There may finally be a long-term, low-cost solution to the ever-increasing toxicity of land and groundwater in the state. The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is now distributing a ‘leaf colour chart’ (LCC) that would help determine the need of fertiliser based on, as the name suggests, the greenness of the leaves of the crop.
Developed by culling information from the internet and based on a Japanese technology used by several countries for wheat, maize and rice crops, the LCC could help cut down fertilier use by 15-20% and save the farmers “up to Rs 170 crore spent year after year on unnecessary fertilisers”, said experts from the Ludhiana-based PAU who demonstrated the chart at Landhe Ke village in Moga on Thursday.
SIDE-EFFECTS OF FERTILISERS
According to agriculture department officials, research confirms that excess nitrogen-based fertilisers reach groundwater in the form of nitrates, making it unfit for drinking. Technically, the water becomes unfit for drinking when nitrate (N) level reaches 10 mg per litre.
Also, excessively fertilised crops have dark green leaves which attract insects and pathogens. ADO Brar told the farmers that remains unused escapes the soil and the plants and seeps directly into the ground. It reaches water bodies and thus enters the atmosphere, creating pollution.
He linked it to the depletion of the ozone layer, saying that as the atmosphere gets excessive nitrogen, its oxides can hasten the withering of the layer that protects us from harmful rays of the sun.
Chief agriculture officer Dr Ravi Kumar Sabharwal said that the LCC-based nitrogen-management technology has great potential. “By adopting need-base nitrogen-management technology, the state’s farmers can save 15 to 20 per cent of urea, which could mean Rs 170 crore annually,” said Sabharwal.