As the state's department of agriculture has recently announced that every farmer must maintain soil test cards and go for regular soil testing, the experts from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) said this effort was need of the hour as agricultural soil in the state was being overexploited due to very high crop intensification which, according to them, is about 190%.
Testing helps one to know the exact quality of soil, what essential nutrients it lacks and most importantly can decrease our excessive dependency on chemical fertilisers which are used for enriching the soil, revealed the experts, adding it is must after every three years.
“It takes three to seven days for soil testing. As the report is made, we issue a soil card to the farmer in which it is listed what kind of fertilisers are required and what should be avoided. A farmer, who wants to get the soil tested, should dig soil six inch deep from the field and it must be ensured that soil is picked from different parts of the field. It should be at least half a kg and should be dry when brought to the lab,” shared soil chemists Kuldeep Singh and JS Manchanda. They said that other than the PAU, soil testing is also available in about 17 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of the PAU and various other agencies based in the various parts of the state.
JS Dhiman, additional director of research expressed that soil testing is not only for regular fields but also for orchards, as according to them many orchard owners have experienced death of their orchards due to poor soil health. “Many a time, orchard owners wake up when it is too late. In other words, prevention is always better than cure,” underlined Dhiman.
“Farmers who use certain fertilisers in excess, especially phosphorous, must understand that excess input of any fertiliser can dampen the soil health. In other words, a farmer through testing gets to know what fertilisers he is using in excess and may not be required,” he said.
RK Kalra from extension education also suggested the farmers to go for sowing of pulses as roots of these release nitrogen that enriches the soil. About fifty years ago, crop intensification was not as high as today that is why the state government wants every farmer to have a soil card.
Punjab minister of agriculture and NRI affairs Tota Singh said it should not be forgotten that if the soil health is poor, in most cases crop production declines and some crops even die before getting matured. “It is my appeal to all that soil testing is must and any farmer who will ignore will just invite losses. Prevention is better than cure,” he added.
Working soil testing laboratories in the state
Agency No. of labs Testing capacity
Agriculture department 37 35,5000
PAU 2 30,000
MARKFED 8 38000
National Fertilisers Limited 3 4000
TOTAL 50 427000
(Source: Punjab agriculture department)