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Technology

Introduction
Only with mass production being aided by modern technology and intensive marketing can the agriculturist exploit both the domestic market as well as the international market to the fullest extent. The volume of production depends not only on the capital investments and marketing strategies but also on the technical capacity used during the production and processing stage.

In fact, technology has come to play a very significant role even in marketing these days. Technology is absolutely critical to the agro industry be it at the primary (production), secondary (processing) or tertiary (marketing and packaging) stage. Experts have always suggested that agricultural technology could play a vital role in addressing the issues and concerns relating to the conservation and management of rural resources.

Technologies

Plough (also 'plow')
Ploughing is the first preparation for planting.

The plough is primarily designed to prepare the ground for cultivation by turning it over, thus burying the weeds and loosening the earth. It is generally agreed by historians that the earliest implement used for cultivation was probably a crude pointed bent stick or tree branch which was used to stir the soil surface. In effect, a hand held hoe was used in which the user scratched at the earth to form a tilth where corn could be sown. Over a period of time, these hand held hoes soon developed into simple ploughs. These primitive ploughs were eventually pulled by animals like oxen, camels and even elephants. Animals enabled the land to be tilled more easily and faster; thus more food was produced. The credit for this innovation goes to the Egyptians. These ploughs had different modifications in different parts of the world.
 
During the period from the 1820s to the 1840s, several innovations occurred in plough production. The Breaking Plough, or Prairie Breaker, was a heavy wooden plough plated with iron strips to reduce friction. Prairie ploughs were heavy, weighing at least 125 pounds and requiring from three to seven yoke of oxen. Cutting only three inches into the soil, farmers could break eight acres a year. After a span of few years, ploughs containing a polished wrought iron moldboard and steel share were invented.
 
Harrow
After ploughing, other implements were used. The harrow was necessary to smoothen the soil in areas where the soil remained rough. It consists of a wooden or metal framework bearing metal disks, teeth, or sharp projecting points, called tines, which is dragged over plowed land to crush the clods of earth and level the soil. Harrows are also used to uproot weeds, aerate the soil, and cover seeds.

In the beginning the harrows were as simple as a tree branch but the harrow became more sophisticated after the Industrial Revolution. By the 1790s, two distinct types of harrows were in use: the square and the triangle, or "A" frame. The square harrow was used on old fields that were free of large obstructions, while the triangular frame was used on freshly ploughed fields. These models had wooden frames with wood or iron teeth.
In modern times, harrows are of varied types. Some are simply dragged behind a tractor or draft animal; some are suspended on wheels; many have levers to adjust the depth of the cut.
 
Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Agriculture
Industrial revolution brought about drastic changes in the farming process. Farmers discovered the crop rotation system that allowed them to forgo leaving up to half of the land unused or fallow between each planting. This phase witnessed the use of animal husbandry. The industrial revolution brought about an end to tedious handiwork and encouraged the invention and manufacture of other labor-saving farm implements and machinery. Few of the inventions include:
 
Seed Driller
Seed drill was an innovation that allowed seeds to be easily planted deep into the earth instead of on top where the majority were washed away or otherwise lost. The machine was pulled by horses and consisted of rotating drills or runners that planted seeds at a set depth.

Horse Hoe
It is horse-drawn machine which loosened the soil and killed weeds.

Reaper
The first reapers cut the standing grain and, with a revolving reel, sweeping it onto a platform from which it was raked off into piles by a man walking alongside. The reaper could thus harvest more grain than five men using the earlier cradles.

The reaper was eventually replaced by the self-propelled combine, operated by one man, which cuts, gathers, threshes, and sacks the grain mechanically. The reaper was the first step in a transition from hand labor to the mechanized farming of today.
 
Threshing Machines
Prior to the threshing machines farmers used an implement called 'flail' to simply beat the grain with sticks or ropes to knock the seeds from the stalks. But this was a back-breaking work and was of low productivity. Threshing machines were designed for rapidly removing the husks from grain.

With improvements in design and efficiency, threshing machines became progressively more common and the hand flail was gradually consigned to history. The machines could be driven by wind or water power, or by horses, but the steam powered thresher became the most familiar sight. They were eventually replaced in the middle decades of the twentieth century by the combine harvester which both harvests and threshes the crop in the field in a single operation.
 
Tractor
Tractor is a vehicle particularly crafted to exert traction at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture. The versatility of tractor is with respect to its attachments that it supports. The more the options for connecting attachments to the tractor, the higher is the cost. The most common tractor attachments include front end loaders, mowers, box blades, spreaders, tillers, plows, trailers and backhoes for plowing, tilling, disking, harrowing, planting, and similar tasks. Most tractor attachments are interchangeable so they can be used with different machines. The first tractors were steam-powered ploughing engines, followed by Gasoline Powered Tractors.
 

Agricultural Machinery Index

  • Implements for clearing, breaking ground, etc.
    • Stump Pullers
    • Ploughs
    • Steam Ploughs
    • Gang Ploughs
    • Sulky-Ploughs
    • Clod-Crushers
    • Harrows
    • Rollers

  • Implements for depositing Seed - Seed-Sowing Machines-Drills
  • Implements for the Cultivation of the Plant - Cultivators
  • Implements for Gathering Crops
    • Mowers
    • Reapers
    • Lawn-Mowers
    • Potato-Digger
    • Hay-tedders
    • Horse hay-rakes
    • Hay-sweeps
    • Hay-loading machines
    • Horse hay-forks

  • Implements for clearing, breaking Ground, etc.
    • Thrashing-Machine
    • Fanning-mills

  • Miscellaneous implements applicable to various farm-uses
    • Feed-cutters
    • Corn-shellers
    • Cider-mills
    • Incubators
    • Cow-milker.
 
 
Irrigation Technology
Water is undoubtedly the sine qua non for all irrigation activities, worldwide. Particularly in India, an unpredictable monsoon coupled with an increasing demand for food production (at the self-sustenance as well as commercial levels) has induced an imperative need for irrigation options other than those that are either extremely laborious and time consuming or simply too expensive for the small and marginal farmer.

Electric and diesel pumps can be used to extract groundwater for irrigating any large acres of land; however, some cost effective technologies that are being availed by a major section of farmers are as follows:-

Treadle Pump
It is a foot operated water lifting device that can irrigate small plots of land of small holders in regions that have higher water table (not deeper than 25 feet). A treadle pump is a low cost system, simple in design and easily manageable; it appropriately answers the irrigation need for the small farmers.
   

Drip Irrigation Technology
Drip irrigation is a water-saving technology which enables slow and regular application of water directly to the roots of the plants through a network of economically designed plastic pipes and low discharge emitters. It maximizes crop productivity through increase in the crop yield and also the area for cultivation, and protects the environment through conserving soil, water and fertilizer resources, thus increasing the farmer income. Currently, this is being promoted by the Government of India in the form of kits in the water scarce regions in India. They are:

  • Drum Kit
  • Bucket Kit
  • Family Nutrition Kit
  • Customised Systems
   

The impact of the use of these above mentioned irrigation technology can be summed up as follows:-

  • Frees the farmer from the limitations of rain fed farming
  • Raises the capacity of the farmer to grow crops in both winter and summer
  • Leads to land augmentation - With the use of the above mentioned technologies the farmers can cultivate all the year round thus increasing their cropping intensity to 200-300% and never leave their land fallow
  • Easy to use.
   

Biotechnology
According to the United Nations Conventions on Biological Diversity, it is a "technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use". Today genetic engineering is used widely for the following purposes:-

  • Improve yield from crops
  • Reduced vulnerability of crops to environmental stresses
  • Increased nutritional qualities of food crops
  • Improved taste, texture or appearance of food
  • Reduced dependence on fertilizers, pesticides and other agrochemicals
  • Production of novel substances in crop plants.
 
Information Technology
In spite of successful research on new agricultural practices concerning crop cultivation, the majority of farmers is not getting upper-bound yield due to several reasons. One of the reasons is that expert/scientific advice regarding crop cultivation is not reaching farming community in a timely manner. There exists a wide information gap exists between the research level and practice.
Indian farmers need timely expert advice to make them more productive and competitive.

In India, the government is making an effort to bridge this information gap by exploiting advances in Information Technology (IT). This program enables the farmer to cultivate a crop with expertise, as that of an agricultural expert, by disseminating both crop and location specific expert advice in a personalized and timely manner. The system assumes a great importance due to the trend of globalization, as it aims to provide expert advice which is crucial for the Indian farmer to harvest different kinds of crop varieties based on the demand in the world market.
 
 
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