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close this bookBetter Farming Series 07 - Crop Farming (FAO - INADES, 1976, 29 p.)
close this folderPlan of work
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsHow to till
View the documentDepth of tillage
View the documentWhen to plough
View the documentHarrowing


Read pages 4 to 11.
We take a look at tilling done with a hand hoe and tilling done with a plough. Which is done quicker? Which is done better?
Is tilling done at the right time?
Look carefully at a plough and see how it works, how it turns over the earth.

Reread pages 4 to 11.
Read pages 12 to 18.
Reread also Booklet No. 3, page 22 on choosing seed.
Let us take a look at sowing broadcast, sowing in rows and sowing in seed holes.
Why must we sow in rows, and how is it done?
Why must we sow as early as possible?

Looking after crops
Reread pages 12 to 18.
Read pages 19 to 24.
Is the work of looking after the crops done well and at the right time? What about weeding? Earthing up? Thinning?
Do you understand why it is important to look after the crops?

Reread pages 19 to 24.
Read pages 25 to 28.
This week's work is important.
It's no use having a fine harvest if you sell it badly.
What do you do you sell your harvest at a better price?
Reread the whole course. Answer the question paper.

You must choose carefully the field you mean to farm.
Choose a field where plants grow well, where the grasses are tall.
Choose good land.
Choose a field near the village so as not to lose time going to and from the field.
Ask the village headman for permission to farm the field for a very long time.

During the dry season prepare your field.

· Improve the field.
If the soil is wet, drain it (see Booklet No. 6, page 20).
If the soil is short of water, irrigate it (see Booklet No. 6, page 18).
If the soil is on a slope, mark the contour lines (see Booklet No. 5, page 8).

· In order to use animal power (see Booklet No. 6, page 28), mark out a rather large right- angled field.
Clear the land and grub the trees (see Booklet No. 6, page 21 ) .

Tilling means Burning over the soil.


Tilling enables water and air to get right into the soil. It makes the soil less hard. It loosens the soil.

In well- tilled soil seeds germinate easily. Roots penetrate easily.

Tilling mixes earth and herbage. It cleans the soil. The herbage rots and makes humus by tilling the soil, you can mix fertilizers and manure with it.

By hand

You can till, that is turn over the soil, with a hoe or a spade.

By hand: You can till, that is turn over the soil, with a hoe or a spade.

Usually this work is done with a hoe (daba).
The hoe should be heavy enough to cut into the soil even if it is rather hard.
You can also do the work with a spade.
With these tools you can turn over the soil and bury organic matter.
But this work is slow and tiring.

With animal power

The trees in the field have been grubbed.
The farmer uses a plough drawn by donkeys or oxen.
The work is done better and done faster.
The plough.
Usually a simple plough is used.
The plough consists of a ploughshare, a mouldboard and two handles.
The ploughshare cuts a strip of earth.
The mouldboard turns this strip over.
Handles for holding the plough

Handles for holding the plough.

Tilling should never bring the subsoil to the surface (see Booklet No. 4, page 6).
This layer of soil is poor in mineral salts.
Doing this also destroys the soil structure.

Depth of tillage

Tillage can be shallow, normal or deep.

· Shallow tillage.

Look at this drawing:

Shallow tillage

The ploughshare cuts a strip of soil 10 to 15 centimetres thick.

The tillage is said to be shallow when its depth is from 10 to 15 centimetres.

· Normal tillage.

Look at this drawing:

Normal tillage

Tillage is said to be normal when the depth of tillage is 20 centimetres.

With normal tillage the soil can be well turned over and the remains of plants can be well buried.

Make a first furrow with the plough across the whole length of the field.


At the end of the field, turn.
Make a second furrow alongside the first.
The second strip of ploughed field joins the first.
After that, keep turning round the strip of ploughed field.

Conventional ploughing

If the field is very big, make several "lands."

If the field is on a slope, plough along the contour lines (see Booklet No. 5, page 8).

If the cultivated soil (see Booklet No. 4, page 9) is not deep, and if the soil is very light, ploughing is not necessary (see Booklet No. 4, page 17). It may even be a bad thing (see page 7).

Instead use a machine with tines, drawn by animals.

The tines stir the soil without turning it over.

Animal- draw cultivator

With oxen use five to eight tines.
With one donkey, use fewer tines, say three to five.
For other work, such as hoeing, weeding, earthing up (see page 21) change the tines of the cultivator.

When to plough

Ploughing can be done after the harvest or after the first rains.

· After the harvest, at the beginning of the dry season, the soil is not too hard, you can begin to plough your fields.

Then the first rains will fall on soil already opened up, on loosened soil. The rain will penetrate easily and less water will be wasted.

· If you do not have time to plough after the harvest, you should do so as soon as the first rains have fallen.

Sow as soon as possible, so that the plants can use all the water of the rainy season (see Booklet No. 3, page 20).

Very often, farmers plough all their fields at the beginning of the rainy season and spend a lot of time on the ploughing.

They sow much too late.

When the sowing is too late, the plants do not grow well.

A modern farmer sows in good time.

A good farmer ploughs his fields immediately after the harvest, at the beginning of the dry season.


Ploughing often does not leave the soil flat. There are big pieces of earth - clods. The clods must be broken up to make the soil quite flat, and to give earth that is fine, not lumpy. This is called harrowing.

You can break up the clods with a hoe or rake.

But you can do the work more quickly with a harrow drawn by an animal.

No harrow