Use natural manures to save money, retain soil quality: Experts to orchardists

Use natural manures to save money, retain soil quality: Experts to orchardists
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Shopian, Pulwama districts to spend Rs 90 crore this year on fertilisers, spray oils

SHOPIAN: Shopian and Pulwama districts will spend Rs 90 crore, approximately this year on fertilisers and spray oils. Horticulture experts suggest orchardists to use maximum of natural manures which according to them would save them money as well as the quality of soil.
Orchardists say that it’s their faith in Almighty Allah that they spend heavily without knowing what the weather conditions and what the fate of the crop would be.
Horticulture and agriculture officials told Kashmir Reader that 30,900 kilo litres of spray oils and 45,840 metric tons of fertilisers were estimated to be bought by growers in these twin districts of south Kashmir.
According to horticulture estimates, Pulwama spends about Rs 26 crores on fertilisers and 13 crores on spray oils while as Shopian consumes spray oils worth Rs 22 crores and Rs 24 crores on fertilisers. Other than three compulsory fertilisers like Urea, DAP and Potash, orchardists also use several other fertilisers like Calcium Nitrate and Boron which too costs around Rs 15 crores, said an official from horticulture department.
Orchardists said that whenever they skipped the oil spray there was huge damage to fruits. “We never take such risks but in recent past, due to inclement weather, we didn’t spray oil and that year was worst in terms of diseases like San Jose scale,” Muhammad Yasin Mir, a resident from Trenz area said.
A senior scientist from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology, Kashmir (SKAUST-K), Dr Tariq Rasool told Kashmir Reader that spray oil (horticulture mineral oil, HMO) helps in eradicating three major diseases that is, San Jose scale, red might and it also acts as insecticide.
“No spray oil can help in 100 percent prevention of diseases but HMO stops the developing of eggs of San Jose scale and red mite diseases after making a layer on it,” he said adding that all oils available in market were feasible for spraying including diesel but said that diesel spraying was ‘a bit hectic’.
Officials from horticulture department say that oil spray is vital to curb many diseases like San Jose scale, an insect “which sucks the aqua vitae from trees”.
Rasool explains that orchardists must use natural decomposed manures instead of chemicals. “For an apple tree, aged more than 15 years, orchardists should use 2.5 kilograms of Potash, 2 kilograms of Urea and 500 to 750 grams of DAP and accordingly to the lower age trees,” he said adding that all the suggestions about use of fertilisers should be given on soil test basis but in Kashmir “there is not any such mechanism”.
Another horticulture expert said that oil sprays were critical for controlling outburst of San Jose scale that results in reducing vigour of plants, thinning foliage and death of the tree.
South Kashmir’s Shopian district has 19,000 hectares of land under horticulture which consists mostly of apple, cherry and pear trees, while its neighbouring and Pulwama district has 15,500 hectares under horticulture cultivation which also includes almond crop.
Experts believe that excess use of fertilisers will lead to destruction of soil properties which in turn leads to low yield as well as less age of trees. “Use of organic manure is best for all-round development of trees, good crop as well as for saving soil properties,” they maintained.

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