The Role of Plant Sprayers in Plant Protection

Farmers now have access to a wealth of cutting-edge tools and resources thanks to ongoing technological breakthroughs in the agricultural industry, which help them fulfill their mission of feeding the world’s population. Regarding plant protection, many farmers have started employing sprayers to irrigate their crops and apply chemicals. Here, we’ve covered a few typical advantages of using hand sprayers in agriculture. 

plant sprayers

Features of Plant Sprayers in Plant Protection

Effective in the Control of Pests

Sprayers work well to eliminate pests. Alternatively, pesticides can be sprayed onto affected areas after being combined with water. Farmers must use sprayers every two weeks in any region with a high pest infestation. Even livestock may be sprayed with pesticides to eradicate ticks and other harmful pests to reduce output.

Herbicides are sprayed 

Sprayers make it simple to eliminate undesirable vegetation. They use a sprayer to mix water and herbicide for this. The farmer then applies it later as a spray to unwanted plants, which dries after a few days. As a result of technological advancement, researchers have created a variety of novel chemicals that can be used to identify and eradicate just undesirable crops from a plot of land. Such selective herbicides can also be used by sprayers, according to farmers.

Fungicides being sprayed

Hand sprayers are used ford sprayers to control fungus, rust, blights, and mil, decreasing agricultural productivity; these pests are the worst for plants. Parasitic fungi also harm animals. In contrast, you can easily control them when using a hand sprayer. Fungicides are typically liquid products that contain 90% sulfur and are available. Because they spare the leaves, sprayers are efficient at controlling fungus. 

Application of liquid fertilizer

Liquid fertilizer is an appropriate technique for usage in various dryland and soil erosion-prone locations. Here, liquid fertilizer is included in the sprayer to improve the procedure’s effectiveness. A specific group of crops is targeted by liquid fertilizer, and there is no chance of loss due to evaporation or exposure to the wind. These agricultural sprayers aid in crop establishment and encourage early rooting. Liquid fertilizer application also serves as irrigation in addition to providing vital nutrients.

Practical of fruiting, flowering, and plant growth

Plant growth efficiency is significantly influenced by the application method. Plant growth regulators can be sprayed on plants to hasten the effects on fruiting, flowering, and flower production. It will cure the plant more quickly and in an environmentally friendly manner, which is one of its most significant benefits.

Hydration and Irrigation

High-pressure sprayers are frequently employed in agriculture on little irrigation systems. In addition, farmers use freshwater to clear out any residue before harvesting any crop. Sprayers come in handy in any weather. These can also cool animals for various agricultural reasons, including insects and livestock.  

Also Read: Analyzing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mixed Farming

Conclusion

Sprayers have several uses in agriculture, whether one needs to apply water, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizer, or anything else. It is laborious to apply each of these chemicals and even water manually. Fortunately, sprayers operate automatically, enabling farmers to do the process in hours. Furthermore, sprayers cover a considerable amount of ground compared to any other tool used by farmers. So, it’s safe to assume that a farm would be lacking without sprayers. 

Mandi Updates: Wholesale Wheat Prices Drop on New Arrivals

The wholesale prices of wheat fell across the benchmark markets in India, according to the data from the Agmarknet portal run by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. The prices fell on new arrivals in the market.

In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the two largest wheat-producing states, the month-on-month wholesale prices dropped in February. In Rajasthan, the wholesale prices fell by Rs 118 per quintal to Rs 2,438, and those in Madhya Pradesh fell by Rs 140 per quintal to Rs 2,370. 

Wheat prices in Karnataka saw the largest fall of Rs 618 per quintal to Rs 3,306, followed by a Rs 242 per quintal fall in Chhattisgarh to Rs 2,267. In Haryana, the prices dropped by Rs 100 per quintal to Rs 2,200. Other regions saw a marginal fall in wholesale prices. The average wholesale price of wheat in the country dropped by Rs 148.33 per quintal to Rs 2,498.92.

In Bihar, the prices plummeted by Rs 7 per quintal to Rs 2,536, and in West Bengal only by Rs 6 per quintal to Rs 2,464. In Delhi, the fall was of a significant Rs 40 per quintal to Rs 2,513. However, in Uttarakhand, the wholesale wheat prices increased by Rs 185 per quintal to Rs 2,452, and in Uttar Pradesh, it rose slightly by Rs 7 per quintal to Rs 2,516. 

Wheat is a rabi crop sown in October-December and harvested in February-May. It is one of the most consumed food grains in India, and to stabilize its prices, the government intervenes through e-auctions and procurements through government agencies.

For those interested in exploring the prices of various crops in their respective state markets, the official website agmarknet.gov.in provides a comprehensive list. Understanding the price dynamics of different crops and their quality assessment remains pivotal in navigating market fluctuations for farmers and traders alike. 

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PM Modi launches new scheme for farmers, says ‘a new expansion to agriculture…

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, while launching the world’s largest storage scheme for our farmers, “Under this, in every corner of the country, thousands of warehouses and godowns will be built. Today, 18000 PACS are also computerised. All of these give will a new expansion to agriculture infrastructure in the country and connect agriculture to modern technology.”Addressing a gathering here, the prime minister said the cooperative sector is instrumental in shaping a resilient economy and propelling the development of rural areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated 11 godowns for grain storage in primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) spread across 11 states as part of the government’s flagship ‘World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan’ in the cooperative sector.

Modi also laid the foundation stone for an additional 500 PACS across the country for the construction of godowns and other agri infrastructure.

He also inaugurated a project for computerisation of 18,000 PACS across the country.

The aim behind these initiatives is to seamlessly integrate PACS godowns with the food grain supply chain, with a collaborative effort of NABARD and spearheaded by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).

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Analyzing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mixed Farming

Farmers have created cutting-edge methods for maximising their productivity and space. Making the most available resources may involve raising crops and cattle simultaneously or using one land for two crops. Each technique, however, has both some benefits and some drawbacks.

What is Mixed Agriculture?

A definition of mixed farming is farming that involves two or more businesses. For instance, mixed farming might be defined as the simultaneous and contiguous growing of crops and cattle. Better crops can be grown with the help of the livestock’s manure, and the improved crops can then be utilised to feed the animals. This supports a sustainable system and also offers environmental balance.

To help you better understand this sort of farming, we have covered the benefits and drawbacks of mixed farming in this blog.

Analyzing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mixed Farming

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mixed Farming

Advantages:-

Diversification: Diversification is one of the main benefits of mixed farming. Growing crops and raising livestock simultaneously enables farmers to diversify their risks and reduce losses in the event of problems like crop failures, diseases, or pests harming their crops or animals. For instance, the likelihood of suffering losses rises if a farmer primarily concentrates on agricultural cultivation during a drought. But if the same farmer engages in mixed farming, growing crops and raising animals simultaneously, he or she can sell the animals for a profit and keep the farm going.

Efficient Use of Resources: Mixed farming is an efficient use of resources because the same crop is used to raise crops and livestock. For instance, once crops are harvested, animals can graze on the agricultural leftovers, which reduces the need for additional fertiliser and animal feed costs. This reduces production costs and raises profitability as a result.

Increased Productivity:  Due to the efficient use of land, mixed farming increases productivity. For instance, manure from farm animals can be used to fertilise crops and improve soil fertility. As a result, farmers will receive increased harvests and money.

Risk management: By diversifying their sources of income, farmers who practise mixed farming can better handle risk. Farmers can rely on other items for income if one product fails. This reduces the possibility of a loss of all income and ensures the viability of farmers.

Sustainability: As is common knowledge, mixed farming minimises the demand for external inputs like pesticides and fertilisers. This results in less chemical use, which preserves the environment and ensures the farm’s sustainability.

Disadvantages:-

Expert Knowledge: Farmers need expert crop management knowledge and animal husbandry to practise mixed farming successfully. Farmers who lack the abilities and knowledge required to complete both tasks efficiently may find this problematic.

More Work: Because farmers must care for crops and animals, mixed farming involves more farmer labour. For some farmers, this labour-intensive technique causes exhaustion and burnout.

High Initial Capital Expenditure: Mixed farming necessitates a high initial capital expenditure. These investments include buying cattle, seeds, tools, and other things. Farmers who lack the funds to launch their farming business may find this challenging.

Disease and Pest Management: Managing diseases and pests in mixed farming presents several difficulties because they can quickly spread from animals to crops and vice versa. As a result, farmers must constantly monitor and manage their crops and cattle, which is time-consuming and expensive.

Market Risks: Because farmers must find markets for their crops and animals, mixed farming can be risky regarding product marketing. This is difficult, especially if there is a surplus of goods on the market and cheap pricing.

Also Read: How to use organic matter to improve the health of the soil?

Conclusion 

Despite its difficulties, mixed farming has shown to be successful, especially in regions with limited land where resource management is necessary for farmers. In order to successfully engage in mixed farming, it is crucial to examine both the benefits and drawbacks thoroughly.

India eyes reduced export costs with trial sea shipments of mangoes and pomegranates to US and EU.

In a pioneering move, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), in partnership with the Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), is gearing up for trial sea shipments of mangoes and pomegranates to the US and the European Union. This initiative, aimed at slashing the transportation expenses involved in exporting fresh fruits, follows the successful sea conveyance of bananas to the Netherlands and Russia, marking a significant advancement in the exportation of perishables.

APEDA’s collaboration with CISH on developing sea protocols is a strategic effort to streamline the export process, ensuring the efficient transport of fresh produce to distant markets while minimizing logistics costs. This initiative is expected to catalyze a substantial increase in the export volumes of not just mangoes and pomegranates, but also other fresh fruits and vegetables, thereby bolstering India’s footprint in the global market. Furthermore, APEDA’s commitment to expanding its export portfolio to over 203 countries/territories is evident from its promotion of the One District One Product (ODOP) scheme and Geographical Indication (GI) products, alongside tapping into non-traditional areas for sourcing exports. 

With more than 27 new product flag offs in the current financial year, ranging from guava and banana to marigold flowers and water chestnuts, APEDA is actively diversifying its export basket. These products, destined for the Gulf countries, Europe, and the US, underscore APEDA’s role in enhancing the capacity of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), thereby enabling direct exports and strengthening India’s agricultural presence internationally.    

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How to use organic matter to improve the health of the soil?

It will be impossible to satisfy the steadily expanding demand for food if soil health is poor. Legumes, manures, compost, and certain planting techniques can all be used naturally to improve soil quality. By incorporating chemical fertilizers, it can also be increased in an inorganic way. However, this has led to a rise in output rate. Additionally, using chemical fertilizer doesn’t ultimately increase soil value. It simply helps plant growth by increasing soil nutrients.

To uphold this criterion, they must be repeatedly added. Soil health improvement through the use of organic matter is currently an increasing trend in agriculture.

If agriculturists wish to increase yields, they must understand how to improve soil health naturally. This article delves further into the concepts of soil health, soil fertility, structure, pH, and soil type.

What is soil health?

All living things require soil to grow. Plants rely directly on soil for growth, whereas animals rely on soil indirectly through the food they ingest.

As a result, the ability of soil to operate effectively, or “soil health,” is a major concern for all living things. Soil can serve as a pillar for the advancement of living creatures.

As a result, the ability of soil to operate effectively, or “soil health,” is of enormous concern to all living things. Soil can serve as a pillar for the advancement of living creatures.

What does organic matter mean?

The term organic matter describes the remains of dead plants and animals, as well as any waste products that they left behind after they had decomposed and created a complex mixture of carbon-based chemicals. As it offers nutrients and aids in moisture retention, organic matter is an essential part of healthy soil.

It contributes significantly to carbon sequestration and the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions, making it an essential component of the carbon cycle. Organic materials include things like leaves, grass clippings, leftover food, manure, and other parts of decaying plants and animals.

Various Methods for Effective Soil Fertility Management

Increasing the health of the soil is a practical strategy for managing its fertility. Organic techniques have made inroads in recent years.

Soil fertility simply refers to the soil’s ability to provide a suitable environment for plants and support them. This approach aims to improve soil nutrients by boosting yield and maximising agronomic operations.

Planting crops (specifically legumes), manures, cover crops, and other natural farming methods are all part of an organic approach. Inorganic approaches include the use of chemical fertilisers.

Legumes are nitrogen-rich plants that are required by plants to improve the soil’s health. When legumes are planted, “Nitrogen fixation” occurs.

Nitrogen fixation is the process of turning atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia. However, not all legumes fulfill this function. Nitrogen-fixing legumes are legumes that extract nitrogen from the atmosphere and release ammonia.

Manures are animal waste, such as feces and urine, that can be utilized to naturally improve soil. Humans, cows, poultry, and other animals excrete this substance. Spreading cover crops or intercropping can also help the soil.

Planting cover crops helps the soil’s organic content. Additionally, regulating soil health has also been effectively accomplished by avoiding the loss of nutrients. Leaching and erosion losses ought to be avoided or prevented.

Also Read: What Is Soil Fertility and Why Is It Important?

Conclusion

Incorporating organic matter into the soil helps in resorting the degraded land and boosting agriculture productivity. Pay attention to the soil health and your farm will reap the rewards for many seasons. Organic matter creates the soil structure retains moisture and nutrients and prevents soil erosion. 

India needs to usher in Green Revolution 2.0 to promote less water-intensive crops

India needs to usher in Green Revolution 2.0 with a view to promote farming of less water-intensive crops such as pulses and oil seeds and discourage free power for the agri sector, economic think tank GTRI said on Thursday. There is a need to “promote less water-intensive crops like pulses, oil seeds, and vegetables like pulses, oil seeds, and vegetables that can significantly reduce water demand and the government can guarantee MSP (minimum support price) on these crops,” the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) report said.

It said that awareness among farmers should be increased about adopting water-saving technologies such as drip irrigation, laser land levelling, training on water-efficient techniques and precision agriculture to improve water use efficiency.

It also suggested ending free electricity for agriculture and introducing water pricing mechanisms that can discourage overuse and encourage conservation, besides educating farmers about the long-term consequences of unsustainable practices.

These recommendations assume significance as farmers in some states are protesting over their demands, which include a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops and farm debt waiver.

The MSP on rice and wheat and free electricity has made growing water-intensive paddy artificially cheaper, it said, adding this unfairly disadvantage eco-friendly, naturally grown paddy that relies on rain or canal water.

We need to usher in Green revolution 2.0 which would essentially be restoring crop mix that existed Pre Green revolution 1.0. We do not have any other option,” GTRI Founder Ajay Srivastava said.

It said that awareness among farmers should be increased about adopting water-saving technologies such as drip irrigation, laser land levelling, training on water-efficient techniques and precision agriculture to improve water use efficiency.

It also suggested ending free electricity for agriculture and introducing water pricing mechanisms that can discourage overuse and encourage conservation, besides educating farmers about the long-term consequences of unsustainable practices.

These recommendations assume significance as farmers in some states are protesting over their demands, which include a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops and farm debt waiver.

The MSP on rice and wheat and free electricity has made growing water-intensive paddy artificially cheaper, it said, adding this unfairly disadvantage eco-friendly, naturally grown paddy that relies on rain or canal water.

We need to usher in Green revolution 2.0 which would essentially be restoring crop mix that existed Pre Green revolution 1.0. We do not have any other option,” GTRI Founder Ajay Srivastava said.

Just two crops, paddy and wheat, account for around 90-95 per cent value of total MSP purchases and the maximum procurement of paddy is done in states like Punjab and Haryana.

Paddy, a water-intensive crop, consumes 2-3 times more water than alternative crops like maize or pulses. Every kilogram of paddy produced in Punjab consumes about 800-1,200 litres of water. Normally Punjab should not grow water-intensive paddy,” he said.

Paddy cultivation accounts for over 70 per cent of groundwater withdrawal and over 90 per cent of Punjab’s agricultural water comes from tube wells, and the number of active wells has increased exponentially in recent decades.

He said that as a result, the water table in Punjab is declining at an alarming rate of 0.4 metres per year, with some areas experiencing drops of up to 1 metre annually.

Farmers, incentivised by free electricity for tube wells, often lack the motivation to conserve water, further exacerbating the crisis.

“The MSP and free electricity schemes disadvantages environmentally sustainable, naturally grown paddy using rain or canal water by making water-intensive paddy artificially competitive,” the report said.

India has successfully defended its position at the WTO, keeping its local MSP programme unaffected and maintaining high tariffs on import of agricultural produce,” it said.

The US and other countries argue that India’s MSP support for wheat and rice exceeds the maximum 10 per cent price support permissible under the agreement. In 2020-21, India has reported its price support at about 15 per cent, but the US claims the support was 93.4 per cent.

This discrepancy arises from the AoA’s outdated method of calculating subsidies. It calculates subsidy by comparing the MSP not with the current market price but with the export price from 1986-89, known as the reference period.

Additionally, AOA considers the total production for calculation, not just the quantity bought under MSP.

Srivastava said that all this is a built-in design defect of the AOA that goes against India.

India got a reprieve from pressure during

from pressure during the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, which adopted a ‘peace clause’ that allows India to continue with the MSP programme under strict conditions.

Although the Bali decision offered some relief, it is limited and has strict transparency requirements.

India and other developing nations are advocating for a permanent solution.

This will remain the most critical issue for India at the WTO’s 13th ministerial conference meeting in Abu Dhabi, which starts from February 26.

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Farm Mechanization in India’s Agriculture Sector: Challenges and Opportunities

Agriculture sector’s integral role in India

The Indian Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, and Food Processing recently investigated farm mechanization and equipment spanning 2020-23. While representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare provided a thorough briefing on the status of modernization in farming, it did raise concern about the lack of foreign direct investment (FDI) flow in the sector. The parliamentary committee meticulously reviewed and sanctioned the report during their meeting on July 14, 2023.

ndia’s farming and allied sectors play a pivotal role, supporting 17 percent of the global population and contributing 20 percent to the nation’s GDP. With an average growth rate of 2.8 percent, nearly half of the population relies on agriculture.

According to a 2022 report, 47 percent of agricultural operations in India are mechanized, which is lower compared to developing counterparts like China, with 60 percent, and Brazil, with 75 percent farm mechanization. Further, the mechanization levels range between 40-45 percent in states like Punjab and Haryana while it is negligible in other areas like the north-eastern states of India. The country’s agriculture landscape is dominated by small and marginal holdings, constituting less than 2 hectares, which cover approximately 86 percent of the total operational holdings. The small size of landholdings is one of the main causes of the decreased use of modern farming machinery.

In 2023, it was predicted that achieving 75–80 percent mechanization in the country would take approximately 25 years. While existing initiatives like the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) are promoting the adoption of modern equipment in farming, India must focus on prioritizing mechanization efforts specifically targeting small farms. Prospects exist for private sector-led innovation but that will require clear policies and incentives.

Farm mechanization as a catalyst for growth

The Indian agricultural machinery market is estimated at US$16.73 billion in 2024 and projected to reach US$25.15 billion by 2029. Major growth drivers include favorable government policies, rising farm incomes, and the imperative role of mechanization.

Farm mechanization proves instrumental in reducing cultivation costs and enhancing productivity through efficient resource utilization. As per India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), powered machines contribute 40-45 percent to various farm activities. 

Approximately 50 percent of India’s population is employed in agriculture, which provides the majority of the country’s income and raw materials for numerous industries. The need for modern farm equipment arose from the increased production of grains, cereals, and oil seeds, which necessitates intensive harvesting procedures to maximize yield and minimize waste. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (India) estimated that at the end of the fiscal year 2022, India had produced more than 288 million MT of cereals (such as rice, wheat, barley, millet, ragi, etc.). India is the second-biggest producer of wheat and rice worldwide. Therefore, farmers are pushed toward agricultural mechanization as a result of the increasing farming operations needed to maintain the output.

India’s farm equipment landscape

Agriculture, as a major industry, demands continuous modernization. The diversity in farming, whether large-scale or small-scale, necessitates a spectrum of agricultural equipment. From basic tractors to sophisticated combine harvesters, the sector requires a nuanced understanding of the equipment’s specific applications. Livestock farming, too, has its specific requirements, spanning feeding equipment, poultry tools, corral systems, and more.

Categorizing agriculture equipment manufacturing companies in India, the classifications include (i) tractors (less than 50 HP, 50 to 75 HP, 76 to 100 HP, 101 to 150 HP, greater than 150 HP); (ii) equipment (plows, harrows, rotovators and cultivators, seed and fertilizer drills, and other equipment); (iii) irrigation machinery (sprinkler, drip irrigation, and other irrigation machinery); (iv) harvesting machinery (combine harvesters, forage harvesters, and other harvesting machinery); (v) and haying and forage machinery (mowers and conditioners, balers, and other haying and forage machinery).

Challenges and opportunities for farm mechanization in India:

  • While India has made progress in increasing power availability per hectare, with an increase from 0.3 kw in 1970 to 2.54 kw, the target of 4 kw per hectare by 2030 remains.
  • There’s a direct correlation between farm power availability and yield, emphasizing the need to increase farm power availability.
  • The proportion of budgetary allocation for the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) compared to the total budget of the Government of India has consistently decreased.
  • Budget allocations for the Research and Development (R&D) to Farm Mechanization Scheme have seen a steady decline over the past four years, with a significant decrease of approximately 30 percent from 2019–20 to 2022–23.
  • Rapid urbanization in India is leading to a shrinking agricultural workforce, with data showing a decline in the percentage of people employed in agriculture from 44 percent in 2017 to 41.4 percent in 2020. Shifting worker preferences from farm-oriented to allied industries contribute to labor deficits in agricultural operations. Manpower scarcity is expected to increase demand for farm equipment in the coming years, even as market demand will continue to accelerate.
  • Tax and duty incentives to support manufacturing units in low mechanization areas are essential for sustainable growth.
  • India’s farmtech startup sector raised US$1.1 billion in 2022, a slight drop from US$1.3 billion in 2021. In the coming years, funding attention is likely to get increasingly directed towards upstream agriculture technology or the production side of the agri-supply chain, as well as climate related agritech solutions and innovation.

Market outlook

The global agriculture and farm equipment/machinery market is witnessing robust growth, reaching US$174.12 billion in 2023, with projections to reach USD 184.69 billion in 2024, reflecting a 6.1 percent CAGR. This growth is attributed to factors such as education, research, infrastructure development, industrialization of agriculture, advancements in crop science, and rural labor scarcity.

Anticipated trends include rising global food demand, increased mechanization and automation, adoption of smart farming solutions, sustainable agriculture initiatives, and precision agriculture, making the sector more investment-friendly. Key trends in the forecast period involve collaboration, labor scarcity and efficiency, customization, climate change adaptation, and IoT sensor adoption.

In India, the growth of agriculture and farm equipment markets is influenced by a rapidly expanding global population. The United Nations predicts India’s population to increase by two billion people in the next 30 years, reaching 9.7 billion by 2050. Mechanization of farms is essential to meet the growing food demand. The correlation between population growth and increased food demand highlights the importance of agricultural machinery in enhancing productivity and addressing food demand.

Moreover, a surge in demand for organic food is expected to propel the growth of agriculture and farm equipment markets. Organic food, produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs, antibiotics, or other artificial additives, benefits from agricultural machinery for increased efficiency, precision farming, weed and pest management, and soil health promotion.

The Indian government is mulling over the following proposed measures to increase quality farm mechanization:

1. Standardizing the design of equipment, attachments, and parts at the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) level, with the implementation of these standards at the manufacturer’s level.

2. Conducting testing on equipment, attachments, and parts manufactured by different companies to ensure adherence to BIS standards and specifications.

3. Promoting the use of standard parts available on the market in the manufacturing processes of various companies. The availability of standard parts simplifies production and enhances the interchangeability of components and attachments.

4. Providing training to manufacturers in manufacturing technology, specifically focusing on the use of jigs, fixtures, die-punches, templates, and other tooling aids. This training aims to improve the quality of manufacturing processes and enhance the compatibility and matching of components.

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What Is Soil Fertility and Why Is It Important?

Soil fertility is essential for plant development and determines production. Farmers benefit greatly from fertile fields. However, poor agricultural management can result in land depletion. It is vital to remember the value of fertilisers and environmentally friendly farming methods in enhancing field fertility. With proper soil fertility management practises, high yields can be obtained from poor fields. As a result, growers who understand how to protect soil fertility may maximise and sustain farmland productivity.

What Is Soil Fertility?

Soil fertility refers to a soil’s ability to establish favourable chemical, physical, and biological conditions while also providing all of the necessary nutrients for plant growth. Mineral nutrients are not food for plants (since plants make food on their own via photosynthesis), but rather a supplement that gives more energy for plant development.

Nutrients can accelerate plant development, fortify their immune systems against pests and diseases, and boost fertility. Fertile soil is ideal for crop cultivation because it keeps a high level of important micro- and macroelements, ensuring plant strength and health throughout the development cycle. It is impossible to overestimate the value of fertile soil. Fertility is thus one of the first factors agricultural producers examine when planning fieldwork.

soil fertilizer

Causes and Effects of Reduced Soil Fertility

When the amount of nutrients lost from the ground exceeds the amount provided, soil fertility declines. Plants will then draw nutrients from the ground. Reserves are exhausted until there are no more resources for plant development.

The following are the main reasons of soil fertility loss:

  • The application of fertilisers without considering field conditions;
  • Inappropriate cropping system
  • Crop cultivation that is ongoing
  • Extensive tillage
  • Monoculture farming
  • Full crop residue removal
  • Soil erosion and land deterioration
  • Unfavourable weather and climate.

Soil fertility loss has a severe detrimental influence not just on agricultural production but also on the surrounding ecosystems. Desertification, biodiversity loss, water pollution, and possibly harmful alterations in waterways are all consequences of land depletion.

How to Boost Soil Fertility?

Even fertile land begins to deteriorate over time, so fertility needs to be improved as well as protected. Field fertility can be increased through crop rotation, fertilisation, mixed planting, sowing green manure, mulching and fallowing. Earthworms, helpful fungi, bacteria, and protozoan unicellular creatures are all very useful to the soil, and their influence on soil fertility cannot be overstated. They enhance its structure and ability to store water by breaking down organic waste or parasitizing bacteria. Indirectly, natural pest adversaries like birds who consume bug larvae or weed seeds can help improve soil fertility.

Rotation of crops

Season after season, the same crops are grown in the same field, reducing field fertility by extracting the same chemical constituents from the ground. Crop rotation is a feasible solution to this problem because it both reduces land depletion and helps improve soil fertility. Crop rotation increases microflora diversity since each plant has different microbiological preferences. Hay plants and legumes are examples of crops that increase soil fertility.

No-Till Farming

Rejecting tillage enables soil structure to be strengthened and erosive processes to be slowed down. The existence of helpful microbes and worms is sustained at the same time as the amount of organic matter in the soil rises, carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere fall, and these effects. Additionally, farm employees can use the time they would have spent tillage on other, more beneficial tasks. Because it increases soil fertility, saves farmers time and money, and has a favourable effect on the environment, no-till farming is advantageous to everyone.

Fertilization

Although legumes typically make up for the plant’s shortage of nitrogen, sometimes this is insufficient. Additionally, the availability of additional essential nutrients affects the field’s fertility. Consequently, fertilisers are needed.

Also Read: Managing Organic Soil in Farming

Conclusion

For farmers, maintaining the fertility of the land is crucial. Despite the fact that there are many productive fields in the world, farmers should continually maintain soil fertility through wise cultivation. Agricultural producers must also select cultivation techniques that maximise production while taking into account their effects on current and future field productivity as well as the environment in general. 

Govt’s solution for farmers: What it means for each of the parties

An “out-of-the-box” solution has come up in the fourth round of talks between the Central government and the leaders of protesting farmers. For a week, farmers from Punjab have been gathering on the borders with Haryana to reach Delhi to press for their demands. The third round of talks on February 15, just like the two earlier rounds of discussions on February 12 and February 8, was inconclusive.

Farmers demand a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) of crops as per Swaminathan panel formula along with complete farm loan waiver, a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 for all farmers above 60 years, and India’s exit from WTO and free-trade agreements.

Union minister Piyush Goyal, one of the three ministers negotiating with the farmers, has said that both sides deliberated on solutions that would benefit farmers, consumers, and the economy. Under this solution, the government has proposed to purchase entire quantities of masoor, urad, arhar, maize and cotton over the next five years at MSP all over the country.

The purchases would be made only from those farmers who diversify away from paddy and wheat. Government-backed cooperative societies NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India) and NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India) will enter a five-year contract with farmers opting for crop diversification by growing pulses and maize, guaranteeing to purchase produce at MSP. Similarly, for cotton, the Cotton Corporation of India will enter into five-year contracts with farmers to purchase their produce. There will be no limit on the quantity procured.

While this broad proposal will take a final shape if the farmers, who are considering it, accept it, it appears it could be favourable for both the parties, the government and the farmers. The proposal to purchase especially the entire quantities of masoor, urad and arhar can not only be an effective way to break the vicious cycle of wheat-paddy cultivation while also ensuring price support to the farmers who diversify away from these crops, it will also take a big burden off the government which prices of these pulses have became a constant source of trouble.

India’s pulse problem

Pulses are a dinner staple in most parts of India. Despite being the world’s largest producer and consumer of pulses, India imports certain pulses to meet domestic shortages. In chana and moong, the country is self-sufficient but in other pulses like tur and masoor, it still imports to meet the shortages.

India’s annual pulse consumption is estimated at around 23 lakh tonnes of which 15-16 lakh tonnes is produced domestically and the rest is imported from other countries. In the last financial year, India imported 4.85 lakh tonnes of lentils from Canada alone. India imports pulses from Myanmar, Mozambique, Australia and Russia too.

Prices of tur (arhar), urad and masoor, the pulses included in the solution offered to farmers, see heavy price fluctuations, and these fluctuations have a ripple effect on the prices of all other pulses as well, which in turn feeds food inflation.

The country’s pulses problem can be seen in the popularity of the chana pulse the government has started selling. According to Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, the government-procured chana dal sold under the ‘Bharat’ label has quickly gained popularity among consumers, capturing a quarter of the market share within four months of its launch.

Chana dal becomes the substitute for many consumers when other pulses get expensive. Wholesale prices of tur dal have increased 5% in January despite the arrival of new crops and continuing imports from Myanmar as reduced acreage and decreased production for a second consecutive year impact supply, industry representatives had told ET. India has been meeting its domestic requirement of tur dal with imports from Myanmar and Africa. However, supplies from Africa have been facing hurdles from the local government there and those from Myanmar are lower than excepted , industry insider said .

The solution offered to farmers by the government is part of its ongoing efforts to gain self-sufficiency in pulses. In early January, the government launched a new portal to enable Nafed and NCCF to purchase tur dal directly from registered farmers. The portal was launched by Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah. It aims to facilitate the registration, purchase, and direct payment to farmers producing tur dal. Shah said that by January 2028, India will no longer need to import any pulses .

How the proposal can benefit farmers

While the farmers demand a legal guarantee for MSP and the Swaminathan formula to calculate it, there are concerns that these will not only be unviable as the government can’t purchase all the crops on MSP or force the private sector to do so. In the longer term, these benefits will perpetuate the status quo in Punjab, the wheat-paddy cultivation which is leading to excessive use of water and reducing the soil fertility. Punjab has been unable to break out of the wheat-paddy cycle due to heavy subsidies that encourage cultivation of these crops. The state stares at a waterless future as the water table is going down rapidly due to heavy pumping out of water.

For close to two decades, Punjab has struggled with the issue of diversification away from wheat and paddy. Piecemeal measures such as contract farming have failed to scale up. Farmers are not willing to come out of the cycle of wheat and paddy because the government buys most of these crops from them at MSP because it needs the grains for its public distribution system. But now with buffer stocks overflowing, the government no longer needs to keep buying these two crops in large quantities at MSP, also since Madhya Pradesh too has grown its wheat production.

The proposed solution offers farmers not only a guaranteed purchase of the five crops at MSP, but it also has no cap on procurement which means the entire crop will be procured. This means ample safety for farmers who are not willing to diversify without price support. If this solution is accepted, in future more crops could be included.

On the face of it, it’s a win-win situation for both farmers and the government while consumers, the other less-talked about stakeholders, also stand to benefit. Further negotiations between farmers and the government can give a final shape to the proposal which is now in a rudimentary form.

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