Scientists warns against use of fertilizers without soil and leaf test
Shopian: Though the use of fertilizers for the commercial horticulture sector acts like a lifeline, however, scientists are warning against its excessive use particularly without soil and leaf tests.
The recommendations of self-styled experts and fertilizers, according to them, is taking a huge toll on the horticulture sector as it not only consumes money but also degrades quality of soil.
In Kashmir, thousands of tonnes of fertilizers are being used by the orchardists to have a better commercial horticulture produce. But according to senior soil scientist of SKUAST Kashmir Mushtaq Ahmad, use of inorganic fertilizers without soil and leaf test is wastage of money and results in degradation of soil and fruit quality.
Nazir Ahmad Thoker, an orchardist from Shopian told Kashmir Reader he has not used any fertilizer for the last four years even as the fruit growing is his sole source of income. He said that even though he didn’t use any fertilizer, his crop was the best among the orchardists who used fertilizers in the same period of time. “You can ask the buyers of my fruit, it was shiny and crunchy. I believe soil produces most of the needed nutrients itself, it only needs supplements when trees witness bumper crop,” he said.
When people around Thoker found his crop best they also stopped to use fertilizers and got the best results. “I also adopted this practice and there wasn’t any decline in production but my fruit was shiny and colourful than those who used fertilisers,” said Bilal Ahmad who followed Thoker’s advice.
Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, who is deputed as soil scientist with directorate of extension horticulture said orchardists can only find the quantity of fertilizers needed in their orchards after soil and leaf test. “Its soil test which tells us about the deficiencies of any particular nutrient and or its abundance within the soil. Similarly, leaf tests tell us what nutrients a tree was able to get from soil and what it needs through fertilizers or supplements,” he said.
He said a lot of money can be saved by doing soil test prior to use of fertilizers.
“I can only advise the orchardists who among most are not getting relevant information to get such schedules from their nearest SKUAST wings which are established in every district. Using fertilizers or pesticides as per their own wishes or as per pesticide sellers not only wastes their efforts but also brings them losses,” he said adding that the excessive fertilisers or less fertilizers which the trees need affects the fruit as well as its quality.
Those who grow fruit trees for their own consumption should avoid inorganic fertilisers since they don’t have to compete in the market, he suggests. “They should also do soil tests to know the soil science and use organic manures to meet the deficiencies of the soil through it,” he said.
Dr Wani added that orchardists should avoid ploughing the two feet land around the trunk of a tree as it cuts the fruit roots and affects the health of trees.” The land under the canopy should not be lower than the rest of land but flat than it, “ he said.
Dr Wani said that the best time to take samples for soil and leaf test is in August.