A Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) study has found that farmers in the state are wasting more than Rs 175 crore on application of unnecessary fertiliser on crops a year. A large quantity of nitrogen also seeped underground resulting into the contamination of ground water.
The study has found that incorrect and inappropriate application of fertilisers by farmers to gain bumper yield leads to the deterioration of soil, resulting in lower production. This creates a long-term impact in national food security.
PAU has issued a report that the imbalanced fertiliser use in terms of Nitrogen( N) Phosphorus(P) Potash(K) is evidenced by their wider consumption ratios of 27.8 : 7.3 : 1 and 40.3 :12.3 :1 against desirable ratio of (nitrogen-phosphorus-potash) 4:2:1 in agriculturally advanced states of Punjab and Haryana, respectively.
"In wheat crop 50 kg Nitrogen (N), 25 kg Phosphorus (P) and 12kg Potash(K) fertilizer is recommended by PAU in one acre of crop. Achieving greater fertilizer use efficiency (FUE) is important as inefficient use of fertilizers represents substantial economic loss and an environmental degradation," the report adds.
Moga agriculture development officer Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar said that soil test based application of fertilizers is recommended to obtain higher yield and efficiency in fertiliser yield.
"However, if the soil test cannot be conducted, a leaf colour chart (LCC) is a good diagnostic tool for detecting Nitogen deficiency in wheat. The colour of youngest fully expanded leaf (second from the top) of 10 randomly selected disease free plants from each field is matched with the colour strip of the LCC," Brar added.
"Apply 40 kg urea per acre to timely sown and 25 kg urea per acre to late sown wheat sown after December 15 with the first irrigation. Then match leaf colour of the topmost fully exposed leaf with LCC under shade of your body before second irrigation about 50-55 days after sowing. If leaf colour greenness of six or more out of ten leaves is less than shade 4 on LCC, then top dress 40 kg urea per acre to timely sown and 25 kg urea per acre to late sown wheat with second irrigation. Otherwise, if leaf greenness is equal more than shade 4 on leaf colour chart, then top dress 25 kg urea per acre to timely sown and 15 kg urea per acre to late sown wheat with second irrigation. By adopting the LCC technique, a farmer can save up 20% of the Nitrogen fertiliser," ADO recommended.
When contacted, Punjab agruiculture director Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu said that the department motivated farmers for adoption of improved technology along with improved agronomic strategies, which helps in enhancing the productivity of crops.
Overdose of fertilisers creates the problems of insects-pests on the crops and also affects soil fertility.
"Farmers should adopt new technologies as recommended by agriculture experts," Sandhu added.