Experts at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) say the farmers must get their field soil tested after every three years in order to keep a tab on its quality.
The university has been offering the testing service ever since its inception, at its department of soil science. Other than PAU, its associated Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), based in about 17 areas of the state, also offer this service at a nominal price.
Though, thousands of farmers arrive at these centres each year, PAU, along with the state government, wants this number to rise, as good soil is directly proportionate to good produce.
“It takes 3 to 7 days for soil testing. After the report is made, we issue a soil card to the farmer, which lists the kind of fertilisers required and the ones to be avoided,” said soil chemists Kuldeep Singh and JS Manchanda.
They added, “A farmer, who wishes to get the soil tested, should dig his field up to 6 inches and pick up the soil from several parts of the field. The soil should be at least 500gm and dry, when brought to the lab.”
Additional director of research JS Dhiman and soil chemist Dhanwinder Singh said soil testing was not only for the regular fields, but also for orchards. “Many a times, orchard owners wake up when it’s too late. In other words, prevention is always better than cure,” underlined Dhiman and Singh, who further clarified using fertilisers in excess, especially phosphorous, could dampen the health of soil.
Director of research SS Gosal said, “About 50-years-ago, crop intensity was not so high, but now with high intensity, soil health declines sooner than before. So, its regular checkups are must.”
Director of agriculture Mangal Singh Sandhu said the farmers were being encouraged for soil testing. “It should be kept in mind that the crop production declines and in some cases it even dies before maturing, due to poor soil health. The farmers must use the services of PAU and KVK’s,” added Sandhu, who aims to popularise the testing among farmers.