Tiruchirapalli

Distillery waste helps improve soil health, agricultural productivity

S. Pandiyarajan, right, Professor and Head, Deapartment of Crop Management, TNAU - Anbil Dharmalingam Agricultural College and Research Institute, explaining the improvement in quality of sodic soil to the farmers of Manikandam on Monday... Photo: R. Ashok

S. Pandiyarajan, right, Professor and Head, Deapartment of Crop Management, TNAU - Anbil Dharmalingam Agricultural College and Research Institute, explaining the improvement in quality of sodic soil to the farmers of Manikandam on Monday... Photo: R. Ashok   | Photo Credit: R_ASHOK

The use of spent wash, considered a waste product from the distillery factories, has helped bring down the sodic or alkaline nature of the soil in Manikandam block in the district, thereby increasing agricultural productivity.

Manikandam is the only block in the State with the largest area of sodic or alkaline soil on 4,598 hectares, forcing the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, decades ago, to establish an exclusive college – Anbil Dharmalingam Agricultural College and Research Institute, to take up research programmes for evolving paddy varieties suited to the condition.

The college, after experiments and researches, had since released three varieties of paddy and, around 2006, it evolved a strategy for the application of spent wash on the alkaline soil. The college entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Tiruchi Distilleries and Chemicals Limited, which supplies the spent wash.

“We identified 13,414 acres of area in the entire block as suitable for the use of the spent wash and have covered 6,934 acres, during the three years ending 2008,” says V. Jayabal, Dean of the college.

The college recently took up a study on the various factors particularly the ‘pH level', ‘organic carbon' and ‘electrical conductivity' of the soil of all the fields where spent wash was used between 2006 and 2008. “We conducted experiments on three stages of the soil-first before the application of spent wash; next, after its application but before the paddy was raised; and finally after the harvest was completed. We collected 933 samples – 311 during each experiment,” says P. Pandiyarajan, Professor and Head, Crop Management of the college.

The ‘pH level' in the area had come down from its high 9.2 to the permissible 6.09, indicating that the soil was fertile enough for raising paddy or other crops. The ‘organic carbon' and ‘electrical conductivity' too registered a fair improvement.

“In the three years between 2006 and 208, the distilleries had supplied spent wash totalling 3,19,633 kilo litres to 6,934 acres, benefiting 1,049 farmers,” says Dr. Jayabal. The per-acre yield has increased for various crops. The yield from CO-43 paddy which stood at just 2,100 kg till 2005 has shot up to 2,750 kg; the yield from TRY-I variety had increased from 1,950 kg to 2,600 kg. In the case of groundnut, the yield has gone up from 120 kg to 200 kg, Dr. Jayabal said.

The college has plans to extend the area of application of spent wash to other fields. Meanwhile, a number of farmers have been visiting the college seeking assistance for improvement in their sodic fields. A farmer, R. Kandasamy of Somarasampettai who inspected the high quality at the college, said that his soil was very hard because of high pH level. “My soil is rock-like in nature ,” he said.



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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 2:11:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/distillery-waste-helps-improve-soil-health-agricultural-productivity/article2160920.ece

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