Agriculture is one of the 48 optional subjects on the UPSC optional subject list. The UPSC Agriculture syllabus emphasises aspirants’ proficiency to understand the subject as science and correlate what they’ve discovered to real-world challenges. Each of the IAS Agriculture Optional papers is worth 250 points, for a total of 500 points. In the IAS Exam, there are nine papers in the mains.

Agriculture, on the other hand, is a technical subject that requires prior knowledge or experience before you may pursue it as a hobby. Read the full article to know the full syllabus of agriculture.

Paper 1: Agriculture Optional Syllabus for UPSC

Optional Subject consists of 2 papers. Each paper is of 250 marks, making a total of 500 marks.

#Ecology and its relevance to man, natural resources, their sustainable management and conservation. Physical and social environment as factors of crop distribution and production. Agroecology; 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).


#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, oilseeds, fibres, sugar, commercial and fodder crops.

#Important features and scope of various types of forestry plantations such as social forestry, agroforestry, and natural forests.

#Propagation of forest plants. Forest products. Agroforestry and value addition. #Conservation of forest flora and fauna.


#Weeds, their characteristics, dissemination and association with various crops; their multiplications; cultural, biological, and chemical control of weeds.

#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 the 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 emissions.


#Soil conservation, integrated watershed management. Soil erosion and its management. Dryland agriculture and its problems. Technology for stabilizing agriculture production in rainfed areas.

#Water-use efficiency in relation to crop production, criteria for scheduling irrigations, ways and means of reducing run-off losses of irrigation water. Rainwater harvesting. #Drip and sprinkler irrigation. Drainage of waterlogged soils, quality of irrigation water, the effect of industrial effluents on soil and water pollution. Irrigation projects in India. 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; the role of cooperatives in agricultural economy; types and systems of farming and factors affecting them. Agricultural price policy. Crop Insurance.

#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 the dissemination of Agricultural technologies. Non-Government Organization (NGO) and self-help group approach for rural development.

Also Read: Best Optional Subjects in UPSC: Guide to Choose Most Scoring Non-technical Subjects

Paper 2: Agriculture Optional Syllabus for UPSC

#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.


#History of plant breeding. Modes of reproduction, selfing and crossing techniques. #Origin, evolution and domestication of crop plants, the centre 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 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. 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 the process, aerobic and anaerobic respiration; C3, C4 and CAM mechanisms. 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 – draught, salt and water stress.


#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.


#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 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 – Micronutrient deficiency: Protein Energy Malnutrition or Protein Calorie Malnutrition (PEM or PCM), Micronutrient deficiency and HRD in context of work capacity of women and children. Food grain productivity and food security.

Also Read: A Detailed Guide to Choosing the Best Optional Subject for UPSC Exam

Booklist for Optional Subject: Agriculture

Given below is the booklist of the agriculture optional subject

#Agricultural Economics and Farm Management  

#Soil Science – D.K Das or Brady  

#Agronomy by Yellamanda Reddy

#Plant Breeding by B.D. Singh

#Genetics by B.D.Singh

#Physiology by Pandey & Singha  

#Introduction to Horticulture – Kumar  

#Handbook of Agriculture by ICAR

#Agricultural Extension Education in India  

#Pathology – Singh  

#Entomology – Vasantha Raj & David

#The Hindu – Survey of Indian Agriculture

#Agriculture Statistics – Dept. of Agri. and coop. statistics at a glance 

#Special Issue of Agriculture by The Hindu

Also Read: Which Book Source is Required for Agriculture in the UPSC Exam? Here’s All You should Know

Tips for Agriculture Subject

Here are some quick tips for the agriculture subject

#Candidates should have a strong understanding of the Agriculture Option’s syllabus. Paper II requires candidates to have a basic understanding of agricultural principles.

#While preparing, draw diagrams, short notes, and flowcharts to make revising much easier.

#Aspirants should think about the economic aspects as well as the long-term sustainability.

#Candidates should stay up to date on the most recent government data on farm-related statistics, which can be found on the agriculture ministry’s website and in the Economic Survey.

#Attempting to solve past UPSC Mains question papers is the most significant component of UPSC Exam preparation.

Also Read: Farmers Bill 2020 Explained: Things to Know for UPSC IAS Exam Preparation

Agriculture Optional Previous Years’ Toppers

These are the previous year toppers of agriculture optional subject

Name Year Rank
Preeti Maithil 2008 92
Anoop Shetty 2012 140
Pallavi Sarkar 2016 293
Yatish V. Deshmukh 2017 159
Vikrant More 2017 430
Amit Shinde 2017 705
Sushil Kumar 2018 106
Chandrashekhar Shankar Singh Pardeshi 2017 59
Rushikesh Reddy 2020 95

Agriculture Optional Success Rate

This is the latest success rate of agriculture optional subject which is given in the annual report of UPSC.

Year No.of aspirants No of the aspirants cleared Success Rate
2005 157 25 15.9
2006 180 19 10.6
2007 226 15 6.6
2008 220 41 18.6
2009 180 19 10.6
2010 205 3 1.5
2011 132 16 12.1
2012 122 20 16.4
2013 77 7 9.1
2014 65 7 10.8
2015 86 11 12.8
2016 220 41 18.6
2017 89 11 12.4

Hopefully, this article was helpful to all the aspirants. One should choose their optional subject wisely because that will have a great effect on your marks and rank. The agriculture optional is mainly preferred by the medical and Bsc students who opted for agriculture. One should choose the optional subject based on the field of interest and the knowledge one has about it. So, choose wisely and prepare for the exam. All the best!

Also Read: UPSC Exam Paper Pattern: UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam Pattern

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Agriculture Optional Syllabus for UPSC: Here’s the Detail You were Looking For!
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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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