Focus: GS-III Agriculture, Environment and Ecology
- In the past five decades, Punjab had achieved several firsts in the field of agriculture and even became the first state in the country to install soil fertility map in each village to improve soil health.
- However, the soil of Punjab has always been an issue of debate because the state is not only the highest consumer of chemical fertilisers per hectare in the country, but also the third highest pesticide consumer while accounting for less than 2% of the total area of the country.
What is organic matter and why it is required in the soil?
- Organic matter is the very foundation of good soil health. It consists of plants, animal material which gets converted into humus after decomposing.
- According to the agriculture department, it improves soil quality and fertility. Organic matter can even improve the fertility of sandy soils.
- It supplies nutrients, increases water-holding capacity, prevents soil erosion.
- Supplication of organic matter into the soil decreases with frequent tilling of the land.
- Soil having good amount of organic matter has great water holding capacity which in turn needs lesser irrigation and even helps arrest floods by alloying increased infiltration into the soil.
What is the ideal organic matter content in soil?
- Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) aid that 0.75 per cent organic matter in the soil is sufficient, while, International standards suggest having around 2-3 per cent in the soil.
- In Punjab organic matter presence in the soil was 0.33 per cent during the Green Revolution in 1966-67, which has increased to 0.51 per cent at present – way below what it needs to be so as to call the soil healthy.
What steps can be taken to increase organic matter in soil in Punjab, when most farmers sow three crops a year?
- In Punjab, farmers usually plant three crops a year which means the land gets disturbed every time they till, leading to a decrease in organic matter in the soil.
- Experts advised farmers to opt for two crops a year and grow green manure as a third crop, which is ploughed into the field only to improve soil fertility.
- Putting cow dung in the fields, incorporating paddy and wheat stubble in soil, growing pulses like summer moong are methods to enhance it.
- By incorporating crop residue in fields, usage of fertilizers would also decrease and land would become healthy.
-Source: Indian Express