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How to prepare Agriculture as an Optional subject for UPSC?

Agriculture is one of the optional papers for the UPSC mains exam. It’s not as popular as many subjects but it has a high chance of scoring good marks in exams. According to many candidates, it’s a safe subject to score well. Candidates from Zoology, Botany, and Agriculture can choose it for UPSC optional paper. It may be tough for the students from other backgrounds but with proper strategy and the right approach, candidates can clear the UPSC mains exam.

Here, In the article, we will discuss the syllabus of the Agriculture subject and the proper strategy of the subject for the UPSC mains exam.

Syllabus of Agriculture optional paper

Agriculture is considered as a technical subject and the candidates who have interest in farming and other agriculture activities, have a high chance of getting good marks.

Agriculture Paper I Syllabus

  1. Ecology
  • Ecology and its relevance to man
  • Natural resources, their sustainable management and conservation
  • Physical and social environment as factors of crop distribution and production
  • Agro ecology; cropping pattern as indicators of environments
  • Environmental pollution and associated hazards to crops, animals and humans
  • Climate change – International conventions and global initiatives
  • Greenhouse effect and global warming
  • Advanced tools for ecosystem analysis – Remote sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
  1. Agronomy
  • Cropping patterns in different agro-climatic zones of the country
  • Impact of high yielding and short-duration varieties on shifts in cropping patterns
  • Concepts of various cropping and farming systems.
  • Organic and Precision farming
  • Package of practices for production of important cereals, pulses, oil seeds, fibres, sugar, commercial and fodder crops
  1. Weed Science
  • Weeds – characteristics
  • Dissemination and association with various crops; their multiplications
  • Cultural, biological, and chemical control of weeds
  1. Forestry
  • Important features and scope
  • Various types of forestry plantations such as social forestry, agroforestry, and natural forests
  • Propagation of forest plants.
  • Forest products. Agro forestry and value addition
  • Conservation of forest flora and fauna
  1. Soil science and nutrient management
  • Soil- physical, chemical and biological properties
  • Processes and factors of soil formation.
  • Soils of India
  • Mineral and organic constituents of soils and their role in maintaining soil productivity.
  • Essential plant nutrients and other beneficial elements in soils and plants.
  • Principles of soil fertility, soil testing and fertilizer recommendations.
  • Integrated nutrient management
  • Biofertilizers
  • Losses of nitrogen in soil, nitrogen-use efficiency in submerged rice soils, nitrogen fixation in soils
  • Efficient phosphorus and potassium use
  • Problem soils and their reclamation.
  • Soil factors affecting greenhouse gas emission
  1. Soil and water conservation
  • Soil conservation
  • Integrated watershed management.
  • Soil erosion and its management. Dry land agriculture and its problems.
  • Technology for stabilizing agriculture production in rain fed areas.
  • Water-use efficiency in relation to crop production
  • Criteria for scheduling irrigations
  • Ways and means of reducing runoff losses of irrigation water.
  • Rainwater harvesting.
  • Drip and sprinkler irrigation.
  • Drainage of waterlogged soils
  • Quality of irrigation water
  • Effect of industrial effluents on soil and water pollution.
  • Irrigation projects in India
  1. Agricultural economics
  • Farm management, scope, importance and characteristics, farm planning.
  • Optimum resource use and budgeting.
  • Economics of different types of farming systems.
  • Marketing management – strategies for development, market intelligence.
  • Price fluctuations and their cost; role of cooperatives in agricultural economy
  • Types and systems of farming and factors affecting them.
  • Agricultural price policy.
  • Crop Insurance
  1. Agricultural extension
  • Agricultural extension, its importance and role
  • Methods of evaluation of extension programmes
  • Socio-economic survey and status of big, small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers.
  • Training programmes for extension workers
  • Role of Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s (KVK) in dissemination of Agricultural technologies.
  • Non Government Organization (NGO) and self-help group approach for rural development

Agriculture Paper II Syllabus

  1. Cell biology
  • Cell structure, function and cell cycle.
  • Synthesis, structure and function of genetic material.
  • Laws of heredity.
  • Chromosome structure, chromosomal aberrations
  • Linkage and cross-over, and their significance in recombination breeding.
  • Polyploidy, euploidy and aneuploidy.
  • Mutations – and their role in crop improvement.
  • Heritability, sterility and incompatibility, classification and their application in crop improvement.
  • Cytoplasmic inheritance, sex-linked, sex-influenced and sex-limited characters
  1. Plant breeding
  • History of plant breeding.
  • Modes of reproduction, selfing and crossing techniques.
  • Origin, evolution and domestication of crop plants, center of origin, law of homologous series, crop genetic resources conservation and utilization.
  • Application of principles of plant breeding, improvement of crop plants.
  • Molecular markers and their application in plant improvement.
  • Pure-line selection, pedigree, mass and recurrent selections, combining ability, its significance in plant breeding.
  • Heterosis and its exploitation.
  • Somatic hybridization.
  • Breeding for disease and pest resistance.
  • Role of interspecific and intergeneric hybridization.
  • Role of genetic engineering and biotechnology in crop improvement.
  • Genetically modified crop plants
  1. Seed production and technology
  • Production and processing technologies
  • Seed certification, seed testing and storage.
  • DNA fingerprinting and seed registration.
  • Role of public and private sectors in seed production and marketing.
  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues, WTO issues and its impact on Agriculture
  1. Plant physiology
  • Principles of Plant Physiology with reference to plant nutrition, absorption, translocation and metabolism of nutrients.
  • Soil – water- plant relationship.
  • Enzymes and plant pigments;
  • Photosynthesis- modern concepts and factors affecting.
  • C3, C4 and CAM mechanisms.
  • Factors affecting aerobic and anaerobic respiration
  • Carbohydrate, Protein and fat metabolism.
  • Growth and development; photoperiodism and vernalization.
  • Plant growth substances and their role in crop production.
  • Physiology of seed development and germination; dormancy.
  • Stress physiology – drought, salt and water stress
  1. Horticulture and landscape gardening
  • Diagnosis of pests and diseases of field crops, vegetables, orchard and plantation crops and their economic importance.
  • Classification of pests and diseases and their management.
  • Integrated pest and disease management.
  • Storage pests and their management.
  • Biological control of pests and diseases.
  • Epidemiology and forecasting of major crop pests and diseases.
  • Plant quarantine measures.
  • Pesticides, their formulation and modes of action
  1. Food production and nutrition management
  • Production and consumption trends in India
  • Food security and growing population
  • Reasons for grain surplus.
  • National and international food policies.
  • Production, procurement, distribution constraints.
  • Availability of food grains, per capita expenditure on food. Trends in poverty, Public Distribution System and Below Poverty Line population,
  • Targeted Public Distribution System (PDS), policy implementation in context to globalization.
  • Processing constraints.
  • Relation of food production to National Dietary Guidelines and food consumption pattern.
  • Food based dietary approaches to eliminate hunger.
  • Nutrient deficiency –
  1. Micro nutrient deficiency , Protein Energy Malnutrition or Protein Calorie Malnutrition (PEM or PCM),
  2. Micro nutrient deficiency and HRD in context of work capacity of women and children.
  • Food grain productivity and food security

Preparation of Agriculture optional paper for UPSC

Syllabus of the Agriculture subject is not so long. It can be prepared easily. Syllabus has many similar topics of botany and zoology so the candidate of these subjects can prepare and manage it easily.

Here are some tips about preparation strategy for agriculture.

1. Understand the syllabus

First important thing that is important for the preparation of optional subjects is understanding the syllabus. Syllabus of the agriculture subject is short. Understand it well before preparation. You can make a proper strategy when you understand the syllabus well. Basic knowledge of syllabus is important for preparation. Botany and zoology students can find similar topics in agriculture.

2. Clear the concept

After understanding the syllabus, select the topic one by one and study. Understand the concept of the topics. When you don’t understand the topic, it can not be remembered for so long. Candidates need dedication and hard work for scoring well. By getting good marks in optional papers, there is a chance to maintain high rank in UPSC

3. Study material

Select the best study material for preparation. Don’t study with too many books. It will confuse you in examination. Choose books with good writers. Keep selected books for preparation. Legacy IAS Academy Bangalore is the best IAS academy in India which provides best study material for optional subject papers. They have well planned study material which helps in preparation.

4. Prepare notes

Prepare the best notes for preparation. Notes help you to remember important topics. Self made notes are the best for preparation. Prepare notes of both the papers separately. Notes help you to read any particular topic when you want to study. Preparing notes doesn’t mean writing everything, notes should be the extract of the syllabus.

5. Previous year question papers

Solve previous year question question papers as many as you can solve. Previous year question papers help to understand the pattern of the exam. There are many repeated questions you can find in previous years papers. Students can differentiate the important question as well. After an analysis of the past year question papers, you can prepare better for mains exams.

6. Answer writing practice

One of the most important parts of the UPSC mains exam is answer writing practice. By regular answer writing, you can secure good marks. The candidate should answer in the most creative way. Answers that grab attention, get good marks. Write your answer by using quotations. Use of headings and subheadings are also an important aspect of an answer. To write a good answer, it’s important to practice regularly.

Advantages of taking Agriculture as an optional paper for UPSC

1. Short syllabus

Though agriculture is not a popular subject in UPSC Mains exam,the biggest advantage of choosing agriculture is the syllabus. It has a short syllabus and can be prepared in 3-4 months. With the right approach there is a chance to score high marks in UPSC mains exam.

2. Overlapping with GS syllabus

There is an extra advantage of choosing Agriculture as optional is that the syllabus of agriculture subject is that the syllabus of Agriculture is aligned with the syllabus of GS. Some topics from GS can be covered while preparing for agriculture. So, opting Agriculture can be a good choice in terms of covering the syllabus of GS.

3. A scoring subject

Agriculture is a scoring subject. It contains figures, graphs and tables which lead to full marks if you write answers correctly. If you are good at sketching and drawing you can have a good chance to score well. So, it is beneficial to opt agriculture to score good in UPSC IAS exam.

4. Similarity with botany and zoology

Another advantage to opt Agriculture is that it is similar to Botany and Zoology. If you studied Botany or Zoology earlier then it can be beneficial for you to opt Agriculture.

Reference books for Agriculture optional paper

  1. Fundamentals Of Agricultural Extension Education by U Barman
  2. A Text Book of Agricultural Statistics R. Rangaswamy
  3. Agronomy – Yellamanda Reddy
  4. Entomology – Vasantha Raj & David
  5. Genetics- B.D.Singh
  6. Handbook Of Agriculture -ICAR
  7. Introduction To Horticulture – Kumar
  8. Physiology – Pandey & Singha
  9. Plant Breeding -B.D. Singh
  10. Soil Science – D.K Das Or Brady
  11. The Hindu- Survey Of Indian Agriculture

Therefore, agriculture optional can be a good choice for the UPSC IAS exam. The right approach can lead to a good score in the UPSC IAS exam. Agriculture can boost your score for the final exam and help to increase your score in the final main exam.

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