Soil Organic matter management in Organic farming

Organic subject in soil affects soil properties and processes and regularly one impact ends up in every other leading to a fancy chain of multiple benefits.For instance, adding organic mulch to the soil surface encourages earthworm activity, which in flip produces burrows and biopores expanding infiltration of water and lowering its loss as runoff which is helping scale back air pollution of streams and lakes.

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The quality of our soil is very poor in natural matter. A soil with 1.29 in step with cent carbon is considered to be enough in natural matter, however here the soil has not up to that. The range of carbon within the soil is 0.52 to 1.38 in line with cent in several soil collection, most commonly lower than one in line with cent.

Reasons for low natural matter content material are stated underneath.

Climatic conditions: The imply annual temperature influences the processes of decomposition of natural matter. At high temperatures decomposition proceeds briefly. That is why prime temperatures prevailing in the nation coupled with low rainfall are conducive for a rapid decomposition and loss of natural matter.

Soil orders: The soils had been labeled into 12 ‘orders’. The soil order performs key position in figuring out the potential of a soil to stay a undeniable stage of organic matter. The greatest indigenous soil orders are Aridisol and Entisol, which have the lowest natural topic content. Therefore, our soil has lesser capacity to carry higher organic matter content.

Availability of easy to-handle-mineral fertilisers: Before the advent of mineral fertilisers and green revolution, farmers used to refill their soil through software of natural wastes. With the supply of easy-to-handle mineral fertilisers the farmers have been in a position to get higher yields handiest with the appliance of mineral fertilisers. Thereby using organic wastes reduced greatly. The expanding prices of mineral fertilisers and soil degradation issues have compelled other folks to rethink the organic assets in agriculture.

The poor economic condition of our farmers is another reason for much less software of organic wastes. Almost no crop residues are left within the soil after harvest. The straw and different crop residues are used as fodder and animal dung is used as fuel. About 50 per cent of animal droppings are not gathered, about part of the amassed is burnt as gas and only one fourth is available for field software. Green manuring isn’t adopted by means of our farmers as it does now not give short- time period financial returns.

Intensive tillage: Another reason why for decrease organic subject content material of our soil is the apply of in depth soil tillage. Soil tillage aerates soil and breaks up natural residues, making them accessible to microbial decomposition thereby reducing organic subject content of the soil. The slogan “Dab Kay Wah Tay Raj Kay Khah” (Plow extra, earn extra) is no more valid in trendy agriculture.

There is a big contingent of organic resources available within the nation to be used for improving organic matter content material of our soils. Some of them are as beneath.

Farmyard manure: Farmyard manure is a decomposed mix of dung and urine of cattle with straw and clutter used as bedding and residues from the fodder. It has been estimated that about 1.5 million tones of nutrients are available from farmyard manure in the nation. About 50 consistent with cent of the dung stays uncollected. Out of accrued animals dung about 50 in keeping with cent is used as gas. What ever is collected for manuring is most often heaped on the ground surface with residues from fodder and other area sweepings. The nitrogen within the manure is matter to volatilisation and leaching losses and the material that after all might be spread at the field could have low nitrogen content material. The utility of well-decomposed manure is more desirable than the use of contemporary fabrics.

Poultry manure: Poultry manure has the next nutrient content than farm animals manure. According to estimates the available poultry manure can give a contribution about 101,000 tones of nitrogen, 58,000 tones of phosphorous and 26,000 tones of potash.

Crop residues: Crop residues come with straw, husk, depart, vegetable and fruit waste, grass cuttings, weeds, sawdust etc. Most of the crop residues reminiscent of wheat straw, sugarcane tops/trash, cotton sticks, rice husk and so forth., are used as fodder and as fuel. But other waste materials may also be converted into helpful compost manures through retaining and subjecting them to a controlled strategy of decomposition.

Green manure: Green manuring refers to the observe of growing vegetation, preferably legumes and ploughing them below, when they achieve maximum production of inexperienced tops. Legumes be capable to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The amount of N mounted varies from crop to crop and is also about 20-40 kg/ha. Sun hemp, guar and dhancha are suitable plants for green manuring.

Filter cake and silage: Sugar trade produces around 1.2 million tones of clear out cake every year, which is a rich source of organic subject, micro and macro nutrients. Some sugar mills have molasses based distillery vegetation, which produce silage containing nutrients specifically potassium. In case, some of these fabrics are recycled through composting again to soil, it will be a good supply of essential plant vitamins for crop enlargement.

Abattoir waste: Slaughterhouse wastes equivalent to dried blood, meat meal, hoof and horn meal have prime nitrogen content material and are essentially concentrated natural manures, protected to use and efficient on all plants. From slaughterhouse waste about eight,000 tons blood meal might be produced every year for manorial use containing very important vitamins.

Other fabrics: Other cast and liquid based totally fabrics to be had come with sewage and sludge, millpond effluent, town refuse and some waste of meals processing industries. All those materials are used as plant vitamins after proper processing and removal of heavy metals and undesirable materials.

Compost: Composting is the method of decomposing plant residues in a heap or pit in order to converting the vitamins within the residue in more readily to be had form. In rural areas crop residues, stubbles, weeds, fallen leaves, remnants of fodder and green manure, etc. may also be amassed and saved in heap or pit to supply compost. Municipal/commercial wastes comprising the town refuse and human excreta may also be composted.

Biogas compost: This is a procedure in which natural fabrics are biologically decomposed to yield power in the form of combustible gases. The residual material provides valuable manure. Cattle dung is generally burnt as gas. Biogas generation reconciles both those targets: anaerobic decomposition of cattle dung yields both gasoline (biogas) and organic fertiliser (sludge). Biogas is composed basically of methane (CH4), about 60 percent. About 1000 cubic feet of biogas is equivalent to 600 cubic feet of herbal gasoline, 5.2 gallons of fuel and four.6 gallons of diesel oil. A small circle of relatives of 4 will require 150 cubic ft of biogas per day, for cooking and lighting an quantity which can also be generated from the family’s evening soil and the dung of three cows.

Strategies for bettering organic topic content of soil: Fertilisers, which have the entire vitamins in to be had form, can provide sufficient plant nutrient go with the flow to the corps. Fertilisers are the quickest and surest means of boosting crop production but their cost and constraints ceaselessly deter farmers from the usage of them in the recommended amounts and balanced proportions.

During a survey by way of the NFDC it used to be discovered that 49 in line with cent farmers use farm yard manure (FYM). Cultivation of sesbania as inexperienced manure crop in normal in addition to marginally salt effected soils is being practised through some farmers and its price has been proved in many research. Among crop residues the apply of ploughing of cotton sticks is choosing up a few of the farmers.

The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc), the National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) and provincial agricultural research institutes are carrying out paintings on biological fertilisation. The Parc in collaboration with the Engro Chemical Pakistan Limited commercialised rhizobium explicit for chickpea within the identify of Biozot. NIBGE is also advertising its bio-fertiliser for rice. Provincial analysis institutes are also offering inoculums to farmers for leguminous and non-leguminous plants.

Zero/minimum tillage system: Zero tillage is a system wherein the soil is left undisturbed. The best soil disturbance is of a slim band by way of soil attractive elements of the planter or drill. Reduction in soil disturbance from standard, extremely disturbed tillage methods to minimal or zero tillage produces slower carbon losses and can even increase the volume of carbon saved in a soil. Other benefits of 0 tillage to farmers include: Less labour, decreased equipment wear and tear, high soil moisture, progressed soil tilth, lowered soil erosion and diminished manufacturing value.

Weed keep an eye on through chemical compounds is among the drawbacks of this system. Because of being expensive and environmentally hazardous it is fascinating to make use of some inexpensive and environmentally secure chemical compounds. It may be imaginable that as an alternative of holding the sphere completely free of weeds, we can keep them to a protected threshold stage and handiest till when weeds exceed threshold stage. Increasing the cropping intensity is superb way-out to cut back weeds.

However, beneath our conditions, minimum tillage gadget appears to be more promising than 0 tillage. Cultivation may also be completed simplest when ever it is inevitable, for example at seedbed preparation or when weeds exceed the brink stage. This would also help scale back the usage of chemicals for regulate of weeds and bugs, thereby reducing the enter costs and environmental issues.

Garden Compost Making Process, Steps, and Guide

Garden Compost Making Process, Steps, and Guide

Homemade Garden Compost Making Process

Today, let us discuss about Garden Compost Making Process at home.

Healthy garden soil will give you amazing results. Adding compost to the garden soil will make it more productive. Adding a commercial compost is  a bit expensive, so why don’t you do it yourself.

Making homemade compost is quite easy, Homemade compost is done by natural decomposition to transform landscapes and kitchen waste into a rich soil compost. Home-made compost done using some Decomposers, like bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes, earthworms and other composting critters.

What is a Compost?

The Compost is decomposed matter of organic material which can be produced by bacteria in the soil, by breaking down garbage and biodegradable trash, which results in a product rich in minerals that is best for ideal garden or landscaping amendment.

Benefits of Homemade Compost: 

  • No extra cost, it is made of kitchen waste, lawn clippings, leaves and other vegetation.
  • Potting mixes and soils with compost can produce vigorously regardless of growing vegetables, growing herbs or organic rose gardening.
  • Boosts up the garden soil structure, texture and aeration.
  • Adding compost will improves soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development in plants.
  • The organic matter provided in compost increases the microorganisms, which keeps the soil in a healthy, balanced condition.
  • Compost will loosen clay soils and makes sandy soils retain water.
  • When you use homemade organic compost, there will be no need for the additional fertilizer
  • Home made composts are good sources of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which promotes the optimal growth of the plants. Composts are the best source of micronutrients like boron, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc.

How docomposts work?

  • Composts helps the bacteria and fungi in recycling the waste material into fertilizer.
  • Composts are mixed into the garden soil or this homemade compost is also used as mulch.

How to make the Momemade Compost?

  • Choose a best place for your pile or compost bin. So that it cannot create problems for your neighbors, choose a discreet location. The location you choose should have good airflow, access to water and partial shade in the summer to protect bin or pile from getting too hot), but good sun in the winter keeps it warm in winter.
  • How to choose bin for making compost?

For this work, composter can be ideal one, or you can make your own. Rotating bins are the best, easy and keeps animals out, but it is easy to make a workable bin on your own.  Simple compostercan be constructed by, tracking down shipping pallets. Keep on for the bottom. Bound them with metal support poles and add pallets by slipping them over the support poles for making bin walls.

The bin should be of 3x3x3 feet, it is the minimum size to create its own heat, but small enough to turn if you are opting commercial composter, you can an optimal size.

  • What are the materials needed?

To add materials, don’t add everything into the compost bin; we have listed the things that should be added and things that should be avoided.

Greens for Composting: Green leaves, Garden Waste, Flowers, Vegetables, Fruit peels, Scraps, Coffee Grounds, Tea leaves or bags, Eggshells, etc.

Browns for Composting: Evergreen needles, Dried leaves, Paper egg cartons, paper towels, Dried grass clippings, shredded newsprints, Barks, straw, sawdust, vacuum lint, small cardboard pieces, dead house plants, shredded brown paper bags etc.

Material that should be avoided: Meat or animal products (bones, fish, eggs, butter, yogurt, etc.), Coal ash, Weeds or weed seeds, Pet droppings, Synthetic chemicals.

  • Filling the Composting Bin/Pile: Add alternate layer materials, the first layer should be course material like twigs/barks as they promote drainage and aeration. Now cover this layer with leaves, then add alternate layers of green and browns. Green materials are a good source of nitrogen and brown material are a good source of carbon. Add the layers till the bin is full. The bin contents start to shrink when it begins to decompose.
  • Adding kitchen waste to Compost Bin: While adding food scraps or yard waste to the bin/pile, add a layer browns over the kitchen waste. If you don’t add the browns the compost will be wet and break down process becomes slow.
  • Temperature: the best and easiest way to test your compost’s temperature is by dipping your hand into the center of the compost bin. The composter temperature should be warm or hot, it is at a good temperature. If the bin temperature is same as the ambient temperature. This indicates that the microbes have slowed down — and has been slowed down.

Use a compost thermometer to for checking bin temperature. An ideal compost pile will heat up to temperatures of 60-80°C. At these temperatures most pathogens and weed seeds disposed completely.  When your pile/bin is really doing its composting process, then its temperature reaches up to 70°C. If the temperature of your pile reaches to peak and then starts to drop, then it’s time to turn the pile.

  • Moisture: Compost should be moist, but not soaking wet. Composting works well with 40-60% moisture content.
  • Aeration: the compost bin should have a good amount of oxygen, as every tiny microorganism needs oxygen to survive, so make sure enough oxygen is getting into your pile by turning your compost regularly. You use a compost aerator or pitchfork to mix your pile. If you are using a compost tumbler, it can be recommended option.
  • Maintain the Bin/Pile: for a quick composting process, check your compost bin regularly and follow the tips below:

When never you add fresh material, mix it in with the lower layers thoroughly.

Materials you add should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge. Add dry materials or water – as per the requirement to maintain adequate moisture levels.

Mix or turn the compost once a week to fasten the breakdown process and eliminate odor.

The finished compost will stay at the top of the bin. Remove all the finished compost from the bin, leave the unfinished materials in the bin to continue decomposing. Make sure that the decomposition process is done completely  before you use; otherwise, microbes in the compost could take nitrogen from the soil and harm plant growth.

Tips and Techniques for Composting:

  • Adding blood meal, cottonseed meal, well-aged manure or compost starter will fasten the breaking process of organic matter into compost. These materials are rich in nitrogen.
  • Chopping the material into smaller pieces will also fasten the breakdown process.
  • Plants that are treated with pesticides and/or herbicides should be avoided.
  • Add a lot to your pile of time will provide enough heat to the pile.
  • Turning compost regularly will increase the oxygen supply to the material and speeds up the composting process.
  • A Warm climate will keep the microbes more active, so keep your pile or bin in the sun.
  • The compost that smell like rich, dark soil will indicate the completion of the composting process.
  • Apply finished compost to the garden soil about 2-4 weeks before you plant, giving the compost time to integrate and stabilize within the soil.

Avoid Common Mistakes in Composting Process:

  • Don’t start too small. The breakdown process enough in order to do its job. Some composting bins work well for small amounts of material, so choose a product as per your requirements.
  • Maintain the good moisture level. Check the composting bin regularly, mainly during hot, dry weather conditions.
  • A compost made of different textures and nutrients is made of disintegration of many different plants will give your garden soil a perfect organic nutrient source that helps create disease and pest resistance.

How to use Homemade Garden Compost:

  • Sprinkle the compost in your garden twice of thrice in a year.
  • Use can use the compost as top dressing for flower beds and at the base of trees and shrubs.
  • You can mix compost in with garden and flower bed soil.
  • You can the homemade compost as a soil conditioner when planting or transplanting trees, flowers and shrubs.

Egg shells as Natural Fertilizer

Manazza Ayub

(Institute of food science and Nutrition, UOS)

Natural fertilizers are the valuable gift of Almighty. These are derived from animal or plant source with zero or least side effects. It is a best way to reduce the use of pesticides and ultimately their harmful effect on human life. Natural fertilizers like egg shells can be use more easily in home gardening rather than in fields. Memon et al. (2016) reported that Pakistan has been producing 10,000 million eggs per annum. An average Pakistani consumes about 65-70 eggs per year so why not utilize these eggs waste as a beneficial product rather than throwing them away in trash.

Egg which is considered the most nutritious diet can also be used as a fertilizer in whole form. But it can spread rotten odor if you don’t dig the soil deep down and bury them. It is difficult to decompose in soil which makes it less effective. Also it is not economical to use whole egg as fertilizer. It attracts rodents which dig the soil and destroy the roots of plants so ultimately makes the condition worst. Not only eggs but egg shells also have their nutritional benefit that’s the reason we can use egg shells as natural fertilizer. Study shows that Powder of eggshells increases the size of red clover plant of 10mm than usual (planting Science.org, 2011).  As chicken eggs are common in Pakistan so we are mainly concern here with chicken egg shells. Egg shell comprises 10.2% of egg along with shell membrane. Chicken egg shells made up of approximately 96% calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate has porous structure which makes shells semi permeable for air and moisture and let life breath inside the egg shells. Egg shells also protective by a coating called bloom (cuticle). It plays an important role as a barrier and prevents the penetration of microbes and dust inside the shell. Egg shell also contains sulphur, potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. Residues of protein adhere with egg shells act as nitrogen source.

Uses of Eggshells in Agriculture

1: Eggshells act as pest repellent especially for pests belong to the phylum mollusca such as slugs and snails. Sharp pieces of shells cause abrasion to the fragile feet of snails thus act as a pest deterrent.

2: Egg shells as a whole can also use as seed germination pot. Fill the egg cups with moist soil and seeds and let them grow enough that they are able to transplant in your desired place i.e. garden or yard.

3: Eggs shells are also going to be use as bird feed. Shells powder is mixed with bird food to regulate their digestive system.

4: Being a source of calcium it increases the calcium level of soil. Calcium in turn enhances the uptake of minerals and nutrients by roots and also decreases the level of soil acidity.

 

Preparation of egg shells as a fertilizer:

1: Wash the shells with water to remove egg white portion and dried them. Shells can be dried by dryer or simply spreading them under sun light.

2: Ground the egg shells in to fine ground powder.

3: store the powder in closed jar.

Mitchell (2005) performed a test to find out the effect of shells on pH of soil. He found that coarse pieces of shells do not help to decrease pH neither act as lime source. So to make it effective we need to ground it in to fine particles. He also observed that egg shells bring change in the pH of soil having pH near 4.8 (acidic) But it does not bring any change in soil having pH near 6.8 as it stop decomposing at this point. It happens because calcium carbonate is insoluble in water and alkaline medium. It is just soluble in acidic medium; even it shows less solubility in less acidic medium that’s the reason egg shells work best as a fertilizer for acidic soil.

Reference:

Oliveira, D. A., Benelli, P., & Amante, E. R. (2013). A literature review on adding value to solid residues: egg shells. Journal of cleaner production46, 42-47.

https://www.ijser.org/researchpaper/EGG-SHELL-AND-BIO-WASTE-MANURE.pdf

Role of Biofertilizers in soil fertility and Agriculture

Biofertilizers are known to play a number of vital roles in soil fertility, crop productivity and production in agriculture as they are eco friendly and can not at any cost replace chemical fertilizers that are indispensable for getting maximum crop yields. Some of the important functions or roles of Biofertilizers in agriculture are:

  1. They supplement chemical fertilizers for meeting the integrated nutrient demand of the crops.

  2. They can add 20-200 kg N/ha year (eg. Rhizobium sp 50-100 kg N/ha year ; Azospirillum , Azotobacter : 20-40 kg N/ha /yr; Azolla : 40-80 kg N/ha; BGA :20-30 kg N/ha) under optimum soil conditions and thereby increases 15-25 percent of total crop yield.

  3. They can at best minimize the use of chemical fertilizers not exceeding 40-50 kg N/ha under ideal agronomic and pest-free conditions.

  4. Application of Biofertilizers results in increased mineral and water uptake, root development, vegetative growth and nitrogen fixation.

  5. Some Biofertilizers (eg, Rhizobium BGA, Azotobacter sp) stimulate production of growth promoting substance like vitamin-B complex, Indole acetic acid (IAA) and Gibberellic acids etc.

  6. Phosphate mobilizing or phosphorus solubilizing Biofertilizers / microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, mycorrhiza etc.) converts insoluble soil phosphate into soluble forms by secreting several organic acids and under optimum conditions they can solubilize / mobilize about 30-50 kg P2O5/ha due to which crop yield may increase by 10 to 20%.

  7. Mycorrhiza or VA-mycorrhiza (VAM fungi) when used as Biofertilizers enhance uptake of P, Zn, S and water, leading to uniform crop growth and increased yield and also enhance resistance to root diseases and improve hardiness of transplant stock.

  8. They liberate growth promoting substances and vitamins and help to maintain soil fertility.

  9. They act as antagonists and suppress the incidence of soil borne plant pathogens and thus, help in the bio-control of diseases.

  10. Nitrogen fixing, phosphate mobilizing and cellulolytic microorganisms in bio-fertilizer enhance the availability of plant nutrients in the soil and thus, sustain the agricultural production and farming system.

  11. They are cheaper, pollution free and renewable energy sources

  12. They improve physical properties of soil, soil tilth and soil health in general.

  13. They improve soil fertility and soil productivity.

  14. Blue green algae like Nostoc, Anabaena, and Scytonema are often employed in the reclamation of alkaline soils.

  15. Bio-inoculants containing cellulolytic and lignolytic microorganisms enhance the degradation/ decomposition of organic matter in soil, as well as enhance the rate of decomposition in compost pit.

  16. BGA plays a vital role in the nitrogen economy of rice fields in tropical regions.

  17. Azotobacter inoculants when applied to many non-leguminous crop plants, promote seed germination and initial vigor of plants by producing growth promoting substances.

  18.  Azolla-Anabaena grows profusely as a floating plant in the flooded rice fields and can fix 100-150 kg N/ha /year in approximately 40-60 tones of biomass produced,

  19. Plays important role in the recycling of plant nutrients.

Zinc: Importance and Current situation

Zaghum Sattar & Abdul Saboor Butt

Institute of soil & Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

Zinc Importance and Current situation 300x300 Zinc: Importance and Current situationZinc (Zn) is among those minerals that were first considered as essential for plants, animals and human. Zn is a basic essential trace mineral element for normal healthy growth in plants, animals and humans that uptake as a divalent cation (Zn2+) by plants. Zn is playing principal metabolically role in plants and required in the carbonic enzyme present in all photosynthetic tissues, and also required for chlorophyll biosynthesis. Zinc is one of the essential micronutrient for the normal healthy growth and reproduction of crop plants. Zn plays an important role in plant metabolism by influencing the activities of enzymes, hydrogenase and carbonic anhydrase, stabilization of ribosomal fractions and also synthesis of cytochrome.  Zn also activate plant enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, integrity maintenance of cellular membranes, synthesis of nucleic acids and specific proteins, regulate auxin synthesis and pollen formation. The regulation of the gene expression required for the tolerance of environmental stresses in plants also depend on the Zn.Zinc deficiency involves in the abnormalities development in plants as deficiency symptoms such as stunted growth, chlorosis and smaller leaves, spikelet sterility. Zn deficiency can also adversely affect the quality of harvested products; plants susceptibility to injury by high sunlight or temperature intensity and to infection by fungal diseases can also increase. A zinc deficiency affects the capacity for water uptake and transport in plants. Zn involves in the synthesis of tryptophan which is a precursor of IAA, and in the production of growth hormoneauxin. Zinc deficiency is common in humans, animals and plants. More than 30% world’s population suffers from Zn deficiency. Zinc deficiency is found to be more common in developing countries due to low Zn in their diet. Zinc plays a part.in the basic roles of. Cellular functions in all living organisms and also involved in the human immune system. The optimum dietary intake for human adults is 12-15 mg Zn per day. Zinc acts as a catalytic or structural component in various body enzymes.Unsatisfactory intake and improper absorption of Zinc in the body may cause deficiency of Zn.  Zn malnutrition in humans can result in many fatal and other diseases like hair and memory loss, skin problems and weakness in eye side and body muscles. Insufficient intake of Zn during pregnancy in women also causes stunted brain development of the fetus. Infertility has also been observed in Zn deficient men. Zinc deficiency may cause congenital diseases like Acrodermatitis enteropathica. According to FAO/WHO recommendations an average male need 11 mg of Zn daily while an average female needs 9 mg of Zn. During pregnancy and lactation, the female needs 13 mg to 14 mg of Zn daily. Infants from 7 months to 3 years need 3 mg, 4 to 8 years need 5 mg and children from 9 to 13 years need 8 mg of Zn daily. In Pakistan, Zn deficiency is common in children and in women.Trace elements such as Zn are contained in all soils in measurable amounts. However, these concentrations can vary considerably. The overall mean total Zn concentration in soil is around 55 mg Zn kg-1. A typical range of Zn in soils is from 10 to 300 mg Zn kg-1. These values do not include contaminated soils, which may have much higher zinc concentrations.However, plant available Zn is very low as compared to its total amount. For a better Zn nutrition of human beings, cereal grain should contain around 40-60 mg Zn kg-1 where current situation is 10-30 mg Zn kg-1. Soils with low zinc availability for plant uptake represent nearly half of the cereal-growing areas of the world. The countries most affected by zinc deficient soils are Pakistan, India, Iran, China and Turkey with 50-70% of arable land classified as zinc deficient.

 

Agricultural technologies can increase global crop yields by 67pc

Pakistan, which has an agrarian economy, is not equipped to adapt to climate change because of its low technological and resource base.

It has suffered a loss of billions because of the floods in recent years. A new strategy is required to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The increased demand for food due to population and income growth and the impacts of climate change on agriculture will ratchet up the pressure for increased and more sustainable agricultural production to feed the planet.

A new report released on Wednesday by London-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) measures the impacts of agricultural innovation on farm productivity, prices, hunger, and trade flows as we approach 2050 and identifies practices which could significantly benefit developing nations.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty.

The IFPRI was established in 1975 to identify and analyse alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries. “The book, Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies, released today, examines 11 agricultural practices and technologies and how they could help farmers around the world improve the sustainability of growing three of the world’s main staple crops – maize, rice, and wheat,” the report said.

Using a first-of-its-kind data model, the IFPRI pinpoints the agricultural technologies and practices that can most significantly reduce food prices and food insecurity in developing nations. The study profiles 11 agricultural innovations: crop protection, drip irrigation, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, integrated soil fertility management, no-till farming, nutrient use efficiency, organic agriculture, precision agriculture, sprinkler irrigation, and water harvesting.

Agricultural technologies can increase global crop yields by 67pc 300x300 Agricultural technologies can increase global crop yields by 67pcThe findings from the book indicate that no-till farming alone could increase maize yields by 20 percent, but also irrigating the same no-till fields could increase maize yields by 67 percent in 2050.

Nitrogen-use efficiency could increase rice crop yields by 22 percent, but irrigation increased the yields by another 21 percent.

Heat-tolerant varieties of wheat could increase crop yields from a 17 percent increase to a 23 percent increase with irrigation.

Yet, no single silver bullet exists. “The reality is that no single agricultural technology or farming practice will provide sufficient food for the world in 2050,” said Mark Rosegrant, lead author of the book and director of IFPRI’s Environment and Production Technology Division. “Instead we must advocate for and utilise a range of these technologies in order to maximise yields.”

However, it is realistic to assume that farmers in the developing world and elsewhere would adopt a combination of technologies as they become more widely available. If farmers were to stack agricultural technologies in order of crop production schedules, the combination of agricultural technologies and practices could reduce food prices by up to 49 percent for maize, up to 43 percent for rice, and 45 percent for wheat due to increased crop productivity. The technologies with the highest percentage of potential impact for agriculture in developing countries include no-till farming, nitrogen-use efficiency, heat-tolerant crops, and crop protection from weeds, insects, and diseases.

The anticipated negative effects of climate change on agricultural productivity as well as projected population growth by 2050, suggest that food insecurity and food prices will increase. For example, climate change could decrease maize yields by as much as 18 percent by 2050–making it even more difficult to feed the world if farmers cannot adopt agricultural technologies that could help boost food production in their regions.

“One of the most significant barriers to global food security is the high cost of food in developing countries,” Rosegrant explained. “Agricultural technologies used in combinations tailored to the crops grown and regional differences could make more food more affordable – especially for those at risk of hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.”

However, based on current projections, stacked technologies could reduce food insecurity by as much as 36 percent. Making this a reality, however, depends on farmers gaining access to these technologies and learning how to use them. This underscores the need for improved agricultural education to ensure that farmers are able to use the best available technologies for their region and resources.

The IFPRI highlights three key areas for investments prioritising effective technology use: increasing crop productivity through enhanced investment in agricultural research; developing and using resource-conserving agricultural management practices such as no-till farming, integrated soil fertility management, improved crop protection, and precision agriculture.

Shahid Husain
Monday, February 17, 2014, Source:
International The News