Agriculture is the production of food, feed, fiber and other goods through farming and forestry. It is the science, art, and business of cultivating the ground, including the harvesting of crops, and the rearing and management of livestock; tillage; husbandry. It is a systematic and controlled use of living organisms and the environment to improve the human condition.
Over the years, agriculture has evolved and expanded vastly with the introduction of new technologies and techniques. Adaptation to changes and the constant search for improvement and more efficient practices have played a great role in the advancement and growth in this part of the economic sector.
New technological breakthroughs and shifts in agricultural practices led to more intensive research, making several methods and best practices available for thriving farmers and businesses.
Here are a few good tips and techniques which have been proven to be effective and rewarding to currently practicing farmers and agricultural groups.
 Crop production tips
 Five Things to Remember in Corn Production
The following are the five key technologies one should remember in pursuit of better profitability in corn:
- Seed selection – choose the best adapted hybrid for your area and your needs.
- Plant population – ensure proper planting distance; each hybrid you choose has specific recommended planting distance or seeding rate.
- Balanced fertilization – follow the recommended fertilization rate for your field; even better would be soil analysis for your field.
- Pest control – timely and effective control or management of diseases, insect pests, and weeds; you get to know them.
- Water management – take note of the critical stages where your corn needs the most water and where it is most sensitive to water stress.
 Tips in Selecting the Best Corn Hybrid
A farmer needs to spend time evaluating the quality of his previous corn crops and think of possible ways to improve and maximize harvest in the next season. The following are a few helpful tips in selecting the corn hybrid:
- Check yield consistency across locations and over years. Stability in yield is very important in choosing hybrids since the environment is more significant than individual management practices. For sure, this year’s growing season won’t be the same as last year. Such seasonal differences will surely surprise growers who rely so much on limited observations. However, in selecting a hybrid, take note that possession of a particular trait, such as big ears, many kernel rows, deep kernels, prolificacy, or upright leaves do not ensure high yields. Instead, look for stability in performance across environments.
- Know your hybrid’s maturity. If you planted late in the dry season, select an early-maturing hybrid so you could avoid the rains during the harvesting and drying period. With full season hybrids, physiological maturity or “black layer” formation will be late resulting in inadequate kernel maturity, wet grains (high moisture), and challenging and costly post-harvest environment at the onset of the wet season. Generally, full season hybrids (>110 days) usually outyield early maturing ones. However, recently developed short maturing hybrids can produce the same yield as the full season types. It is best therefore to take a look at your chosen hybrid’s maturity profile from brochures, flyers, and even from agronomists assigned in your area.
- Take advantage of new genetics. It has always been proven that new elite genetics will outperform the old ones. Current hybrids in the market are more tolerant to diseases, high density planting, and even drought.
- Use hybrids with good agronomics. By these we mean good tolerance to various environmental stresses in the form of diseases, insect pests, and strong winds. Likewise critical is the standability or the ability of the roots and stalks to withstand high winds. High incidence of lodging will definitely slow down harvest and decrease yield in both quantity and quality. Things to check for can be thick stalk rind (genetic stalk strength plant height), ear placement, and resistance to stalk diseases.
- Plant only high-quality seeds with excellent emergence potential. Make sure to get your seeds from companies that strive for excellent seed quality and after-sales customer service.
- Know you target market. Tall, leafy hybrids can be an ideal choice for the silage market while those targeting feed millers should rely on hybrids with good protein levels. For processing, oil and starch content will be important. In Mindanao, white corn grits generally command a better price than yellow grains and has good consumer base. Hence, pay attention to the kind of market you want and adjust your hybrid choices accordingly.
- Talk to your local Pioneer representative about performance data and other selection criteria. Because weather conditions are unpredictable the reliable way to select hybrids is to consider performance (from company trials) last year and this year over a wide range of environments and locations. Don’t rely too heavily on on farm strip tests or on just one trial location because it cannot predict hybrid performance in different conditions. On-farm trials however can be useful in getting certain traits evaluated such as harvestability (ease of harvesting). grain quality, disease resistance, and lodging tolerance.
Additional information can also be obtained from your agronomist regarding the need for insect resistance (corn) and new weed management options (glyphosate-tolerant corn) in your area depending on what time of the year.
You can also consult for other minor considerations before you purchase. These may include certain management interactions with your hybrid corn from plant population, tillage, soil fertility, crop rotation, etc.
 Tips in Planting Hybrid Rice
Here are a few helpful tips in planting hybrid rice :
- Seed and Seedbed preparation - for every 2 kg of seeds, prepare 40 m2 seedbed. Each bed must be about 1m wide, of any length, and raised to a height of 4 to 5 cm. Soak the seeds for about 12 to 24 hours in clean water until these have swelled. Some seeds will float. Do not remove them. Change the water every 5 to 6 hours. Then drain the water and incubate them for 24 to 36 hours until a white dot comes out from the seeds. After preparing the seedbed, apply 1 to 1.5 bags of organic materials for every 40 m2 seedbed. Once the seedbed is prepared, sow 20 kg of pre-germinated hybrid seeds at a rate of 50g for every square meter.
- Transplanting - this method only requires 20 kg of hybrid rice seeds per hectare. Transplant 21 to 25 day-old seedlings at 1 to 2 seedings/hill. Plant at a distance of 20 cm x 20 cm during wet season. Replant missing hills within 7 days after transplanting.
- Irrigation - maintain soil saturation within 1 week after transplanting. Gradually raise the water level to about 2 to 3 cm at tillering stage. Later, achieve 3 to 5 cm water depth every irrigation time until 1 to 2 weeks before harvest. Drain standing water(if any) 1 week before the expected harvest for easy harvesting and grain quality preservation.
- Fertilizer application - for basal, apply 4 to 6 bags of 14-14-14 depending on the results of soil analysis or minus one element technique. If K is deficient in a sandy loam soil, apply half bag of muriate of potash (0-0-60) at panicle initiation. If both N and K are needed at panicle initiation, apply 2 bags of 17-0-17 per hectare. Otherwise, apply N and K fertilizer separately. Spray 0-0-60 for three times starting at 50% heading then every other day at a rate of 2 kg/ha per tank load of knapsack. Twelve tank loads of knapsack sprayer will be used in a hectare of ricefield. A total of 6 kg 0-0-60 will be used for the entire spraying time.
- Harvesting - harvest the crop when 80 to 85% of the grains are clear, firm and straw-colored even if the rest are still in hard dough stage.
 Tips in Storing Fresh Tomatoes
Tomatoes can be kept field fresh for a period of three weeks without using cold storage.
One economical alternative is to use the Evaporative Cooling and Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP) Technology which prolongs the storage life of fresh tomatoes under ordinary condition using coco coir dust, polyethylene (PE) plastic packaging and a suitable crate or container.
Tomatoes to be stored must be green, firm and free from injury and mechanical damage to maximize the benefits of this technology. Otherwise, storage period will be shorter than what is expected.
- Wash the tomatoes in water with chlorox (1 tablespoon of chlorox for every 1 liter of water) to disinfect the fruits from pathogenic microorganisms.
- Dry the tomatoes and pack in PE bags with 2 pinpricks per kilogram of tomatoes.
- Moisten the coir dust with chlorox-mixed water and line the base of the container with this.
- Place the packed tomatoes in the middle and cover with moist coir dust. It is recommended that a kilo of coir dust be used per kilo of tomatoes.
How does this technology work for tomato plants? The PE bag modifies the tomato surrounding by decreasing oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide. These delay ripening and discoloration of the peel, reduce weight loss and moisture loss, and reduce in injuries from chilling. The cooling effect of moist coir dust, on one hand, also delays ripening of tomato.
 Livestock production tips
 Helpful Tips in Choosing a Livestock Shelter
Most livestock can usually handle rainy, windy or cold temperatures. But if you live in a climate where snow falls and temperatures plummet in the winter, you need to provide your animals protection from harsh weather.
A three-sided shed is a great way to give animals protection and is far less expensive than an enclosed barn. To help you choose the best shelter for your critters, keep some of these criteria in mind:
- Consider placement. Choose well drained, high ground to prevent the floor from flooding or turning into a mud pit. Face the shelter away from prevailing winds. Also consider snow drifting patterns as you don't want your shed buried in a snowdrift.
- Consider shed size. Determine what kind of animals will use the shed and give each animal a space about four times their body size. A shelter that's too small will allow an aggressive lead animal to force the rest of the herd to stand out into the cold. Choose a shelter large enough that you have room to add panels to make a stall if needed. If you have a sick or injured animal they will need to be separated from the other livestock.
- Proper ventilation. Cover the openings with carpet or other heavy fabric in regions of extreme cold. Be sure the livestock can push through it to enter or exit and that it doesn't completely reduce airflow. Ventilation is critical for allowing fresh air inside the shelter while allowing harmful gases to escape.
 Producing Your Own Probiotics
Probiotics are dietary supplements and live microorganisms containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts. These are ‘Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’.
- 1/4 kg broken rice (binlud)
- 1 kg brown sugar or molasses
- Cooking pot
- Shallow tray
- Old newspapers
- Straws for tying
- Wide mouth bottles (for storing)
- Cook porridge out of broken rice. Cool and spread on shallow tray about 1 inch thick.
- Cover the tray with newspaper and lightly tie it with straw to prevent insects from crawling in.
- Place the tray in shady portion of kitchen or in nearby bamboo clump or trees.
- After five to seven days, remove the porridge and place in wide mouth container. Add molasses or brown sugar and mix thoroughly. Keep it lightly covered for three to five days. Use it only for two months. By then, the beneficial organisms may become dormant.
For chickens, turkeys and ducks: Add 1 teaspoon of IMO to I liter clean water and give to chicken everyday. This can be used also for watering plants and soil in the afternoon.
For pigs, goat, sheep, and cattle: Give two tablespoons per 25 kg body weight. Mix in either wet or dry feeds both for morning and afternoon feeding.
For plants: Add 100-250 ml IMO per 16 liters of water and use as blanket spray on soil every week to activate beneficial bacteria in the soil. Add 50 ml IMO to herbal mixture of pounded leaves of garlic vine, onions, garlic, and other aromatic leaves to activate beneficial bacteria in plants.
 Other agriculture tips
- Swamp soil as fertilizer. One ton (1,000 kilos) of dry peat — a mixture of soil and organic matter found mostly in swampy areas — can supply as much as 40 kilos each of the major plant foods, or equivalent to two bags of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0 NPK). Peat is black in color and weighs relatively light.
- Egg shells as fertilizers. Eggshells can be used as fertilizers. They contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur which makes plants robust and vigorous.
- Reduce soil erosion by using conservation practices and other applicable best management practices.
- Use planned grazing systems on pasture and rangeland.
 See also
- More about Agriculture