Madhu Patial*1, K.K.Pramanick1 and Anjana Thakur2

1ICAR-IARI, Regional Station, Shimla (H.P)

2KVK, Bara, CSKHPKV, Palampur (H.P)

Agriculture has been the backbone and major occupation of human since time immemorial. It has also seen much advancement over the years. In India, with the commencement of the Green Revolution in 1960s, agricultural production system has achieved remarkable improvement. This has been possible with the adoption of high-yielding varieties, chemical inputs and mechanization. However, there are many agricultural areas where still traditional technologies are being adopted. Modern agricultural practices like improved seed along-with use of mechanized equipment for different farm operations like irrigation, tilling and harvesting has advances a lot and helps in achieving higher gains. There are a number of components that have been introduced in agriculture in recent years. Using the latest recommended agricultural practices, tools and techniques, one can yield huge returns. Adopting underneath practices farmers can increase their farm yield.


· Seed: Seed is the cheapest input in crop production which has an important role in the production of agronomic and horticultural crops. A good quality seed gives high return per unit area and can contribute about 20-25% increase in yield. Farmers should use certified seed of a crop with maximum varietal purity.

· Improve Soil: To increase crop yield, start from the ground up. Testing soil to determine the cause of declining crop yield is the first step toward finding the source of the issue—whether it’s disease, lack of nutrients, or unproductive soil. Then the soil can be treated with the appropriate organic product needed to solve the problem, without the use of synthetic chemicals which can harm the environment (and provide only a temporary solution).

· Sowing dates: Sowing dates plays very important role in farming. A suitable environment will lead to proper seed germination. After germinating for the proper growth of the plants they need favorable environment conditions like humidity, temperature, rain, sunshine hours etc. So proper sowing time is very important. Sometimes we can control pest population and disease infestation by just changing in sowing dates, for example, early sowing in sorghum is advisable to reduce the infestation of sorghum shoot fly and early sowing of mustard for the management of aphid. Similarly, rice blast can be managed by changing sowing dates from June/July to September. 

· Farm mechanization: Use of different power sources and improved farm tools and equipment to reduce the drudgery of the human and draught animal is known as agricultural mechanization. Farm mechanization enhances the cropping intensity, precision and timelines, reduce wastage of farm produce during harvesting and maintain quality of harvested crop. The effective mechanization contributes to increase production in two major ways: firstly, the timeliness of operation and secondly the good quality of work.

· Conservation agriculture: FAO has described conservation agriculture as a concept for “resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment”. The process like no-till or minimum tillage practices are the principle of conservation agriculture that causes minimal mechanical soil disturbance.

·  Manures and fertilizers: Due to unfavorable environmental conditions and intensive cultivation, the soils lose their nutrients and hence reduce the crop yield. Hence, one can increase the productivity of the crops by adopting different fertilization techniques. Fertilization is the technique of enriching the soil with nutrient and making it more beneficial for the crops. Proper use of manure as a fertilizer minimizes nutrient pollution to water resources and helps build healthy soils. So, farmer should use recommended dose of fertilizer. Apart from chemical fertilizers, biofertilizers which are products of beneficial microorganisms can be used to increase agricultural production. Biofertilizers can fix atmospheric nitrogen for plant use and can mobilize unavailable phosphorous which can be used by plants. Living microorganisms are used in the preparation of Bio-fertilizers.

· Water management: In India, rainfall is uncertain causing floods and droughts alternately. Therefore, artificial water supply through irrigation and the removal of excess water through drainage are imperative as both shortage and excess  of water affect the growth and development of the plants, yields and quality of produce. Irrigation scheduling is the process by which an irrigator determines the timing and quantity of water to be applied to the crop. The challenge is to estimate crop water requirements for different growth stages and climatic conditions. Modern irrigation interventions can help farmers of small holdings and farms to save water by 30%. With the use of advanced technologies like drip irrigation up to 60% of water can be saved.  

·  Weed Management: Weeds, in general, precede crops on farming lands and are major yield reducing factors. Weeds compete with crops for the same resources, basically water, nutrients, light and carbon dioxide. Furthermore, they are alternate hosts for crop pests and pathogens. These are a major constraint to increased farmers’ productivity, particularly in developing countries where weed control claims 20 to 50 % of farmers’ time. An integrated weed management approach combines the use of complementary weed control methods such as hand weeding, herbicide application, land fallowing, and biological control is very effective for weed management.

· Crop rotation: Crop rotation refers to the practice of growing different types of crops in the same area over a sequence of seasons. Crop rotation helps to maintain soil structure and nutrient levels and prevents soil borne pests. When a single crop is planted repeatedly in the same soil, insects and diseases that attack that crop are allowed to build up to unmanageable levels, greatly reducing the farmer’s harvest. The most basic aspect of crop rotation is that we should never plant the same crop in the same place twice.

· Insect-pest Management: There is a periodical explosion of insects and pests that damages the crops in great quantity. All these are treated as disease transmitters in different parts of the world and have made agriculture less productive. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of biological, cultural and chemical practices to control insect pests. It seeks to use natural predators or parasites to control pests, using selective pesticides for backup only when pests are unable to be controlled by natural means. A farmer should reduce crop losses due to pests through the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (resistant crop varieties, rational use of pesticides, biocontrol and better cultural practices) without harmful side effects.

· Food processing: Food processing industry is of enormous significance for India's development because of the vital linkages and synergies it promotes between the two pillars of our economy i.e. industry and agriculture. Food Processing includes process under which any raw product of agriculture is transformed through a process in such a way that its original physical properties undergo a change and the transformed product has commercial value and is suitable for human and animal consumption. Since the post-harvest losses of selected fruits and vegetables are about 25 to 30 per cent in our country, so food processing industry could make crucial contribution in the nation's food security. Food processing also includes the process of value addition to produce products through methods such as preservation, addition of food additives, drying etc. with a view to preserve food substances in an effective manner and enhance their shelf life and quality.

· Crop insurance:  Crop insurance is a tool that allows farmers to manage their yield and price risks. One of the most important benefit of buying agriculture insurance is that farmers get peace of mind and can take risk for improving their crop yield by adopting different technologies. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister's Crop Insurance Scheme) was launched by Prime Minister of India Sh.Narendra Modi on 13 February 2016. It envisages a uniform premium of only 2 per cent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 per cent for Rabi crops.

· Under-utilized crops: The crops, which are neither grown commercially on large scale nor traded widely are termed as underutilized crops. These crops are cultivated, traded, and consumed locally and have many advantages like easier to grow, hardy nature and producing a crop even under adverse soil and climatic conditions. So, exploitation of underutilized horticultural crops can become a solution to the social problem of health and nutrition insecurity, poverty, and unemployment. The consumption of underutilized fruit crops can provide nutrition to the poor and needy people as underutilized fruits, nuts, and vegetables are a rich of source of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, energy, vitamins—A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, C, folic acid, and minerals—Ca, P, Fe, and dietary fiber.

·  Genetic Manipulation: Farmers have been selecting crop plants as per their requirements and specific characteristics for thousands of years. But, modern agriculture has adopted several recent crop breeding and molecular techniques. Among which, development of hybrid seed has been one of the most significant strategy. With the use of genetic engineering and molecular techniques, offspring’s from unrelated organisms are crossed for transfer of special characters. Farmers can use theses crop varieties depending on their requirements.

·   New advancements in technologies: Robotics, drones and computer vision software have completely transformed modern agriculture. Some major technologies that are most commonly utilized by farms include harvest automation, autonomous tractors, seeding and weeding, and drones. Along with theses, satellite imaging can help farmers understand the meteorological events to plan in a better way. Mobile technology also plays an important role in monitoring and controlling agricultural systems like crop irrigation systems. With this modern technology, a farmer can control his irrigation systems from a phone or computer. Farm automation technology addresses major issues like a rising global population, farm labor shortages and changing consumer preferences.

·  Modern Greenhouses:  In recent decades, the Greenhouse industry has been transforming from small-scale facilities used primarily for research and aesthetic purposes to significantly more large-scale facilities that compete directly with land-based conventional food production. The greenhouse provides plant protection, climate control, protection from harsh weather conditions etc. 

Sustainable agriculture is the key that holds the prosperity along with conservation of environment. A good combination of traditional and modern techniques in farming can be the right path to be successful in farming both ecologically and financially. Traditional knowledge along with modern technological advancements can help India become the foremost country of agricultural products in the world. It is possible for farmers to utilize scientific data and technology to improve crop yields and keep themselves up-to-date with cutting edge methods of farming. Technologies like aeroponics (does not require a growing medium), hydroponics (soil-less type of farming which uses water as its growing medium) and aquaponics (a self-sustainable agriculture, where fish excreta water is utilized as nutrient rich solution for growing plants), mushroom cultivation etc. are arising and can be taken by the farmers.