‘Random use of chemical fertiliser spoils soil fertility’

Published : 26 Jul 2023 09:48 PM

Fertility of agricultural land in Meherpur is under dire threat as the farmers are increasingly using Chemical fertilizers including salt with potassium sulfate, hoping higher yield.

Due to the increase in salinity, the crop production capacity of the soil is decreasing day by day. As a result, arable agricultural land is under threat. 

While Soil fertility is decreasing, crop disease rate is increasing. According to Meherpur Agriculture Department, currently the number of cultivated land is 58 thousand 507 hectares. 

This is less than last 5 years. About 200 hectares of arable land has decreased in the last 5 years due to changes in land classification, construction of various infrastructures and reduction in the production capacity of the land due to digging of ponds etc. 

However, the arable land has decreased to only 10 hectares according to the government data. 

Also in Meherpur, most of the farms are cultivated on lease or Bandak (for an indefinite period in exchange for money) of others.

High levels of chemical fertilizers, sometimes potassium sulfate, are used in these lands in the hope of higher yields. 

The agriculture department says that long-term use of chemical fertilizers or saline fertilizers on agricultural land is reducing the pH (power of hydrogen - difference between acidity and alkalinity) levels. As a result the soil is becoming acidic.

Meherpur Sadar Upazila Agriculture Officer Alamgir Hossain said, Meherpur is an agriculture dependent district.

The soil of this district is very fertile. Crop intensity is higher than any other district in the country. Most of the land in this district is high and no land is lying. 

A field has 3 to 6 crops in a year. But lately, the use of chemical fertilizers has increased so much, especially for corn, onion, banana, tobacco and other high-value crops, where twice the recommended fertilizer is used in research, which is very harmful to the fertility of the land. 

It is already being observed that the fertility of the land is decreasing due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers and salt. 

In the last financial year, we have tested the soil from various fields of Meherpur Sadar Upazila, it shows that the pH value of the soil in almost all the fields is below 6, which should be above 7. That is, the soil is becoming acidic and the organic matter content is below 2%, which should be 5% of the ideal soil organic matter. It is an indication of reduced productivity of the soil.

About 53% of the coastal areas of Bangladesh are directly affected by salinity. At present, the salinity affected area is gradually increasing beyond the coastal areas of the country. 

In order to maintain the agricultural tradition of Meherpur, which is famous for its vegetable reserves, it is necessary to avoid the use of excessive chemical fertilizers and to use moderate fertilizers and to use sufficient organic fertilizers, said Deputy Director of Meherpur Agriculture Extension Directorate, Sankar Kumar Majumdar. 

He said, if possible, jute or dal crops should be cultivated in the land once a year, it will increase the fertility of the land.