For millennia, humankind has been formulating and maintaining numerous techniques to preserve their agricultural production against pest infestation. But over the years, the boom in the population (As per the FAO, the world population is anticipated to achieve 9.1 billion by 2050), rapidly growing urbanisation, and aggressively progressing climate change have impacted agriculture massively. Not only has the cultivation land shrunk, but Global Warming is also causing reduced yield, drop-in food quality, and it also changes the ecology of weeds, pests, and diseases. Therefore, the need for effective crop management and protection has become necessary.
To put it simply, crop management is a collection of procedures used to cultivate, develop, and harvest crops. It begins with seed sowing, continues with seed upkeep during the growth and development stage, and concludes with crop harvest, storage, and distribution. Crop protection safeguards crops against pests, weeds, fungus, insects, and illnesses while assuring better cultivation. Here’s how weeds, insect attacks, bacterial diseases, etc., are affecting farming today.
Weeds are undesirable plants that thrive alongside crops. They steal the soil’s nutrients and compete with crops for sunshine, water, and other resources, causing the product’s development to suffer. It induces crop undernourishment, thereby lowering production. Fertilisers applied on weedy soil do not enhance yield because weeds absorb nitrogen more rapidly than crops. Conversely, weeds attract insects and disease-causing pests to the principal crop and even provide refuge for rodents. Weeds can be controlled, and greater yield can be attained by applying herbicides or weedicides to the soil. weeds can be eradicated satisfactorily from fields by hoeing, followed by appropriate use of pre-sowing weedicides in the stale seedbed method and post-sowing weedicide application.
- Insect Manifestation
Many people confuse between pesticide and insecticide. Pesticide is an umbrella term. These are chemicals that are employed to eliminate fungus, insects, disease-causing bacteria, snails, etc. Whereas insecticide, in particular, is a type of pesticide that targets and kills insects.
Insect attack on the cultivation causes significant crop damage and yield loss. If they remain unmonitored, historically, it has been proved that insects and pests can reduce crop yield by up to 50%. Therefore, adopting integrated pests and insect management systems, such as insecticides, can curb losses and ensure the quality of the grains and vegetables remain intact.
Insecticides are classified based on chemistry, toxicological action, and mode of penetration such as ingestion, fumigants, and contact poison. Since the medicines are made in concentrated doses, they should be applied as per the specifications and with precautions as recommended. Their use is highly regulated globally.
- Disease Control and Management
Pathogenic illnesses are a significant cause of yield reductions. However, dealing with these diseases can be challenging since the organisms that cause them, such as bacteria, mycoplasma-like organisms (MLO), fungus, viruses, and nematodes, are hard to trace with the naked eye. For a few bacterial and other infections, prevention is recommended over cure.
The fungus caused at various stages of plant growth can be treated with fungicide solutions to control its spread. However, for a few bacterial infections, prevention is better than cure. As a result, rather than regulating, the emphasis should be on illness prevention. Alternatively, seed treatment with insecticides is also popular for disinfecting them from seed-borne or soil-borne pathogenic organisms and storage insects. This helps in preventing seeds from rotting and seedling blights, improving germination, and controlling soil insects.
Furthermore, GIS (geographic information system)-based crop monitoring devices may also be used to observe diseased regions and determine infection levels. GIS integration in the agriculture industry is one of the game-changer trends. With valuable information shared by GIS machinery, farmers can save money, effort, and time if they know the sections that need pesticide application.
- Protection and Management Post Harvest
Once the crops have been harvested, they must be carefully preserved to eliminate or mitigate product loss. Yield losses are far more likely in the post-harvest phase than during cultivation. Common bugs, rodents, and humidity are all key contributors to the loss. As a result, taking concrete measures can help deter this loss. For instance, if the grains are fully washed and dried in the sunshine before storing them, the yield can be safeguarded from fungal development, primarily caused by moisture. Pests can also be eliminated by fumigating the crop with Aluminium Phosphide, a commonly used solution for grain storage protection, before packing and storage.
Being one of the major agriculture-focused economies globally, the Indian government has always invested heavily in agricultural research and education. Today, many Indian agrochemical companies such as Safex are focused on developing crop-friendly pesticides and fertilisers to increase the yield and reduce crop loss.
Safex is a leading name in the Indian agrochemical sector for setting up benchmarks in formulating and marketing pesticides and other agrochemicals. The company has recognised that apart from pest and fungal attacks, the overuse of pesticides also diminishes yield quality. Therefore, besides manufacturing various herbicides, weedicides, fungicides, insecticides, PGRs and bio-fertilisers, and fertilisers, Safex is also heavily invested in educating the farmers on the correct approach toward agrochemical application.