crops like citrus, apples, blueberries, nuts or grapes. The practice is associated with high cost, hence planning is done ahead of time. Perennial cropping is affected by planting time, soil, climatic, biotic, machinery and management factors.

Perennial cropping goal is therefore to produce food without damaging soils while reducing waste. The objectives include to reduce labour, accelerate farm work and the production of farm income.

This article also looks at the reasons for permanent farming system which include meeting up with the demand for farming land and the protection against bushfires.

Perennial plants are recognized for more conservative use of resources and a sustainable production on marginal lands.

However, some of the crops challenges are small seed size, lodging, very low yield of the plant and low production of hybrid varieties.

The system is plagued by a drop in water table, its inability to solve the food security problem and possibly a buildup of pest population.

Definition and Concept of Permanent Cultivation

Permanent Crops Cultivation and Characteristics of Permanent Plants

Permanent crops are perennial trees, bushes or vine crops like citrus, apples, blueberries, nuts or grapes. Although it represents a small segment in agriculture.

By definition, permanent crop is one produced from plants which last for many seasons, rather than being replanted after each harvest.

Cultivation on the other hand is an agricultural practice, involving the production of food by preparing the land to grow crops on a large scale (Prem, 2019).

Growing permanent crops is considered high in cost, hence planting permanent crops is considered to be a “high stakes” farming operation.

To be successful, permanent crop producers must minimize risk as much as possible to ensure successful crop establishment. As with most other high-risk farming operations, it is important to plan ahead.

Planning ahead not only improves the chances of successful permanent crops establishment, but also greatly reduces the amount of personal worrying after it has been planted.

Establishment depends on the complex interaction over planting time, soil, climatic, biotic, machinery and management factors.

Natural conditions (climate, relief, soil) are fundamental factors that determine the choice for the establishment of permanent crops with economically justified production

Permanent agriculture according to Prem (2019) is defined as an integrated and progressive production system inspired by natural ecosystems. It is also an ethical way of thinking and a philosophy. It is built around ‘the triple-win solutions’ which are taking care of the Earth, taking care of people and sharing resources fairly.

Permanent Crops

Permanent Crops Cultivation and Characteristics of Permanent Plants

Permanent crops are all fruit trees, all citrus fruit trees, all nut trees, all berry plantations, all vineyards, all olive trees and all other permanent crops used for human consumption like tea, coffee or carobs and for other purposes (e.g. nurseries, Christmas trees or plants for plaiting and weaving such as rattan, or bamboo) (Huffstetlerm, 2020).

Meaning and Objectives of a Permanent Farming System

Huffstetlerm (2020) stated that permanent farming system is adapted to ecological, social and economic conditions.

According to the author, drawing from the definition in details; means; Adapted to ecological conditions means: farming methods, which reduce erosion and iron tines soils;

Adapted to social conditions means: the farming methods are acceptable to the farmers and appreciated by the farmers;

Adapted to economic conditions means: the farmers can afford the new farming methods and can increase their income by using the new farming methods.

A Permanent Farming System is mechanized by the use of draft animals in order to:

Reduce labour burden,

Accelerate farm work, increase the farm area, production and income of the farmers

Objectives of Permanent Farming System

The broad objective of permanent farming system according to Prem (2019) is that the system helps in improve the living conditions of farmers.

In detail, it helps in:

The farmer having less and easier work,

The farmer having more time for themselves

The farmer having more and better food, and

Having more income being generated from farming activities and are used to meet their domestic functions etc.

Characteristics of Permanent Plants

Permanent Crops Cultivation and Characteristics of Permanent Plants

The characteristics of perennial plants actually differentiate them from annual plants and provide them with extra resources that, through selection, can be re-allocated to grain production: The report on Permanent Crops Production detailed the characteristics of permanent plants to include;

i. Better access to resources and a longer growing season

ii More conservative use of nutrients

Generally higher biomass production, and; Sustainable production on marginal lands.

Read Also : Translocation and Respiration in Plant Growth and Development

Challenges Faced by Permanent Crops

The production of perennial crops is faced by many challenges which ordinarily would discouraged or impeded the production of perennial crops include;

Seed size: Some of the crops have the life cycle of perennials and yet produce seeds that are small in size.

This acts as a challenge to farming perennial crops. It requires plenty of time as well as substantial investment for some good quantity to make a good yield.

Though at the moment, scientists are trying to increasing the seed size in order to increase yield which would enable perennials to be classified as sustainable agriculture.

Lodging: Another challenge faced by perennial crops, or rather in their development is the phenomenon of lodging.

Lodging happens due to crops falling over due to their height which is not supported by their weak stems. This more or less creates a mulching situation.

This falling over prevents seeds from producing grain. It makes harvesting difficult too, as the grain has to be ultimately removed from the ground.

Sustained yield: The yield from some of the perennial grains is very low and this makes it a problem. Having the quantity that would make a good yield is a challenge.

Again, some of the yields very substantially by dwindling downwards, thus producing low yield that cannot encourage production.

Hybridization: Hybridization is the process of crossing two varieties of crops to form hybrid that is a new breed.

Read Also : How to treat Ruminant Animal Diseases

The act of hybridizing is seen as a way out to many of the challenges facing perennial cropping. Sad to note that, this route may take too much time and have lot of genetic problems.

Advantages of Permanent Agriculture

Permanent crops are usually ligneous crops, that is trees or shrubs, that are occupying the soil and yielding harvests for several (usually more than five) consecutive years.

Importance of permanent crops as advanced by Prem (2019) includes the fact that they are;

Usually intended for human consumption

Generally yield a higher added value per hectare than annual crops.

They also play an important role in shaping the rural landscape (through orchards, vineyards and olive tree plantations) and;

Helping to balance agriculture within the environment.

Disadvantages of Permanent Agriculture

Permanent Crops Cultivation and Characteristics of Permanent Plants

The practice of perennial farming can result to some disadvantages. These disadvantages may manifest in the following ways:

May result to drop in watertables: Perennial agriculture may bring about a negative hydrological impact. Perennials might utilize more rainfall than annuals and this could cause reduced flow to rivers and a drop in water tables.

Cannot solve food security presently: Due to the small nature of the seeds of perennials and their low yield, perennials cannot solve the problem of food security currently.

In addition to their small seeds and low yield, these crops are still in the nascent development stage and will take a number of years before achieving the yields similar to annual crops.

Pest population might increase: Going by the practice of perennial agriculture, the fields are not left empty at all. If the field is not left for at least some period of time, insect and rodent population will increase.

The different measures like burning of debris and stubble may not be able to reduce the pest population since some of those pests live and survive underground where heat cannot reach.

Plant productivity is reduced over time: One of the challenges faced by perennial crops is the reduction in productivity, especially after a few years.

The soil’s organic matter is built up due to tillage absence and crops may have organic matter to the point that all of the soil’s phosphorus and nitrogen is used up.

Due to this, the plants produce will decline till equilibrium is attained between nutrient mineralization and organic matter build up. Or, farmers would have to add fertilizer to the soil.

Crop rotation is difficult: One of the disadvantages of perennial agriculture is that crop rotation might become more difficult.

This may be as a result of the fact that there are trees and shrubs in the plantation which would make it impossible to crop rotation to take place.

If rotation can take place at all, it would beat a slow rate. The slow rate of the crop rotation could lead to pathogen, pests and weeds buildup.

In summary, permanent crops are perennial trees, bushes or vine crops like citrus, apples, blueberries, nuts or grapes. The cost of planting perennial crops is high and this accounts for why planning is done ahead of time.

If not for the factors like planting time, soil, climatic, biotic, machinery and management factors that sometimes adversely affects the system and some of the crops challenges like small seed size, lodging, very low yield of the plant and low production of hybrid varieties the practice of planting perennial crops would have been a good one as it helps to reduce labour, accelerate farm work and the production of farm income amongst others.

Read Also : How to Grow Sugar Cane Minecraft in a Sugar Cane Farm Minecraft

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several 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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