Punjab Agricultural Universitys nutrient management raises rice yields

December 11th, 2007 - 1:16 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, December 11 (ANI): Researchers at Punjab Agricultural University have attained a significant success in increasing average rice yields in Punjab with the help of site-specific nutrient management strategies.

The researchers made this advance by working with collaborators from the International Rice Research Institute, and Virginia Tech.

Punjab, which accounts for 10 percent of the Indian rice production, has been witnessing a slower rice grain yield growth rate as compared to the yield growth rate during the green revolution phase (1960-1986).

The researchers hypothesized that decreased nutrient supply capacity of soil and improper nutrient management approaches were key factors in the slower growth rate.

They analysed the existing soil nutrient composition, and applied site-specific nutrient management (SSNM). This enabled them to increase average rice grain yields by 17 percent compared with current farmers’ fertilizer practice.

The site-specific nutrient management also helped raise profits by about 14 per cent.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of SSNM, the researchers applied calculated amounts of nutrients at 56 sites in six key irrigated rice-wheat regions for two years.

Using the ‘Quantitative Evaluation of the Fertility of Tropical Soils (QUEFTS)’ model, which predicts crop yields from chemical soil characteristics, the scientists refined their nutrient applications and schedules on a site-specific basis.

Besides increasing yield and profits, improved timing of fertilizer applications also raised accumulations of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in the crop by about 13 to 15 per cent.

The authors of the study say that the agronomic and economic successes of SSNM are due to its site-specific and dynamic nature, which take soil variability into account.

They suggest that the major challenges for SSNM will be to reduce the complexity of the technology as it is disseminated to farmers, and to combat environmental pollution stemming from nutrient leaching and runoff from rice fields.

“Site-specific nutrient management, as defined in our study, has potential for improving yields, profit, and nitrogen use efficiency in irrigated, transplanted rice,” said the study’s author Harmandeep Singh Khurana.

“Future research needs to build on the present SSNM approach to develop a more practical approach for achieving similar benefits across large areas without farm-specific modelling and with minimum crop monitoring,” Khurana added.

The study has been reported in Agronomy Journal. (ANI)

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