- Field practices are activities carried out on the field to facilitate proper growth and maximum yield of the various crops grown.
They include the following:
- Crop Rotation
- R0uting field practices
- Crop protection
- This is the growing of different types on the same piece of land in different seasons, in an orderly sequence.
Importance of Crop Rotation
- Maximizes use of nutrients and moisture.
- Breaks the life cycle of pests and disease agents.
- Maintains good soil structure.
- Reduces soil erosion due to adequate soil cover.
- Controls weeds that are specific to certain crops e.g. striga on cereals
- Improves soil fertility when legumes are included in crop rotation.
Factors Influencing Rotational Programme
- Growth habits and nutrient req uirements.
- Liability to soil erosion.
- Crops attacked by the same pests and diseases should not follow one another in the programme.
- Availability of capital and market for example beans or peas in legumes.
- This is the placement of materials such as banana leaves or polythene sheets on the ground next to the growing crop.
- These materials should not come into contact with the base of the crop as they may encourage pest attack.
Importance of Mulching
- Reduction of evaporation rate.
- Smothers weeds.
- Moderation of soil temperature.
- Reduction of speed of run offs.
Types of Mulching Materials
- Organic mulching materials such as;
- Sawdust, wood shavings, coffee pulps, rice husks,
- Dry grass, banana leaves, dry maize stalk, napier grass.
- Inorganic or synthetic materials commonly used are either black or transparent polythene sheets.
Advantages of Mulching
- Prevents water evaporation thus maintaining moisture in the soil for crop use.
- Acts as an insulator thus modifying the soil temperature.
- It helps to control soil erosion.
- It controls weeds by suppressing them.
- After decomposition organic mulch add nutrients to the soil thus improving its fertility.
- Humus produced after the decomposition of organic mulch improves soil structure and the water holding capacity of the soil.
Disadvantages of Mulching
- It is a fire risk.
- Provides a breeding ground as well as a hiding place for pests that finally may attack the crops.
- Traps the light showers of rainfall thus lowering the chances of rain drops reaching the soil.
- It is expensive to acquire, transport and apply.
Routine Field Practices
- Removal of excess, weak, damaged or diseased seedlings.
- Allows the remaining seedlings to get enough nutrients and moisture.
- It is aimed at obtaining optimum plant population.
- Filling the gaps so as to maintain proper plant population.
- Gaps occur as a result of failure of seeds to germinate or dying of seedlings.
- It should be done early enough for the seedlings to catch up with the other plants
- This is the removal and destruction of a diseased part of a plant or the whole plant.
- The destruction can be achieved through burning of the uprooted plant.
- Removal of extra unwanted parts of the plant.
Reasons for pruning are:
- To remove old, unproductive or diseased, damaged parts of the plant.
- To train plants to take a desirable shape for example formative pruning in tea.
- To control crop leave ratio hence avoiding overbearing.
- To control diseases and pests for example antestia bugs in coffee.
- To facilitate other operations such as spraying, picking and seeding.
- To reduce wastage of chemicals applied on the crop.
- To remove branches that interfere with traffic, telephone lines and view.
- Open up the plant to allow free air circulation and exposure of leaves to sunlight.
Note: Tools used are secateur, pruning saw and pruning knife.
- This is the placement of soil in form of a heap around the base of the plant.
- It is mostly carried out in tuber crops such as Irish and sweet potatoes to improve tuber formation.
- It is also carried out in groundnuts and maize.
- In groundnuts it promotes production of pods while in maize it provides support to prevent lodging.
- Weeds are plants growing where they are not wanted, that is a plant out of place.
- Such plants include blackjack, couch grass, thorn apple and Mcdonald’s eye.
- Such plants should be eradicated or controlled using recommended methods.
- Crop pests are living organisms that are harmful to the crops.
- They include; insects, nematodes, rodents, thrips and mites.
- They cause great damage to crops in the field and stored produce.
Control of Crop Diseases
- A disease is any alteration in the state of an organism and functions of a plant or its parts.
- Disease causing organisms are known as pathogens.
- They include fungi, viruses and bacteria.
- Diseases caused by fungi are referred to as fungal diseases while those caused by viruses and bacteria are referred to as viral and bacterial respectively.
- It is the gathering or of the farm produce after maturity.
Time of harvesting depends on:
- Stage of maturity of the crops.
- Use of the crop.
- Tastes and preferences of consumers.
- Weather conditions, hence liability to spoilage.
Methods of harvesting is determined by:
- Scale of farming for example large scale farming machines are used.
- Type of crop for example pyrethrum is harvested by hand.
- Uniformity in ripening of the crop for example wheat is harvested by use of combined harvester while coffee is harvested by hand.
- Uniformity in height of the crop and size of seed, fruits and flowers.
- Financial status of the farmer.
- Part of the plant to be harvested.
- These are the preparations carried out on crop produce before it gets to the consumer. They include;
- Sorting and grading.
Purpose of storage is to;
- Prevent spoilage
- Make the produce available for future use
- To await good market prices.
Requirements for proper store are:
- It should be clean.
- It should be well ventilated.
- It should be raised from the ground to prevent damp conditions.
- It should be dry.
- It should be strong to hold crop produce.
- It should be easy to clean.
- It should be vermin-proof.
- It should be secure from theft.
- It should be treated against pests such as weevils.
Types of Storage
- Traditional storage structures.
- Modern storage structures.
Preparation of the Store
- Cleaning the store.
- Dusting the store with appropriate chemicals.
- Clearing the vegetation around the store to keep off vermin.