Agriculture Corner

Natural Soil Profile

Introduction to Natural Soil Profile

Natural soil profile means the layers of soil that have been made or accumulated naturally and without any intervention of human being. To make it clearer, let us examine what is soil profile? You might have seen during excavation of land by a bulldozer or soil excavator, that there exist several layers of soil. Some authors and scientist call it soil horizons. The arrangement of soil horizons is actually called soil profiles and if these layers exist naturally then it is declared as natural soil profiles.

Generally, natural soil profiles are divided into four groups. These are;

  • Sedentary Soils
  • Transported Soils
  • Soil Development
  • Top Soil and Sub-Soil

Sedentary Soils

These are developed in the materials that are gradually weathered from the underlying rock. It is important to note that these soils are not common. This is because, most loose rock is eroded. However, some evidence can be seen where great depths of transported material have formed the parent material as in the boulder clays left behind after the Ice Age. If you dug a hole in such soil, it shows gradual transition from un-weathered rock to organic matter rich topsoil.

Transported Soils

After the fragmentation of rock and soil particles are formed as a result, they become easy victim of erosion. These soils are then carried out from the place of their formation to sites that are miles away through the process of erosion and deposition occurs. Interestingly, they can be identified easily by a definite boundary between the eroded material and the underlying rock and its allied rock materials. In case, when more than one soil material is transported to the site, as in many river valleys, several distinct layers can be seen. These soils are very fertile and best medium for rooting of plants in agriculture.

Soil Development

As we know soil is developed from parent material rocks. So the nature of the soil is largely determined by the characteristics of parent material. However, with the passage of time the soil interact with climate, drainage, topography and vegetation. This interaction gives rise to characteristics of soil profile. In this way the soil that develops can be described in terms of characteristics of different horizons which make up the soil profiles.

Different soil horizons

There are 5 horizons in soil. These are O, L, A, B, and C.

The ‘O’ and ‘L’ horizon composed of the organic matter that is found on the top of the mineral soil. It is also commonly referred to as litter layer. In the upper layer of soil, there is horizon ‘A’. It is the horizon where the components are washed downwards. It is usually darker in color. This represents high humus content presence. After that, there is a lighter layer below it. In this layer, fine materials tend to accumulate and are called as horizon ‘B’. Horizon ‘B’ is also called as illuvial horizon. Under cultivation scenario, the horizon ‘A’ gets it self-align with the topsoil while horizon ‘B’ aligns with subsoil.  Below these 4 horizons, there is ‘C’ horizon which is also termed as bedrock. In this horizon, un-weathered layer of rock is present.

Topsoil and Subsoil

Naturally, the organic matter is present more at the topsoil rather than deep soil. Its concentration gets less as we move downward. When cultivation is carried out, the organic matter is reshuffled that creates a distinct layer of topsoil and subsoil. These layers have a boundary at plough depth. As the organic matter is darker due, so the layers get distinct also by darker soil at topsoil level and less darker soil at subsoil level.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Rahman, M. A. (2019, January 22). Natural Soil Profile [Blog Post]. Retrieved from[/box]

Agriculture Corner

Loss of Organic Matter in Arid Areas


Organic matter deficiency is a problem that is faced by almost entire cultivated lands of Pakistan. Intensive and multiple cropping have rendered the agricultural lands with fewer nutrients. In arid areas, the situation is worse and loss of organic matter and nutrient is high as compared to irrigated lands. The reason is poverty that prevails among the farming community of arid regions that solely dependent on rainwater. The production is less and hence they meet their necessities hardly and left with less finances to replenish the nutrients and loss of organic matter through application of artificial fertilizers.

In arid areas, the cropping has exposed oils to conditions that are favorable in decomposing and erosion. These conditions increase the pace of loss of organic matter from soil. Changes in carbon and nitrogen that are related to losses of organic matter have occurred with small grains and row crops under both continuous cropping and alternate crop fallow systems.

How to Increase Organic Matter in Soil?

Organic matter elevation in the soil is necessary for optimum crop plant growth for healthy production. The loss of organic matter can be reduced or compensated by adopting some useful measures. These measures can be applied individually or collectively to increase the organic matter in arid areas soil.

  1. Regular application of farm yard manure (FYM) or litter in the agriculture fields of arid areas.
  2. Practicing stubble farming. This can be done by retaining the large portions of crop biomass in the agriculture fields during the time of harvesting.
  3. Keeping the soil covered and cool by mulching techniques to slow down organic matter degradation.
  4. Adopting the habit of green manuring in the agriculture fields of arid areas.
  5. Addition of hydrojels or the industrial organic wastes.
  6. Poultry manure application which is rich in nitrogen and is considered as one of the strongest organic manure.
  7. Planting legumes during fallow periods.

These practices are not only cheaper but also within the financial range of the relatively poor farming community of arid areas as compare to irrigated land farmers to cope with the loss of organic matter from soil .

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Rahman, M. A. (2018, September 21). Loss of Organic Matter in Arid Areas [Blog Post]. Retrieved from[/box]

Agriculture Corner

Reducing Soil Evaporation in Arid Agriculture


The second approach in maintaining soil moisture in arid lands is by reducing soil evaporation by applying certain methods. This is important because after securing or preserving the water in the soil of the root zone of plants, it is important to stop this water for maximum time as arid lands or arid agriculture has the characteristics of low rainfall frequency. So till the next rainfall, the previous water of rain should be stopped from evaporation.

There are various methods to reduce evaporation of moisture from soil in arid agriculture. These are;

  1. Soil Mulching
  2. Straw Mulching
  3. Chemical Mulching

Soil Mulching

This method of soil moisture preservation can reduce the evaporation by 50 percent roughly. In this technique, a surface of mulch of soil is created by giving a shallow cultivation. The deepness of soil mulch is 5-8 cm. The advantage of shallow polughing or harrowing helps in breaking capillary link of lower soil with surface soil. Applying this technique is advice by the agriculture experts after every rainfall.

Straw Mulching

It is an artificial sort of a mulching technique. In this technique, straws of crop residues are used instead of soil. It has been proved scientifically that straw mulching reduces soil moisture up to 50-75mm. This is technique is widely practiced in arid lands by the farmers after wheat harvesting.

Chemical Mulching

This is a new technique and is under experimentation. Evaporation of soil water is a severe problem in arid agriculture system and the above two techniques though save considerable amount of moisture evaporation; however, they are not long term approaches. Chemical mulching uses chemical Hexadecanol. During experiments, it showed that when sprayed and mix on the top quarter inch of soil, it reduces evaporation by 43 percent. The advantage of this mulching technique over other two is that this technique remained effective for a year. The surface layer of soil gets dry rapidly than untreated soil. The dry layer creates a buffer to evaporation.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ] Rahman, M. A. (2018, September 20). Reducing Soil Evaporation in Arid Agriculture [Blog Post]. Retrieved from [/box]

Agriculture Corner

Preserving Rain Water at the Root Zone Level in Arid Agriculture

Preserving Water at the Root Zone

The soil present at the root zone of the plants actually acts as the water storage reservoir.  This moisture carrying soil is very for a plant life. To increase the moisture, there is a need to increase the infiltration rate of water into the soil so that water is readily available in the root zone. The water that infiltrates into this reservoir can be stored for a longer period of time for crop use that results in good agriculture production. The preservation of rainwater by this method helps increasing the agriculture production in arid agriculture systems. This article focuses on presenting various methods for preserving rain water at the root zone of plants.

The infiltration rate of water into the soil however, depends upon many factors. These include soil texture, soil cover, soil structure, the degree and dryness of soil. It also depends heavily on the distribution of rainfall along with the intensity of rainfall. The chief enemy of good infiltration of water into the soil is the run-off of water from the fields that results in poor infiltration and thus agriculture production is lost. 

Any practice, aimed at increasing the infiltration rate of water into the soil helps increasing the storage of rain water into the soil. There are several agronomic practices that can increase the infiltration of rainwater into the soil and thus helps in increasing the agriculture production in the arid lands. These are;

  1. By leveling the agricultural fields equally so that no slope is available to the water to run-off. Digital land leveler can serve the purpose greatly here.
  2. By avoiding creation of compactness in the soil. This can be reduced by occasional ploughings in agriculture fields.
  3. By establishing high alleys or bounds around the agriculture fields.
  4. By increasing the vegetative cover over the soil.
  5. By creating terracing.
  6. By doing strip cropping along the contours.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ] Rahman, M. A. (2018, September 20). Preserving Rain Water at the Root Zone Level in Arid Agriculture [Blog Post]. Retrieved from [/box]

Agriculture Corner

Arid Agriculture and Moisture Deficiency


In arid lands of Pakistan and India, water is the chief limiting factor in optimum crop production. On the other hand, unfortunately, it is also the most wasted factor of production in arid land agriculture system.  The water resources are not uniformly distributed in arid agriculture system.  In many parts of Pakistan and India, water resources are abundant where they are required least and areas where there requirement is most, they are scarce and hence no or less production is achieved from agriculture sector. Moisture deficiency in arid lands is thus a growing issue.

It is also a fact that the chance of having a bumper crop of wheat depends largely on the healthy production of wheat in arid lands whether it is Pakistan or India. This is because; the irrigated agricultural lands are already producing the crops at their full potential. Those areas have abundant water along with optimum supply of fertilizer as the farmers there have good financial resources to supply fertilizers to their lands. On the other hand, arid agriculture has not only limited supply of water that results in less production and less profits to the farming community and that is why production of crop depends highly on good supply of rain water in arid lands.   

The current moisture deficiency in arid regions doesn’t mean that they have lack of water resources. In many dry regions of Pakistan and India, there are several potential water resources that could be developed and additional water can be made available by increasing efficiency of existing water resources and by improving water conservation practices. These practices can be clubbed together under two main approaches. More detail about these two approaches for improving moisture deficiency in arid regions can be accessed from below two links. These are;

  1. Preserving rain water at the root zone level in arid agriculture
  2. Reducing soil evaporation in arid agriculture

Under these two approaches, there are several methods that can be adopted. To learn more, click above two links.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ] Rahman, M. A. (2018, September 20). Arid Agriculture and Moisture Deficiency [Blog Post]. Retrieved from [/box]

Agriculture Corner

Objectives of Adult Education in Agriculture


Without designing proper objectives on paper, success rate of any educational program is minute. In the case of adult education in agriculture, the responsibly of extension officer or adult education agent increases manifolds. This is because of the reason that it is somewhat tricky and slightly difficult to teach adults than the children due to less accepting attitude and lack of interest in learning and adopting new technologies and innovations. In the light of this, the objectives of adult education in agriculture are needed to be based on specific needs or precisely should be based to address demand driven problems.

Before going to deliver adult education, extension officer should equip himself with the demands and solutions of the farmers in the targeted area, so that objectives of adult education in agriculture are addressed optimally.   

Objectives of Adult Education in Agriculture

Below is the list of 9 important objectives of adult education in agriculture that should be given due importance while designing any adult education program for farmers.

  • First and foremost objective of adult education is to convince and encourage them to adopt new and improved technology in farming operations. The communication skills and convincing power of adult education expert is of utmost importance here.
  • Develop abilities in the farmers that can enhance their managerial skills so that farming is turned from ‘just farming’ to successful business.
  • Teach them such techniques that increase their abilities to make farm a better living place.
  • Adult education program should be up to date and provide farmers with latest and innovative farming techniques and information.
  • Democracy is vital in making any business of life successful. Adult education program should develop awareness of the value of democracy to farmers.
  • The program should develop and maintain favorable social environment in the farming community.
  • Increase the farmer’s interest in farming by incorporating such knowledge and understanding about care, well being and physical fitness on the farm.
  • The program of adult education should use such tools that are easy to understand for farming community.
  • The adult education program should be designed and deliver in local language of the targeted area. This will increase the overall efficiency of the program.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ] Rahman, M. A. (2018, May 31). Objectives of Adult Education in Agriculture [Blog Post]. Retrieved from [/box]


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Agriculture Corner

Functions of Adult Education in Agriculture


Adult education is one of the key components in agriculture extension service programs, designed for any farming community globally. This is because of the low literacy rate that exits in farming communities especially in the developing nations to make them competitive in farming operations. In the light of this, there are several functions of adult education in agriculture sector. These are categorized into three main functions. Following paragraphs will highlight the functions of adult education in agriculture sector.

Functions of Adult Education in Agriculture

Breaking Orthodoxy and Encouragement

First, out of three functions of adult education in agriculture is the linking of farmers with the innovations and technology of modern day agriculture. Field experience shows that it is hard to convince the farmers to change the way of old farming practices and to adapt to modern agricultural practices due to their risk aversive behavior.

Similarly applying new technology in farming is another issue for farmers due to illiteracy. So first and foremost function of adult education is to break the orthodoxy. They need to be convinced that adopting to change will bring economic fruits from farming. Encouragement is needed for all this process and it is more feasible to indigenize the modern technology so that farmers can understand it easily.

One think should be kept in mind that extension officer must use effective and dynamic extension techniques for transmitting information while involved in adult education in agriculture.  

Bridge the Gap between Farmers and Research

Second function of adult education in agriculture extension is to bridge the gap between research carried out in research institutes and taking problems of farming community to the research institutes. For this purpose, the adult education officer or extension officer should have sound knowledge and grip over the topic which he is going to teach the farmers.

On the other hand, he should also understand the nature of technology which he is going to transfer to the adult farmers. Another function of adult education that is to be performed by the extension officer is to diagnose the reason of the problems faced by farmers at spot, and if possible, suggest the solutions immediately.

Skill Development in Farmers

Third function of adult education is to equip the farmers with the skills especially the managerial skills, so that they can play their productive role in commercial economy. These can be taught by trainings to the farmers by the adult education officer.

These functions of adult education in agriculture are most important in making the farmers successful.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Rahman, M. A. (2018, May 29). Functions of Adult Education in Agriculture [Blog Post]. Retrieved from[/box]

Agriculture Corner

Benefits of Integrated Farming System


As discussed in previous article titled Integrated Farming System that it is a system of farming, in which various types of agriculture production activities or enterprises are taking place simultaneously. It is also discussed that it has helped farmers in achieving more economies of scale in farm business. So surely, there are benefits of integrated farming system. This article will now highlight few but important benefits of integrated farming system.

Benefits of Integrated Farming System

Enhanced Productivity is one of the most important benefits of integrated farming system. By increase productivity means that economic yield increases per unit area per unit by time due to intensification of crop and allied farming enterprises.

Profitability factor also increases as productivity increase. This is because we are using the waste material or by-product of one enterprise as an input into other farming enterprise.

Adoption of New Technology is one of the important benefits of integrated farming system. This is because, adoption of technology needs money. Large farmers have finances so they can adopt it easily. However, small farmers usually face shortage in finances. But due to integrated farming system, they have the opportunity to increase their returns from farming and adapt to new technology. 

Environmental Safety is ensured in this approach. How? As we are using the waste material of one enterprise as input into the production function of other type of enterprise, so waste pollution is minimized and hence environmental safety is ensured.

Fight Against Deforestation can win by this approach. Planting timber and fuel wood along with the crops in field not only utilizes the free space of land but also supply wood for many purposes. Hence pressure on natural forests can be reduced and natural ecosystem is preserved.

Few other Benefits of Integrated Farming System

Some other benefits of this type of farming system are listed below;

  • Promotion of Agro-Industry
  • Increased Input Efficiency
  • Cost Minimization for Input Use
  • Increased Employment
  • Fodder Security for Livestock
  • Recycling
  • Continuous Income Round the Year
  • Energy Saving

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Rahman, M. A. (2018, May 27). Benefits of Integrated Farming System [Blog Post]. Retrieved from [/box]


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Vegetable Gardening

Square Foot Gardening


Square Foot Gardening is an innovative and advance technique of planning small but intensively planted gardens at home. Mel Bartholomew is considered as the pioneer to coin the term Square Foot Gardening. The beauty of this farming technique resides in its application of organic farming techniques combined with other innovative methods to get more and better production from a small piece of land especially in vegetable gardens.

Square Foot Gardening  includes the application of organic gardening techniques along with strong emphasis on composting methods, planting the plants closely and intensively, making raised beds and also bio intensive attention to a small yet clearly defined area of garden.   

Square Foot Gardening

Importance of Square Foot Gardening

The success of this technique lies in the fact that this method is quite beneficial in those areas where the gardener is facing the problem of poor quality of soil. By selecting a confined area for gardening, that plot can be modifies according to the desire and best quality of output as well as production can be obtained. This technique is equally beneficial for those who are new to vegetable gardening or backyard gardening. It is also proved to be a recreational activity for the people with disabilities those allowing them to enjoy the leisure time efficiently.

Method of Square Foot Gardening

The basic idea behind this technique is using an open bottomed box that is placed on the soil that contain finite amount of soil. This soil is then divided into various sections according to the desire using grids. To get good quality and quantity of production from vegetable gardening crops each square would be planted with different kind of crop plants. In case of ornamental gardening, the Square Foot gardening is equally beneficial in a sense that spate type of flowers can be grown in each square to increase the aesthetic sense of the garden.   

Square Foot Farming 1 | Arid Agriculture
Square Foot Farming 1

Vegetable Gardening Recommendation for Square Foot Gardening

The Square Foot gardening can be used differently for different types of crops. For instance, a single Tomato plant might consume a full square. Similarly, herbs like Oregano, Mint or Basil also consume a full square. On the other hand, Strawberry plants can be planted four per square. In case of vegetables, sixteen radishes can also be planted and grown per square.

The smaller beds used in square foot gardening are helpful in easy adaptation of the farmer with his/her garden. He can have reach to every single inch of the entire area for gardening practices by avoiding direct stepping on the soil ad making it compact.  

Square Foot Gardening is Effective for Weed Control

Square Foot Gardening  is effective for weed control in a sense that a weed barrier can be made beneath the square foot box. At the bottom of the box, it can be filled with a combination of one third of decayed Sphagnum (peat moss), one third of compost and one third of vermiculture.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Rahman, M. A. (2018, March 20). Square Foot Gardening [Blog Post]. Retrieved from [/box]

Agriculture Corner

Branches of Entomology


The word Entomology is derived from a Greek word “entomone” and “logia”. If we look at the meaning of these two words, “entomone” means insects while “logia” meaning the study. Keeping this in view, we can define entomology as the branch of zoology that deals with the scientific study of insects. Furthermore, entomology also explores the linkages between insects themselves and also the relationship of insects with other organisms including plant and animal on earth. This enables the scientists to divide entomology into various branches of entomology for easy understanding of the subject and also to classify insects in their particular groups based on their characteristics.

Following are the branches of entomology;

  1. Insect Ecology
  2. Insect Morphology
  3. Insect Pathology
  4. Insect Physiology
  5. Insect Taxonomy
  6. Insect Toxicology
  7. Industrial Entomology
  8. Medical and Veterinary Entomology
  9. Biological Control Entomology
  10. Post-Harvest Entomology
  11. Forensic Entomology
  12. Forest Entomology
  13. Crop Protection Entomology

Branches of Entomology

Insect Ecology

This branch of entomology deals with the relationships of insects with their environment. This branch focuses on the study and analysis of presence of insects in an ecosystem. The aim is the preserve the insects not to remove or eradicate them. 

Insect Morphology

The study of insect body parts as well as their function is studied in this branch of entomology. This branch deals mostly with the external body parts of an insect.

Insect Pathology

The diseases that may harm or effect the health of insects is studied in this branch of entomology. In this, scientist uses disease agents or vectors to get rid of certain pests that may harm useful insects. It also include, getting rid of those pests that harm agriculture.

Insect Physiology

This branch of entomology deals with various functions and behavioral systems present inside the insect body. It also includes the study of behavior of different insects with their environment or ecosystem.

Insect Taxonomy

As we know taxonomy is the naming and classification of organisms. So, insect taxonomy is the practice as well as theory of naming the insects. It is a continuous process as there are many unidentified insects still roaming on the planet earth.

Insect Toxicology

This branch of entomology deals with how the insecticides and other chemical affect the insect’s physiological functions. We can say that this branch deals with the field of controlling insects and pest management.

Industrial Entomology

The branch of entomology deals with the study as well as rearing of insects for business or beneficial purposes. This includes honeybee or apiculture, bumblebees, butterflies, silkworms etc. This branch of entomology actually deals with benefit of mankind. On the other hand, it also deals with the removal of harmful insects like termites, cockroaches, houseflies etc. from the houses.

Medical and Veterinary Entomology

Insects not only harm humans, but also animals. This branch of entomology deals with the insects that harm not only humans but effect animals also. It deals everything about medical public health, and veterinary importance such as Malaria, Dengue etc.

Biological Control Entomology

This branch deals with using insects against harmful insects. In other words, friendly insects are used to cater harmful insects thus called as biological control insects. For example, Ladybird eats aphids which destroy wheat crop. Similarly, dragonfly eats those insects that damage crops.

Post-Harvest Entomology

This branch of entomology deals with the study, practice and control of those insects that harm the stored commodities and products like stores wheat, rice etc.

Forensic Entomology

In this branch, the focus is on using the insects to determine or estimate the time, place of human health for legal purposes.

Forest Entomology

This branch of entomology deals with the trees and insects. In other words, in this branch, we study the impact of insects on forests and forest products and design solutions to safeguard trees from serious damage.

Crop Protection Entomology

The branch of entomology that deals with the study of controlling insects from damaging the crops in the fields in called as crop protection entomology. Sometimes, it is also called as agricultural entomology.

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[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Rahman, M. A. (2018, March 04). Branches of Entomology[Blog Post]. Retrieved from[/box]