Agriculture Optional Syllabus

Agriculture Optional Syllabus for UPSC CSE Exam

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has released the Agriculture Optional Syllabus for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Mains Examination. The syllabus covers topics such as land reform, agricultural development, farm mechanization, irrigation and drainage, animal husbandry, marketing of agricultural produce, export promotion and so on. Candidates who wish to apply for the IAS examination must first qualify in the Civil Services Examination (CSE).

UPSC: Agriculture is one of the 48 optional subjects offered by the UPSC. In this article, we have provided the detailed syllabus of Agriculture optional for the UPSC IAS Mains exam 2020.

The UPSC: The Agriculture optional syllabus for the UPSC Mains exam is designed in a way to test the candidates’ ability to understand the subject as science and apply the knowledge to solve problems of rural people. A major part of the syllabus relates to problems faced by farmers in India. Candidates with a farming background or undergraduates in agriculture studies have an edge to ace this optional exam. The UPSC Mains Optional papers are of 250 marks each with a total of 500 marks. In this article, we provide you with the detailed UPSC syllabus for Agriculture optional for the UPSC IAS Mains 2022 exams.

UPSC Syllabus for Agriculture Optional Topics
UPSC Agriculture Syllabus Paper 1
  1. Ecology
  2. Agronomy
  3. Weed science
  4. Forestry
  5. Soil science and nutrient management
  6. Soil and water conservation
  7. Agricultural economics
  8. Agricultural extension
UPSC Agriculture Syllabus Paper 2
  1. Cell biology
  2. Plant breeding
  3. Seed production and technology
  4. Plant physiology
  5. Horticulture and landscape gardening
  6. Plant protection techniques
  7. Food production and nutrition management


Syllabus of Agriculture Optional For UPSC CSE Mains 2022

Syllabus for Agriculture Optional Paper- I


  • 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

  • Green house effect and global warming

  • Advance tools for ecosystem analysis – Remote sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).


  • 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

Weed science

  • Weeds – characteristics

  • Dissemination and association with various crops; their multiplications

  • Cultural, biological, and chemical control of weeds


  • Important features and scope

  • Various types of forestry plantations such as social forestry, agro-forestry, and natural forests

  • Propagation of forest plants.

  • Forest products. Agro forestry and value addition

  • Conservation of forest flora and fauna

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

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

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 co-operatives in agricultural economy

  • Types and systems of farming and factors affecting them.

  • Agricultural price policy.

  • Crop Insurance

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.

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, euploids and aneuploids.

  • 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

Plant breeding

  • History of plant breeding.

  • Modes of reproduction, selfing and crossing techniques.

  • Origin, evolution, and domestication of crop plants, center of origin, the 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

Seed production and technology

  • Seed 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.

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 vernalilzation.

  • Plant growth substances and their role in crop production.

  • Physiology of seed development and germination; dormancy.

  • Stress physiology – drought, salt and water stress.

Horticulture and landscape gardening

  • Major fruits, plantation crops, vegetables, spices and flower crops

  • Package practices of major horticultural crops.

  • Protected cultivation and high tech horticulture.

  • Post harvest technology and value addition of fruits and vegetables

  • Landscaping and commercial floriculture.

  • Medicinal and aromatic plants.

  • Role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition.

Plant protection techniques

  • 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

Food production and nutrition management

  • Food production and consumption trends in India

  • Food security and growing population – vision 2020.

  • 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 –

    • Micro nutrient deficiency , Protein Energy Malnutrition or Protein Calorie Malnutrition (PEM or PCM),

    • Micro nutrient deficiency and HRD in context of work capacity of women and children.

  • Food grain productivity and food security.


Important Topics To Study For UPSC Agriculture Optional

Here is a list of some of the important areas that candidates need to focus to score high in this optional subject:

Ecology: Some of the important topics from this section are environmental pollution, agro-ecosystem, and its impact on crop productivity. Questions from this topic are repeatedly asked in the exam. Hence, prepare standard answers, gather insightful data to enrich your answers as well as add value to the answer by drawing relevant pictures.

Agronomy: Some of the important topics that are repeatedly asked from this section include cropping patterns in different agro-climatic zones of the country; Impact of high yielding and short-duration varieties on shifts in cropping patterns; and organic and precision farming.
Soil science and nutrient management: Repeatedly, questions from certain topics like nitrogen-use efficiency in submerged rice soils; organic constituents of soil; saline, and alkaline soils (problematic soil) are asked. Hence, prepare them well and refer multiple resources to form a resourceful answer!

Soil and water conservation: A large part of the syllabus is similar to the syllabus of GS-II. Hence, you can use similar resources to answer the questions asked in this section. Largely, questions from soil erosion are asked. Prepare and practice relevant drawings to get some extra marks.
Agriculture economics & agriculture economics: Mostly, current-affairs based questions are asked from this section, hence keep a tab on monthly current affairs. Make notes from relevant editorials as well as magazine articles to add important points to the answers asked from this section.

Cell biology: If you’ve done your graduation from Agriculture, then this will be the easiest section to cover in Agriculture optional syllabus. Use your graduation notes to cover this section as extremely easy and static questions are asked from this topic.
Plant breeding and Plant physiology: Some of the books that you may refer to cover this section includes Fundamentals of Plant Physiology’ by VK Jain or ‘Plant Physiology’ by Sinha and Pandey and ‘Plant Breeding Principles and Methods’ by BD Singh or ‘Essentials of Plant Breeding’ by Phundan Singh.

Seed production and technology: This is one of the easiest sections in the syllabus and current affairs based questions are asked from it. Hence, make specific notes from newspapers and magazine articles for covering this section.

Food production and nutrition management: The syllabus for this section again overlaps with GS-III paper. Hence, similar practices may be used to ace this section. Repeated questions from topics like nutrition deficiencies and protein malnutrition are asked. Include important examples and supplement your answer with insightful data.

Booklist for UPSC Agriculture Optional Syllabus

Some of the books by which you can prepare for the UPSC Agriculture Optional Syllabus are given below.

Important Books  Publisher Name 
Fundamentals Of Agricultural Extension Education U Barman
A TextBook of Agricultural Statistics R. Rangaswamy
Agronomy Yellamanda Reddy
Entomology Vasantha Raj & David
Genetics B.D.Singh
Handbook Of Agriculture ICAR
Introduction To Horticulture Kumar
Physiology Pandey & Singha
Plant Breeding B.D. Singh


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