Cheap, effective: At present India produces about 6.25 to 8 million tonnes of poultry manure annually.

A GOOD and fertile soil is often compared to a womb. Often farmers do not realize that a soil with poor fertility and poor yield are directly linked.

“Except a few, there are many farmers in the country who do not show interest in testing their soil for micronutrient deficiencies.

In general, farmers apply micronutrients only when crops show deficiency symptoms, while micronutrient deficiencies decrease yields before symptoms appear,” says Prof. D. Narahari, formerHead, Poultry Science, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai.

Several research

“Based on several research works and surveys, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have stated that enriching the soils with micronutrients, by using organic fertilizers, not only impacts plant deficiencies, but also on humans and animals, through the food chain,” says Prof. Narahari.

Even in the case of those who use chemical fertilizers and sprays, farmyard manure or vermicompost forms the basic input for their fields before sowing and is a long standing practice.

Soil rejuvenation

For centuries now,farmers accept that organic manures of cattle, poultry and green leaves wastes (mulching) rejuvenates their soil physically, chemically, and biologically.

“Farmers in developed countries are now more aware and are switching over to organic manures resulting in more than 10 per cent drop in chemical fertilizer production.

On the contrary, we in India are ignoring the benefits of organic fertilizers and importing huge quantities of chemical fertilizers,” says Prof. Narahari.

Confined to pockets

Though cattle compost manure is known to our farmers not many are familiar with poultry manure; because modern poultry farms have emerged in India just four decades back, though confined to a few pockets.

Most crops, especially paddy, sugar cane, plantation crops, floriculture and horticultural crops respond well to poultry manure.

However, it is not that advisable for leguminous crops. Crops absorb the nitrogen in poultry manure similar to urea.

So they need lower doses and proper irrigation.

Cage manure

According to Prof Narahari, for best results apply deep litter poultry manure at half to one third doses and cage manure at one third to one fourth doses of the cattle manure and water the crop immediately.

The poultry manure can be pelletized and packed in 5-25kg capacity bags, as in the case of developed countries, for use in home gardens and nurseries.

Farmers with farms close to poultry farms use poultry manure regularly for their crops, with good returns.

Poultry manure is a more concentrated source of crop nutrients, especially NPK and calcium. Being naturally organic, it does not need composting and can be applied directly to the fields from the farm.

“The fertilizer value of one tonne of dried cage poultry manure is equivalent to 100 kg urea, 150kg super phosphate, 50kg potash, 125kg calcium carbonate, 30 kg sulphur, 12 kg sodium chloride, 10kg magnesium sulphate, 5kg ferrous sulphate, 1kg manganese sulphate, zinc sulphate and other trace minerals each and is available at a cheaper rate than other market available inputs,” explains Prof. Narahari.

Foreign exchange

At present India produces about 6.25 and 8.0 million tonnes of poultry manure, sufficient to fertilize about 3.56 million hectares of land annually, if properly utilized it can help save billions of foreign exchange, by replacing huge imports of chemical fertilizers.

For more information, contact Prof. D. Narahari, former Professor and Head, Poultry Science, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal sciences University, Chennai, email: narahari.devareddy@gmail.com, mobile: 94448-10639.