Cultural Practices In Agriculture: Meaning Of Cultural Practices (Seed Treatment,Pre-planting, & Post-planting Operations)

Cultural Practices in the farm are all those activities that take place before, during, and after field cultivation and planting. They are referred to as Pre-planting, Planting, And Post-planting operations.

Pre-Planting Operations:

These include all forms of operations/activities, carried out in the farm before planting can effectively take place. They include choice of site, bush clearing, burning of trash, mound making, mulching, nursery preparation, pricking out, thinning and hardening.

a. Choice of Site: Consideration for site selection should be based on the size of the farm, type of the crops to be established, fertility of the soil, topography of the land, water availability, place of work, accessibility to road and market, etc. Normally, A neutral loamy soil that is rich in organic manure would be ideal.

b. Site Clearing: Bush clearing is done to prepare the land for farming. Slashing is done using cutlass or machet depending on the thickness of the bush.

c. Burning: This may be optional, depending on the volume of trash. It may be practiced to help dispose cleared vegetation. The ash, after burning helps reduce soil acidity as well as the incidence of soil pests and diseases.

d. Stumping: This involves the use of farm tools like the cutlass, spade, mattock, axe, bull-dozer, etc, to manually or mechanically remove/uproot the base of trees and shrubs. This done to make cultivation easier and free from obstruction.

e. Plotting: This is the mapping out or demarcation of farm lands into plots. Among the tools required here are ranging poles and measuring tapes.

Planting Operations:

This is the actual planting of the seedlings, seeds or the propagation materials. Planting operations comprise all activities carried out during the planting process. They include the following:

Seed Treatment: This is a way of dressing the seeds or the planting materials, to adequately prepare them for planting, so as to ensure good germination or sprouting, and subsequently good yield.

i. Spacing and Planting: Spacing refers to the planting distance allowable for each crop specie, between inter-row and intra-row plants It varies from one plant specie to another. Incorrect spacing may lead to over-crowding, resulting in competition for light, water space, soil nutrient, etc.

ii. Seed Rate: This is the quantity of seeds or planting materials required to plant up an area indicated in the amount of seed per stand of the field.

iii. Planting Date: This varies with crops, species and climatic factors. However, there is early planting between March and May, and late planting from August to October.

iv. Planting Depth: This is the sowing depth required or allowed for the plant to perform well in the field.

v. Transplanting: This is the process of removing the seedling from the nursery to the field, where they will be allowed to establish until maturity and harvesting.

vi. Pricking: Removal of seedlings at two-leaf from pre-nursery with nursery.

Post-Planting Operations:

These are activities that are carried out after the crops are planted or transplanted up to the time of harvesting. A good post-planting operation is an insurance against crop failure, and good follow-up activities. These operations include the following:

i. Thinning: This is the removal of weak, dead or excess plants/seedlings, so as to enable the better-established and healthy ones develop properly.

ii. Supplying: This is the replacement of dead seedlings with other planting materials, so as not to allow the creation of unnecessary spaces.

iii. Mulching: This involves the use of mulch materials like dry grasses, wood shavings, straw, etc, to cover the soil surface, so as to prevent or reduce the loss of soil water by evaporation, prevent growth of weeds, regulate soil temperature and add organic manure to soil.

iv. Manuring/Fertilizer Application: Adequate supply of nutrients is required by plants for growth and increased yield. This is achieved by incorporating organic manure and inorganic fertilizers into the soil.

v. Harvesting: This is the act of collecting mature crop products from the field, either for immediate consumption, processing, marketing or storage. This is done either manually by hand-picking or by use of mechanical means like simple harvesters, combined harvesters, mechanical reapers, etc. Harvesting implement includes, sickle, cutlass, go-to-hell, etc.

vi. Staking, Weeding, Prunning/Trimming, Pests and Diseases Control: Are also aspects of post-planting operations. In staking, plants with trailing stems are supported with stakes so as to allow them grow well, get exposed to enough sunlight, and be free from soil-pests attack, etc.

Plants with weak stems are propped to provide support. During weeding, unwanted plants are removed to avoid competition with crops for food, water, light, space, etc.