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close this bookEnvironmental Handbook Volume II: Agriculture, Mining/Energy, Trade/Industry (GTZ, 1995, 736 p.)
close this folderAgriculture
close this folder27. Plant production
View the document1. Scope
View the document2. Environmental impacts and protective measures
View the document3. Notes on the analysis and evaluation of environmental impacts
View the document4. Interaction with other sectors
View the document5. Summary assessment of environmental relevance
View the document6. References

1. Scope

The following terms recur frequently in this environmental brief and therefore require definition:

- Single cropping involves growing only one crop on a particular area of land, e.g. rice. The sequence in which various single crops are grown one after the other in a field is known as the crop rotation.
- Intercropping is a system in which a number of different crops grow together for the entire vegetation period or part of it, e.g. a combination of cassava, cowpeas and millet.
- Annual crops are generally herbaceous plants with a one-year vegetation cycle (e.g. cereals, legumes, various vegetables, tobacco).
- Perennial crops are plants which are used over a number of years; each plant is sowed or planted only once, e.g. fruit trees, tea, coffee and cocoa.
- Monoculture involves growing a particular crop on the same area of land over a number of cultivation periods, e.g. sugar cane.

Taking into account the production of wood, self-regenerating raw materials, animal fodder and crops used in the manufacture of semi-luxury goods, plant production represents - in terms of area - man's major form of interference with the Earth's natural balance.

Traditional farming systems are usually based on intercropping and tend to be subsistence-oriented. External inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides are uncommon and are used on only a small scale.

By contrast, large-scale plantation farming generally takes the form of monoculture (sugar cane, cotton) or permanent cropping (coffee, tea, cocoa). These forms of cultivation are market-oriented and dependent on external inputs.

Plant production involves activities in areas such as

- plant protection
- agricultural engineering and animal traction
- irrigation
- species and variety selection
- tillage and fertilising
- crop tending and weed control, harvesting, post-harvest treatment, storage
- erosion protection and control.

Crops are grown to meet the needs of the producer or the market. They also play a role in protecting soil, air and water.

Plant production is carried out on farms, for the most part using family labour, in order to ensure subsistence and earn monetary income.