Thursday 27 October 2011

Soil Health being given secondary importance

In any crop production, Soil Health should come first, if soil health is sound rest will follow naturally and successfully and any contrary will result in low yield.
   Fertile and productive soil would anchor good crop growth whatever may be the varieties but soil with depressed health will be inhibit the crop growth.

Significance of soil health:-

 In one word, a good soil health would suffice with “Capable of supporting the crops” that is a good soil with the perspective of crop production indicates, its ability to supply required nutrients (both macro and micro nutrients) to the crop plants for successful growth and completion of life cycle.
A typical, soil not only has the required macro & micro nutrients, it also has many other micro organisms and other natural living beings which help in release of several nutrients in the soil thereby improving the soil health.
Good soil health also has the good water retention capacity which ultimately helps in crop production.

Deterioration of soil health:-

Now-a-Days crop production has been making a huge challenge due to a several factor, among the many such influencing factor is SOIL. Soil health has become cause of concern over the years.
Continuous cropping has depleted the soil nutrients to the great extent. But, replenishment by way of improving soil health has not been done instead much pressure is being given on the same plot of land. Continuous cropping without good replenishment has exhausted the naturally occurring soil nutrients to the maximum extent.
More over application of chemical fertilizers (over use) has resulted in further deterioration of soil health by influencing the soil PH and affecting soil microbial population.
Decline in soil microbial population has resulted in inefficiency or slow release of insoluble nutrient to the soil thereby again affecting the crop production.
Well, for a good soil health, humus or organic matter content of the soil plays significant roles. This organic content not only helps in restoring the soil health but also helps in colonization of beneficial microbes.
These micro organisms’ helps in degrading the bio material and releasing many elements to the soil thus enriching the soil health suitable for good crop production.

Challenge in improving the soil health

In the present perspective, I do not see any immediate future by which some measure could be taken to restore the soil health. This is because first and foremost thing that I feel required is application of any organic matter to the soil for balancing the ratio of organic matter content in the soil.
But there is gloomy picture as far as availability of manure is concerned. In earlier days manures, it was the only soil nutrient replenishment that used to be applied in the field but now, I doubt no farmer is able to apply required quantities of manure to the field for improving the soil health.
 There are instances that maximum crop production now-a-days are taken up without application of organic manure.
This problem is due to decline in livestock population in the state that has greatly impacted on availability of organic manures. In Tripura there is sharp decline in livestock population especially cattle.
One good concept which comes up as an alternative to the cow dung organic manure is also finding difficulties to make a foot holds in the state.
 Vermicompost could have been better replacement is not picking up in the state although; it is very promising in terms of nutrient availability and good prospect in marketability. May be the good messages is yet to reach to the target group that could be the reason, it is taking undue time till now.

Restoration of soil health

     We have heard lots about improvement and release of new verities for better crop production all over the world and same applies to the Tripura.
Speaking, nurturing and tendering of new varieties and its management have over shadowed the very important aspect of crop production per-requisite the soil.
 We tend to give very higher importance on specific variety, pest control measure etc but improving the deteriorated soil health has never been a topic of prime discussion.
     “Any amount of effort would be wastage of time, if soil health is down”
  The most immediate action should be restoration of soil health which by far plays one of the most significant roles in factoring the crop production. Some of the outlines by which, we can improve the soil health are given below:-
  • Application of organic matter.
  • Application of bio-fertilizer as the case may be, based on soil condition.
  • Culturing the algae especially in rice ecosystem.
  • Incorporation of green leafy matter for increasing the organic matter content.
  • Cultivation of leguminous crops for enriching the soil nutrient.
  • Encouraging the farmers to go for low cost vermicompost.
  • Keeping the land in fallow condition on certain period, if possible.
  • Judicious application of chemical fertilizer with an objective to not affect the soil health.

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