Unscientific soil and crop management practices followed by farmers for many years took a heavy toll on the soil's health condition.
“Fertility loss and related nutritional problems pose a major challenge, next only to pests and diseases today.
“A healthy soil, proper environment, and balanced nutrients are the basic necessities for a good yield,” says Dr. V.A. Parthasarathy, Director, Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode, Kerala.
Three main elements
Plants mainly need three elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in higher quantities , besides thirteen elements such as calcium(Ca), sulfur (S),magnesium (Mg), boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) selenium (Se),sodium (Na) and silicon (Si) in small quantities for optimizing their growth.
The availability of an element in less than the minimum quantity in the soil cripples crop growth and makes it more vulnerable to pest and diseases. Presence of these elements in higher doses in soils can also lead to plant toxicity.
“Farmers must ensure the availability of all essential elements in balanced proportions in soil, and keep its pH (measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil) most congenial to a crop for sustainable production” says Dr. Parthasarathy. Farmers cannot grow crops successfully in poor soil. They must be aware of the importance of maintaining soil health for reaping good yields. A scientists' team at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), IISR, Kozhikode, took the lead in issuing soil health cards to several farmers in the region.
They collected soil samples from several fields for making soil health cards, analyzed them critically in the laboratory, and printed the details of the farmers and the field in a form.
The card aims at scientific fertilization of soil to obtain optimum produce from limited holdings. It also gives a farmer the basic details of the soil from different locations in his farmland.
It also suggests the most suitable crop that can be grown on their land, depending on the fertility and other chemical and organic features of the soil.
“It contains all vital information on the present soil health status including fertility, acid content, level of micro and macro nutrients, and the recommended fertilizer application schedule for all major crops grown in a farmer's field,” explains Dr. Parthasarathy.
Scientists are planning to charge a nominal fee of Rs. 20 for each farmer in future.
Need for awareness
“We need to create awareness among the farmers on the importance of the soil health cards through continuous mass campaigning and we decided to issue soil health cards to all the farmers in the district of Kozhikode as early as possible,” says Dr. P. A. Mathew, Head, IISR Experimental Farm at Peruvannamuzhi.
A soil fertility map of Kozhikode district is also being prepared by the Institute to help farmers procure the right fertilizers and choose suitable crops to increase productivity.
“Already steps are being initiated for the preparation of soil fertility maps for easy identification of soil fertility of different regions,” says Dr. Mathew.
The district level map to be prepared after compiling the data from various villages will be marked in various colours. Often farmers use fertilizers in excess not being aware about the quality of their land and thus end up damaging the soil fertility and wasting fertilizers.
With the help of the soil card, farmers can know their soil conditions better and also about what suitable crops to be grown.
For more details contact readers can contact the programme co-ordinator, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Peruvannamuzhi, Kozhikode district, Kerala, email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 0496-2662372.