Customised fertilisers and acidity management are a must for improved crop production in a land-scarce state such as Kerala, recommended the Kerala State Planning Board after the analysis of the massive multiinstitutional project on soil fertility.
The final results and recommendations of the project, that was initiated in 2010 by the Department of Agriculture under the coordination of the State Planning Board and active support of 27 analytical laboratories and 13 institutions, was published as a book titled ‘Soil Fertility Assessment and Information Management for Enhancing Crop Productivity in Kerala’, a unique technical document.
While on the one side the available data shows a drastic reduction in fertiliser use because of price-hike, on the other side there has been an indiscriminate use of nitrogenous fertilisers in the state.
Scientific studies had shown that application of more nitrogenous fertilisers with reduced application of potassic fertilisers could make the plants more vulnerable to pest attack, diseases, drought and other adverse conditions.
“There has to be a more efficient use of fertilisers taking into account the nutrient status of the soil, the needs of the particular crop, the season and the climate.
Customised fertilisers are soil specific, crop specific and area specific,” P Rajasekharan, chief of Agriculture, Kerala State Planning Board, said.
The state is experiencing widespread deficiency of micronutrients and secondary nutrients particularly boron, magnesium and calcium.
While there is huge load of phosphorous in the soil, the deficiency of boron is significant and extensive.
“There exits a need to address the issue of excess nutrients on one hand and nutrient deficiency on the other, as well as to ensure timely supply of fertiliser materials to the farmers, with appropriate institutional mechanism,” the report said.
“These fertilisers are formulated on the basis of soil testing and multi-locational agronomic trials.
They, besides carrying the major nutrients, also contain secondary nutrients as well as micronutrients. Steps have to be taken to develop and promote customised and fortified fertilisers,” he further explained.
While soil testing to meet the demands of all the farmers is not immediately possible, nutrient management plans for each panchayat could serve as guidelines for agricultural officers to identify the major soil fertility constraints of the area and help the farmers.