When you think about investing in managed farmland, what often comes to mind? Rows of corn or wheat, perhaps? While these traditional crops have their merits, there's a hidden gem in the world of agriculture that you shouldn't overlook – horticulture crops. Horticulture crops are a vital component of sustainable farming, offering not only delicious rewards but also incredible value for investors in managed farmlands.
In this article, we'll explore why horticulture crops are a game-changer in agriculture and how they can significantly impact your investment in managed farmland. But before that let’s take a look at what horticulture crops are, diseases of the field, and horticulture crops and their importance.
What Are Horticulture Crops?
Horticulture, as defined in the world of gardening and farming, is the practice of scientifically producing, cultivating, selling, and using high-value, closely tended crops in an environmentally friendly and long-lasting way.
Horticulture, a field of plant agriculture focused on garden crops like fruits, veggies, and decorative plants, gets its name from the Latin words for "garden" and "cultivate." In simple terms, it involves various aspects of garden care, but typically, it's associated with commercial farming. Horticulture falls somewhere between backyard gardening and large-scale agriculture, but all types of cultivation share common connections.
Remember: Horticulture sets itself apart from agriculture by not dealing with extensive crop farming or raising animals. Instead, horticulture revolves around cultivating various crops on smaller plots, while agriculture centres on growing a single major crop at a time.
9 Types Of Horticulture
Horticulture can be split into two main branches: one focuses on growing plants for food, like fruits and vegetables (known as pomology and olericulture), while the other centers on plants for decoration (referred to as floriculture and landscape horticulture).
- Pomology: Pomology is all about fruit and nut crops, while olericulture deals with kitchen herbs like carrots, asparagus, lettuce, cauliflower, tomatoes, and peas.
- Olericulture: Olericulture is the science of growing vegetables, focusing on non-woody edible plants like spinach and collards that fall into the group known as "potherbs and greens."
- Floriculture: Floriculture specializes in producing flowers and decorative plants, such as cut flowers and potted plants.
- Landscape Horticulture: Landscape horticulture is a broad field that includes plants for landscaping, like lawn turf, as well as nursery crops like shrubs, trees, and vines.
Here are some other types of horticulture:
- Arboriculture: Arboriculture is mainly about arborists looking after woody plants for the long term in places like gardens, parks, or populated areas, aiming to enhance the environment for people's enjoyment, safety, and overall well-being.
- Turf Management: Turf management involves all the efforts put into growing and taking care of grass specifically for sports, entertainment, and beautification purposes.
- Viticulture: Viticulture is a specialised field within horticulture focused on growing and gathering grapes. This involves various tasks such as overseeing pest control, disease prevention, fertilisation, watering, tending to the vines' growth, assessing fruit quality, deciding when to harvest, and pruning the vines in winter.
- Oenology: Oenology is a specific horticultural field that focuses on the study of wine and the art of making it.
- Post-harvest physiology: Post-harvest physiology is all about how plant tissues behave after they've been harvested. This helps in figuring out the best ways to keep the plants fresh and prevent them from going bad by finding the right storage and transport conditions.
Importance Of Horticulture
Horticulture has improved the financial well-being of farmers by boosting the average intake of fruits from 40 to 85 grams and vegetables from 95 to 175 grams per person in a year. The importance of horticulture lies in the fact that it has been instrumental in advancing women's empowerment through job opportunities in activities like growing mushrooms, cultivating flowers, and producing vegetable seeds, among other things.
Moreover, horticulture crops make up over 24.5% of agriculture's GDP, despite occupying only 8.5% of the entire region. India's fertile lands nurture a diverse range of fruits and veggies, both tropical and temperate. Across approximately 4 million hectares, you'll find a cornucopia of over fifty vegetable varieties, with star crops like potatoes, onions, peas, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplants, okra, cabbage, and cucurbits thriving in the mix.
Horticultural science is a unique field that combines the study of plants with their aesthetics. Horticulture is practical; it helps enhance plant growth, marketing, and overall quality of life for both people and animals. It plays a consistent role as the best-managed farmland practice by delivering nutritious produce, adding beauty to our surroundings, and promoting recreational activities.
Disease Of Field And Horticultural Crops And Their Management
Disease in the field and their management is mainly based on the use of chemical compounds like bactericides, fungicides, and insecticides which are toxic to causative agents, phytopathogens, or vectors of plant diseases. Proper disease management is essential to minimise these impacts. Here's an overview of common diseases of the field and horticultural crops and their management strategies:
Management strategies for the diseases of the field and horticultural crops:
- Crop Rotation: Rotate crops to disrupt disease cycles. Planting different crops in succession can reduce the buildup of specific pathogens in the soil.
- Resistant Varieties: Use disease-resistant crop varieties whenever possible. Plant breeding programs have developed resistant strains for many common diseases.
- Hygiene: Practise good field and garden hygiene by removing and destroying infected plant debris. This prevents the overwintering of pathogens.
- Proper Irrigation: Avoid over-irrigation, as excessive moisture can promote fungal diseases. Use drip irrigation to keep foliage dry.
- Fungicides and Pesticides: Apply appropriate fungicides and pesticides when necessary. Follow recommended application rates and schedules.
- Biological Control: Use beneficial organisms like predatory insects or nematodes to control pest populations.
- Sanitation: Keep tools, equipment, and hands clean to prevent the spread of pathogens.
- Quarantine Measures: Inspect and isolate new plants to prevent introducing diseases into your garden or field.
- Pruning and Thinning: Prune infected plant parts and thin overcrowded plantings to improve air circulation and reduce disease pressure.
- Soil Management: Improve soil health through organic matter addition and proper pH adjustment to promote plant vigour.
- Early Detection: Regularly scout for disease symptoms and take prompt action if detected. Early intervention is often more effective.
- Weather Monitoring: Be aware of weather conditions that favour disease development, such as high humidity or prolonged rainfall.
- Education: Stay informed about the specific diseases affecting your crops and the most up-to-date management practices.
The Bottom Line
As managed farmlands are evolving, horticulture crops are at the forefront of this transformation. Beyond their delectable produce, these crops offer investors a chance to diversify their portfolios, tap into high-value markets, and enjoy a sustainable stream of income. Horticulture crops not only provide the joy of nurturing and harvesting but also the promise of financial growth. So, when you consider investing in managed farmland, remember to read about what horticulture crops are, their importance, and other details mentioned in this article. They're not just plants; they're a gateway to a fruitful and prosperous investment journey.