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Follow your crop – crop monitoring

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What is crop monitoring?

Crop monitoring is essentially the measurement of performance during each stage of crop growth. It is the process of gaining better information, knowledge, and skills related to factors that influence the final crop yield. It allows the farmers to be pro-active rather than reactive to factors affecting crop performance.

Traditional means of assessment:

• Volume and frequency of irrigation/rainfall
• Assessment of the weed types and densities

Modern means of assessment:

• Optical sensing
• Technologically advanced options like Leaf Color Charts & Green Seeker Technology

What are the specific aims in crop monitoring?

  • Identify limitations to crop growth and adopt better management practices.
  • Determine the suitability of a new technology and to find out how it can be integrated into the existing farming system.
  • Evaluate the effects of changes made in cropping management.
  • Enable grain growers to interpret individual crop performance in relation to others.
  • Guide decision making for evaluating new cropping systems, crops and rotations.
  • Devise better ways of tackling specific issues, such as herbicide resistance, nutrient imbalances, and decline in soil condition.
  • Achieve profitable and sustainable yields.

What are the benefits of crop monitoring?

  • It evaluates the crop protection problems and helps in designing control strategies.
  • It reduces production risks and increases crop yield and profitability by helping farmers take timely preventive measures.
  • It facilitates the comparison of new technologies with existing practices.
  • It increases the confidence level of the farmers when they monitor the results of the new technologies.

What is new about crop monitoring?

Farmers do observe regularly their fields, but the new approach involves comparative analysis of the crop performance. Monitoring of crops as part of a local neighborhood farm group activity allows farmers to compare the performance of their crops with others in their area.

How does on-farm participation help?

  • Facilitates the sharing of ideas
  • Provides direct access to technical and research expertise from fellow farmers and extension workers in the field
  • Provides farmers an opportunity to develop skills in assessing crop performance
  • Identifies opportunities for improving crop yield and crop rotation performance
  • Helps farmers to identify the best suitable varieties of crops

What should be the contents of an ideal monitoring program?

  • Pre-planting discussions (cropping patterns, fertilizer applications and soil test results)
  • Reviewing activities undertaken during the year (weed control, management of pests and diseases, and irrigation practices)
  • Post-harvest discussion and interpretation of results (introduction of new technology)

References:
RWC-CIMMYT. 2003. Addressing Resource Conservation Issues in Rice-Wheat Systems of South Asia: A Resource Book. New Delhi: Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains – CIMMYT.

Summary of the Resource Book chapter • 2007