Natural and human factors affect the quality and quantity of crops. Knowledge about these factors is important to ensure the efficient and productive practice of crop growing. This article discusses both human and natural factors affecting crop farming in Pakistan.
What are human and natural factors?
Natural factors refer to physical factors i.e. climate, type of soil, availability of waters, etc. which affect both positively and negatively the productivity of crop and animal farming.
Human factors refer to economic factors i.e. money investment, machinery, skilled labor, etc.
Impact of natural factors on small scale Farming
The outputs of small-scale farming are very small and used only for home use. Any rare surplus products are sold to the market for profit. Factors affecting small scale crop farming are as follows:
1. Size of the farm
In this form of farming the size of the farm is very small. Hence the agricultural gain is also very small.
2. Involvement of family
Usually, both men and female family members including children are part of the farming processes. They work on the inherited knowledge about farming practice. Hence, the farming practice is on traditional lines rather than the scientific and modern means.
3. Traditional Methods of farming
Traditional methods of farming i.e. traditional wooden plow and draft power from bullocks are in vogue in sowing, plowing, irrigating, weeding, threshing and harvesting. As mentioned above new technology and machinery has a rare use in farming.
4. Capital investment
There is hardly any capital investment in small-scale subsistence farming.
5. Traditional seeds
The farmers sow traditional varieties of seeds, a practice coming from their ancestors. The use of genetically modified seeds or the use of High Yielding variety Seeds is non-existent.
6. Fertilizers and pesticides
Like that of HYV seeds, the use of fertilizers and pesticides is rare. The farmers use natural manure to increase the fertility of their fields.
Irrigation methods in use are also old and traditional. Mostly the canals taken from rivers are used for irrigation. Modern methods of irrigation i.e. use of machinery for watering the fields are non-existent.
Human factors in Cash Crop Farming
Following are the human factors affecting the production in cash crop farming:
1. Irrigation systems
Unlike small-scale farming, modern methods of irrigation are used to irrigate huge acres of land in cash-crop farming. For instance, perennial canals taking from barrages and dams to fields are mostly in use along with inundation canals.
2. Chemical Fertilizers
Contrary to small-scale farming, the use of fertilizers and pesticides is a common feature of cash-crop farming. The use of fertilizers increases the fertility of the soil which in turn leads to increased production.
3. Farm mechanization
The term ‘farm mechanization’ refers to the use of technology and machinery in agricultural practice. The use o tractors, threshers, combine harvesters is in vogue in cash-crop farming. Mechanization speeds up the processes on the farm with decreased labor employment.
4. Use of High-Yielding Variety Seeds
The basic purpose of cash-crop farming is to earn cash. Therefore, High Yielding Seeds have a common use because they maximize both the quality and quantity of agricultural productivity.
5. Skilled labor force
Usually, the skilled labor force is employed at different times i.e. plowing, threshing, and harvest times.
6. Knowledge about methods
Research-based knowledge and modern methods of farming are being used with a focus on maximization of profit.
7. Pesticides and Insecticides
The crop is protected from pests and insects by applying pesticides and insecticides.
Natural factors for crop farming
The natural factors influencing the productivity of crops are land, soil, climate, and water from underground and from rivers.
1. Type of Soil
Soil type plays an important role in crop growing. Different types of soil are suitable for the growth of different crops. The Ph of soil helps determine the suitability of a particular soil for crop or growth of other plants. The soil having a pH number less than 7 is acidic in nature and acidic soils are not suitable for the growth of plants. Similarly, soil with a pH above 7 is called alkaline soils which are helpful in plant growing.
Long-term weather conditions esp. temperature is one of the natural factors influencing plant growth and development. Farmers select plat type and time for sowing, planting, and harvest, etc. according to the prevailing temperature. Crop ripe and harvest time are prone to delays if there are variations in the temperature.
The temperature factor also determines the time length of crop cultivation. For example, the practice of crop farming in highland climatic zones only for 4-5 months during summers. On the contrary, crop farming in the low land climatic areas continues throughout the year because of the moderate climate.
Availability of irrigation water is key for crop growing. Shortage of water can cause a reduction in the production of crops. Similarly, the quality of irrigation water also matters as poor quality of water can cause slow growth, reduction in the quality and production of the crop. For example, water with high soluble chlorides is hazardous to plants as they damage the roots of the plants and prevent roots to absorb the required nutrients from the soil.
4. Pests and diseases
Plants are struck by different diseases affecting their health and production. These diseases can be bacterial, viral, and many times fungal in nature affecting plants from the roots or above the ground at any stage of the plant growth.