Poor, degraded soil hampers paddy growth in Punjab
CHANDIGARH: Punjab has been Indian’s food basket since the beginning of the Green Revolution, but that may change soon. Not just the depleting water table, but also the rapidly degrading soil quality has made paddy cultivation unviable for farmers in the state.
The excessive use of fertilizers has rendered the soil in several districts of the state unsuitable for growing paddy. According to the latest report of the soil survey division of the department of soil and water conservation, survey carried out in Moga, Barnala, SBS Nagar, SAS Nagar, Fategarh Sahib, Patiala and Sangrur districts showed severe soil degradation due to wheat and paddy cropping pattern introduced in the state during the Green Revolution.
“Due to over-exploitation and excessive use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides, the soil has degraded, which has led to further decrease in water holding capacity of the soil and its friable and loose structure of soil. The farmers, in order to increase the yields, are pumping in more nitrogen and phosphorous into the soil, leading to further degradation. The soil is suitable for growing wheat, groundnuts, soybean and vegetables but not rice,” said an official of the soil and water conservation department.
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Now, all the 12,400 villages in the state will be mapped for their soil health and land use. Sources said the department will collaborate with the Nagpur-based National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning for generating land resource inventory database at village level, using GIS technology. This means the department will have complete land and soil data of each and every village for better planning and implementation of various developmental schemes.
“The soil surveys are aimed at providing complete inventory of properties of soils such as texture, erosion, permeability, depth, slope and drainage, salinity, stoniness, wetness, fertility and various topographical features of specific area. These soil samples are tested for macro and micro nutrient contents at soil testing laboratory of Punjab Agriculture University,” the official said.
According to a National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development report of 2015-16, Punjab contributed nearly 29 per cent rice to the central pool. More than 30 lakh hectares of area in Punjab is under paddy cultivation in the state. The state government’s plan to bring it down by over one lakh hectares to around 28 lakh hectares this year has failed.
Soil survey report of 7 districts
Sangrur: Soil is alkaline and at some places, slightly to moderate sodic in nature. Not suitable for paddy cultivation.
SAS Nagar, Patiala, Fategarh Sahib: Not fit for paddy.
Barnala: Soil is unfit for paddy cultivation as 88 per cent area has medium carbon content and 46 per cent is high in phosphorus.
SBS Nagar: Soil is alkaline and low in organic matter in 20 per cent area, while it is high in phosphorous in 63 per cent area.
Moga: Medium to high potassium content. Soil has low nitrogen.