VEGETABLE FARMING PRACTICES IN INDIA
Vegetables are important for human consumption daily and hence the demand is exorbitant with the rising population. Vegetables have numerous benefits and are healthy for the overall growth and development of humans. Vegetables are grown in large scale in India for its own consumption and for export purposes.
There are many categories of vegetables and each vegetable has many varieties. Newer varieties are being developed constantly to create healthier and disease resistant cultivars. Vegetables can be used fresh, canned, frozen, dehydrated, or pickled and stored. Vegetables have high nutrition value and keep most diseases at bay.
Vegetables are available all year round except for some seasonal vegetables depending on the region they are cultivated. Vegetables once bought must be thoroughly washed to remove any chemicals such as pesticides that could be coated with. Organic vegetables have gained popularity for the reason that they are devoid of pesticides and grown naturally. Organic or not vegetables are necessary for daily consumption and therefore have an immense demand.
There are many ways to grow vegetables such as home gardening, market gardening, truck farming and vegetable forcing. Home gardening is done for own consumption and the vegetable types grown will be limited since not all vegetable crops can be grown at home. Herbs, leafy vegetables, spices, tomatoes, etc can easily be grown at home for daily requirements. If you have a terrace garden or a backyard garden a lot more options are available such as certain trees can be grown as well. Some of these options are banana, jackfruit, coconut, pumpkin, papaya, bean, cabbage, carrot, leek, onion, pea, pepper, radish, etc.
Market gardening produces assorted vegetables for the local markets. Truck gardens produce vegetables in large quantities for distant markets. Sometimes vegetables are grown out of their normal season under favorable conditions and are called vegetable forcing. Greenhouses, cold frames and hot beds are required to carry out this type of farming.
Vegetables require ideal soil type, climatic conditions, soil pH, fertilizer application, humidity, season and rainfall conditions met to be cultivated well. This requirement varies based on each vegetable crop. Soil type varies such as heavy black soils, light friable soils, clay soils, alluvial soils etc. Seasons are divided into Kharif, Rabi and Zaid. Kharif season is also called monsoon and lies between April – October. Crops grown in the Kharif season are Jowar, Rice, Millet, Maize, Soyabean, Turmeric, Groundnut, Cotton, Sugarcane, Bitter gourd, Linseed, Moong, Sesame, Toor dal, Black gram, and Cowpea.
Rabi season is one where crops are sown in winter and harvested in spring. Rabi season begins in October / November depending on the region. Rabi crops commonly grown are wheat, oats, barley, Alfaalfa, linseed, cumin, coriander, mustard, fennel, fenugreek, pea, chickpea, onion, tomato, and potato. Zaid season is the short season between Kharif and Rabi and lies between March – June. Some Zaid season crops are pumpkin, cucumber, musk melon, watermelon, and bitter gourd.
Climatic conditions greatly affect the growth of vegetables. Climatic conditions include temperature, moisture, wind, daylight and so on. Most vegetables grow well in suitable temperatures such as in the range of 15 – 30°C. Cool season crops grow well where the temperature does not exceed 20°C. Some such vegetables are artichoke, beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, garlic, leek, lettuce, onion, parsley, pea, potato, radish, spinach and turnip. Warm season vegetables are intolerant to frost such as bean, cucumber, eggplant, lima bean, okra, pepper, maize, sweet potato, watermelon, tomato etc. Rainfall is another important factor affecting crop growth and areas that have lesser annual rainfall than the requirement for the crop, irrigation methods will have to be adopted to compensate the lack of water requirement.
Plants grow well in light and light is the main source of energy for plants. Hence plants must be sown at the right time and right season to avail the necessary daylight requirements of the crops. Commercial production of crops requires large hectares of land for cultivation of crops. The land must be tilled and plowed to receive fine tilth conditions so that seeds can be planted appropriately. Soils generally contain nutrients and minerals but if certain soil types lack the minimum requirement for nutrients, then it must be compensated with additional nutrients and minerals. Addition of farm yard manure and organic compost greatly benefits the crop development. Propagation of vegetables is usually by seeds or in some cases by vegetative means such as cuttings and shoots. Sometimes crops are sown in nurseries in polythene bags to begin with ad then transplanted to the main field.
Some crops require the soil to be saline and sometimes salinity is not required. The normal pH range is anywhere between 5 – 7 with 5 being more saline and 7 being more neutral. Each crop requires a certain pH range to be met as well as soil type (light, heavy, black, clay etc). Fertility of a soil is very important for plant growth and to attain the right soil conditions soils must be tested before cultivation to compensate the lacking nutrients, minerals and other requirements. Soils must have good drainage in most cases as water logging is not tolerated by many crops.
Land preparation is another important aspect of vegetable farming and the seeds are sown at a certain depth in rows with certain spacing requirements. This is specific to each crop type and must be followed diligently. Weed management and pest control in crops ensures plants are disease, pest and weed free at all. Affected plants are burnt to protect other plants. Irrigation methods must be followed to ensure sufficient water is supplied to plants for growth of seeds, flowers, leaves etc. Cover crops are grown for soil protection and improvement purposes. Crop rotation and intercropping activities help manage weeds and pests as well provide better use of soil.
Fertilizer application depends on the type of crop being grown. Usually Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium are applied in a certain ratio with P and K being given as full doses and N being given twice in two half doses. The yield of crops depends on the farming practices being followed, the cultivar, climatic conditions etc. For more information on this, keep reading our website.