Chemical use erodes soil fertility


Feb 21, 2018-

Haphazard use of chemical fertilisers has rampantly eroded soil fertility in eastern parts of Nepal, hitting agricultural productivity in the region, which is referred to as the country’s food basket.

The Eastern Region Soil Test Laboratory had collected 600 samples of soil from 16 districts of the eastern region, including Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Siraha and Saptari, in the last fiscal year. Of these samples, 70 percent contained acidic properties, which are harmful for the soil. A year ago, 86 percent of the soil samples tested by the laboratory were found to be acidic in nature. 

It is not exactly known how the acidic level in soil came down in the one-year period, but experts say acidity of 70 percent is very high.

“The acidity in soil reduces agricultural productivity, so farmers are not being able to harvest as much produce as they could have,” said Ramashish Yadav, chief of the planning division at the laboratory. 

The level of acidity in eastern region’s soil has hit an alarming level as many farmers have stopped using compost and are relying more and more on chemical fertilisers. If this trend continues, the arable land in the Tarai will convert into desert, where no vegetation can be grown, experts said.

Many farmers use chemical fertilisers to enhance soil fertility. But excessive use of such chemicals can damage the quality of soil. “So, haphazard use of chemical fertilisers should be avoided,” said Nathu Prasad Chaudhary, officiating chief of the laboratory. Plants require 16 different elements, including nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, for proper growth. Many of these elements are present in the soil. Excessive use of chemical fertilisers leads to loss of some of these elements, making the soil infertile, according to Chaudhary. 

Most of the farmers generally use fertilisers, like diammonium phosphate (DAP) and potash, before planting paddy. They then use urea when rice seedlings start growing. Farmers generally do not hold consultation with experts before making use of fertilisers. They simply purchase fertilisers from stores and use them as per the recommendation of shop attendants. 

“This practice has been affecting soil quality and hitting agricultural productivity,” said Yadav.

Published: 21-02-2018 08:22

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