Kindly elaborate the status of soil degradation in India.
Soils in India are subjected to a number of eroding forces-wind and water erosion accelerated by rapid cutting down of trees and faulty agricultural practices such as flood irrigation, keeping land fallow during summers, leading to losses through wind erosion and so on. This has led to loss of topsoil in millions of hectares, while all major rivers are clogged with silt, thus resulting to frequent floods. The loss of top soil results in diminishing return on inputs. This leads to higher input and more environmental damage, and the vicious cycle continues.
How does non-judicious use of agro-chemicals and fertilisers affect soil health?
Non judicious use of fertiliser are very harmful for the soil health. It affects the environment by causing irreversible pH changes in soil leading to imbalance of soil ecosystem and making land unfit for use. It also contaminates water bodies and groundwater, leading to human and cattle health hazards. Another important point of concern is imbalance of nutrients due to myopic and unscientific government policies of subsidies on some fertilisers, leading to endemic deficiencies of nutrients. And the last, but not the least, affect of these chemicals is that near zero soil organic matter leads to soil compaction and degradation of soil structure
What measures are required to manage soil health in India?
All inputs required for farming should be priced in balanced manner so that balanced nutrition may be encouraged. Proper soil mapping of the villages should be done to ensure correct usage of fertilisers. There should be funding of soil reclamation programmes and watershed development. A Training programme should be conducted for farmers to prevent soil erosion, water conservation, minimum intervention farming and growing of cover crops in summer season. One should also encourage generation of organic manures- farm yard manure, crop residues and stubbles, city compost and green manuring. Organic manures and soil conditioners should be subsidised. Ban on brick kilns- fly-ash based bricks to be encouraged in brick making. And the most importantly there should be ban on hazardous agro-chemicals and technology mission on biological pesticides
What are the initiatives your company has taken so far to maintain soil health in India?
The most important initiative taken by us is educating the farmers on judicious use of fertilizers and agro-chemicals. We encourage the use of biological pesticides as means to prevent pests and diseases. We also aggressively promote soil conditioners- products that correct the soil degradation by reversing soil compaction and repair the structure, thereby increasing the water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil. These products also provide wholesome nutrition to the plant for its growth. Promoting spray adjutants that prevent wastage and resultant runoff of agro-chemicals in the soil. This helps in three-way manner, reducing water requirement. Reducing cost of spraying by saving agro-chemicals quantity and reducing the frequency of spraying is also one of the important initiatives by us.