The Financial Express

Practice for standard use of fertilizers 

| Updated: September 08, 2022 22:33:10

Practice for standard use of fertilizers 

In modern agricultural practice, use of chemical fertiliser has become indispensable for increasing crop yield as well as maintaining soil fertility. In this connection, there is the standard set by the so-called 4R principle which suggests option for right nutrient source at the right rate, right time and right place to ensure proper use of nutrient inputs and thus optimise productivity. Unfortunately, this golden rule is often ignored in practice. Farmers often apply fertilisers in their fields in amounts that are either above or below what are recommended according to this standard practice. Far from helping farmers, it rather impacts negatively on the soil's fertility and thereby reduces productivity of the agricultural farms in question. 

In that case, it would be necessary to observe the ongoing practice of fertiliser use among the country's farmers vis-à-vis what is recommended. At the same time, it is also important to know the local agricultural and socio-economic factors influencing the use of fertilisers and how it is causing nutrition gap at farm level.  Such discrepancies have the potential to create what is known as 'crop yield gap' which ultimately poses a threat to food security. It is worthwhile to note that a project titled 'Nutrient Management for Diversified Cropping in Bangladesh (NUMAN)' to this effect has been going on since 2018. It is scheduled to end by December this year.  As part of this effort, a six-day research review workshop on the project has recently been conducted in the city.The observations made at the review workshop on the project in question highlighted the negative impacts of the unrecommended use of fertiliser by farmers at the field level. These negative impacts of unapproved use of fertiliser constitute the so-called 'crop yield gap'. Since the said 'crop yield gap' has huge implications for the country's food security, minimising it should get the highest priority at the policy level.  

Reassuringly a foreign-funded study on minimising the 'crop yield gap' is being conducted by international experts and academics in collaboration with different agricultural research organisations of the government. Such efforts on the part of the government towards encouraging standard farming practice among farmers whereby use of fertiliser could be maintained at a scientifically recommended and sustainable level are definitely steps in the right direction. Evidently, the country can ill afford indiscreet use of agricultural inputs including fertilisers. It is more so at a time when in the face of the price spiral of fertiliser in the international market as well as its supply crunch, the government has been compelled to go for austerity in the use of fertiliser. In line with this policy, the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has cut the requirement of fertiliser which for FY23 has been set at 6.4 million tonnes.  

Clearly, it is a reduction by 0.16 million tonnes from the previous fiscal's amount at 6.56 million tonnes. It is a difficult phase for farmers or for the country's entire agriculture sector for that matter at a time when the requirement of fertiliser had been increasing progressively (4 to 5 per cent year on year) over the past decade. So, this calls for maximum prudence on the part of policymakers, for ensuring food security should be the core concern under any circumstances. Hopefully, the government would help evolve a standard and sustainable practice for fertiliser use among farmers and support ongoing researches to this end with adequate funds. 

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