Soil degradation

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  • 1. 1 SOIL DEGRADATION: A THREAT TO INDIAN AGRICULTURE Policies to Prevent Further Deterioration Dr. M. Dhakshinamoorthy, Professor of Soil Science, TNAU, CoimbatoreINTRODUCTION India is blessed with a wide array of soil types that would have developedin the subcontinent as a direct consequence varying climatic conditions andvegetations. According to the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land UsePlanning (NBSS & LUP), taxonomically eight out of twelve Soil Orders in theworld exist in India. The Inceptisols (alluvial soils) cover nearly one-third of thegeographical area of the country. The arable land available per head has beenreduced by 50% in the past fifty years from 0.34 ha (1950) to 0.16 ha (1998-99).The land available for cultivation is shrinking at an alarming rate due to theexponential growth of urbanization that commensurate with increasing proportionof lands unsuitable for cultivation of crops (Yadav, ,2002). It is utmost essentialto promote the soil productivity in order to maintain the achievement alreadymade in realizing self-sufficiency in food grain production. India has beenexposed to a very high degree of soil degradation within the club of developingcountries. According to the latest estimate, 187.7 million hectares (57.1%) of thetotal geographical area (329 million hectares) is degraded. The degraded landencompasses water erosion (148.9 million ha), chemical hazard (13.8 m ha) winderosion (13.5 m ha), water logging (11.6 m ha), salinization (10.1 m ha) andnutrient depletion (3.7 m ha). In this paper, various soil degradation hazards and their impacts on agro-ecosystems and suggested policies to be orchestrated in order to prevent furtherdeterioration. 1. SOIL EROSION Soil erosion is the surface removal of productive soil by means of water,and wind that is the prime environmental costs in agriculture. Soil erosion aloneconstitutes 86.5% of land degradation that is considered the most serious hazard(Table 1). Approximately 5334 million tonnes of productive soil is being carriedaway by erosion that accounts for 16.4 t/ha/year. The eroded soils leaches outvaluable plant nutrients to the tune of 5.0 to 8.4 million tonnes every year whichaccounts for Rs. 6,100 to 21, 600 crores of estimated loss of money. Theremoved soil gets accumulated in the reservoirs and thereby reducing theirstorage capacity by 1-2% every year. Erosion has been accelerated in recenttimes by vegetation removal, over exploitation of forest cover, excessive grazingand faulty agricultural practices.
  • 2. 2 Table 1: Soil degradation statistics (million hectares) Types 1994 1997 Soil erosion 162.4 167.0 Salt affected soils 10.1 11.0 Water logging 11.6 13.0 Shifting cultivation NA 9.0 Total 175.0 187.8 Sehgal and Abrol (1994)Government programmes introduced for Soil Conservation Year Programme / Policies Special features Restoration of ecological balance by1978 Desert Development Programme harnessing, conserving and developing natural resources Policy planning for the scientific1985 National Land Use and Wasteland management of the countrys land Development Council resources Review the implementation of ongoing schemes and programs connected with conservation and development of land resources and soils1985 National Land Use and Conservation Board Formulate a national policy and perspective plan for conservation, management and development of land resources of the country Formulate a perspective plan for the management and development of1985 National Wastelands Development wastelands in the country Board Identify the waste land and assess the progress of programmes and schemes for the development of wasteland Create a reliable data base and documentation centre .for waste land development
  • 3. 3 To devise an effective administrative procedures for regulating land use for further deterioration1988 National Land Use Policy Allocation of land for different uses based on land capability, productivity and goals in order to restore the productivity of degraded lands Adopt soil and moisture conservation measures such as terracing, bunding1989- Integrated Wastelands Development etc.90 Project Enhance peoples participation in wasteland development programmes Regulation of land use and urban Constitution(74th Amendment ) Act,1992 planning brought under the domain of 1992 urban self-governing bodies Formulation of Integrated Land Resource Management Policies1999 Department of Land Resources Implementation of land based development programsPolicy Suggestions to Prevent Soil Erosion The erosion being the monstrous factor associated with soil degradation, itis appropriate to develop holistic strategies to minimize the erosion hazard andconserve soil productivity • Well-defined database and mapping of various types of soil degradation hazard is very much required to develop strategies that maybe widely adoptable. This task can be accomplished using Geographical Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing Techniques. • Encourage rural population and tribal communities to utilize the non- conventional energy sources such as biogas plants in order to prevent overexploitation of forest cover • Provision of incentives may be a cost effective measure to encourage farmers to adopt soil conservation practices
  • 4. 4 • Research should focus on the sustainable farming practice "Integrated Crop Management " instead of looking at the crop production system multi-dimensionally • Proposed land use policy should form a basis for integrated approach comprising different components such as land, soil and water • Despite huge sum of money has been invested on watershed projects, the data generated from these programmes are considered deficient and requires clarity. A detailed database is required from each watersheds that enable the policy makers to relate money invested and productivity gains.Conservation of Soil Resources India is blessed with a wide array of soil types. According to the NationalBureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS & LUP), taxonomicallyeight out of twelve Soil Orders in the world exist in India. The Inceptisols (alluvialsoils) cover nearly one-third of the geographical area of the country. The arableland available per head has been reduced by 50% in the past fifty years from0.34 ha (1950) to 0.16 ha (1998-99). The land available for cultivation is shrinkingat an alarming rate. It is imperative to promote the soil productivity in order tomaintain the achievement already made in the past. India has been exposed to a very high degree of soil degradation withinthe club of developing countries. According to the latest estimate, 187.7 millionhectares (57.1%) of the total geographical area (329 million hectares). Thedegraded land encompasses water erosion (148.9 million ha), chemical hazard(13.8 m ha) wind erosion (13.5 m ha), water logging (11.6 m ha), salinization(10.1 m ha) and nutrient loss (3.7 m ha). Erosion alone constitutes 86.5% of landdegradation that leaches out valuable plant nutrients to the tune of 5.0 to 8.4million tonnes every year. Approximately 5334 million tonnes of productive soil isbeing carried away by erosion that accounts for 16.4 t/ha/year. The removed soilgets accumulated in the reservoirs and thereby reducing their storage capacityby 1-2% every year. The data vividly suggest that there is an urgent need tobestow utmost importance to conserve the soil and improve the farm productivity.Water Resources Management The annual average precipitation in India is about 400 million haequivalent to 1% of the world’s average. Still India faces acute water shortagesas a direct consequence of erratic and uncertain rainfall in both in terms of timeand space but due to faulty management as well. A significant portion of water isbeing lost through runoff, deep percolation and flow into the sea. In many waterbalance studies it has been shown that the annual rainfall exceeds potentialevapotraspiration (ET) indicating ample opportunities to store excess rainwater
  • 5. 5and use it for irrigation during rain-free periods. Rainwater harvesting helps inrecharging groundwater and it constitutes an important component in improvedwatershed management, with long-term vision of using land and water resourcesfor higher productivity and sustainability. The Tamil Nadu Government has madean earnest but stern effort by legislating the rainwater-harvesting mandatory inpublic and private buildings. Water harvesting has been assigned top-mostpriority especially in the rainfed areas to promote diversification andintensification of agriculture with an added advantage of safeguarding farmersagainst frequent drought. Recognizing the pivotal role of irrigation in augmenting agriculturalproduction, about 90 million hectares of irrigation potential including major,medium and minor projects has been created. The country has 59 million ha ofnet area irrigated accounting for 21.5% of the total irrigated area (274 million ha)in the world. Approximately 38% of the total cropped area is irrigated with 134%cropping intensity. After harnessing all available water resources an ultimateirrigation potential of 139 million ha is contemplated. However, the faultyirrigation management practices reduce the irrigation efficiency by 30-40%. Thewater is being wasted in storage, conveyance and delivery. The traditionalconcept of “more the water higher the crop yields” still persists with a majority ofcultivators. Judicious use of irrigation water is essential to harness the benefits ofGreen Revolution for a long period of time. The “Micro-irrigation Method” is notmerely an irrigation technology, it is an integrated management tool in the handsof the farmer. In addition to the water savings, other consequential benefits ofthis technology far outweigh its own principal advantage. In Micro-water IrrigationSystems (MIS), water is applied to the root zone at slow speed under lowpressure and measured rate. This process saturates the effective root zone andassists banana, citrus and tomato plants to yield higher by 50% in comparison toflood irrigation with water saving of 40-60%. On an outset, it is clear thatagricultural growth and development is sustainable only when we choose to usethe costly limited water and land resources with the help of modern science andtechnology without losing the sight of traditional watershed and water harvestingpractices.Natural Resource Management through GIS Increasing crop production requires bringing more area under agriculture,increasing cropping intensity and productivity. Such an effort requiresidentification and delineation of culturable wastelands, increasing irrigationpotential and optimal management of judicious use of land and water resources.In this context, comprehensive and reliable information on land use, wastelands,area under agricultural crops, water resources, hazard or natural calamities suchas drought and flooding are essential in order to make précised and quickdecisions. In short span of three decades, space borne remote sensing has
  • 6. 6emerged as a front running provider of information required for many agriculturaland allied activities. The utility of geographical information system (GIS) ispercolating down to the grass root level to take farming decisions at the micro-level. The data generated from the GIS is widely used by the policy makers totake accurate decisions.Integrated Nutrient Management Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) refers to the maintenance of soilfertility and plant nutrient supply to an optimum level for sustaining the desirablelevel of crop productivity through the concomitant use of organic, inorganic andbiofertilizer inputs. Fertilizer application has significantly contributed for theenhanced grain production in the country. In the past fifty years, the fertilizerconsumption has increased by 6 times from 3 (1950) to 18 million tonnes (2000)that commensurate with four-fold increase in food grain output. It has beenobserved that the indiscriminate use of nitrogenous fertilizers appears to affectthe quality of crops through nitrate pollution in the groundwater. Further, theuse of high analysis fertilizers with exclusion of micronutrients in intensivecropping systems has caused deficiencies of micronutrients. It has been reportedthat the occurrence of micronutrients deficiencies to an extent of 46%, 9%, 5%and 4%, Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, respectively (Singh and Saha, 1995). Correction ofmicronutrient disorders is needed for sustainable farm production. A holistic approach is to be adopted in order to maintain the balancebetween the crop removal and addition of fertilizers. Balanced fertilizerapplication is imperative for sustained productivity. In India, the problem iscompounded by imbalanced fertilizer use, leading to widening of NPK ratio from5.9: 2.4: 1 in 1991-92 to 10: 2.9: 1 in 1996-97 as against the optimum ratio of 4 :2: 1 (Yadav, 2002). Most of Indian soils are deficient but excessive use of Nalone fails to produce sustainable yields over a long period. Achieving balancebetween the nutrient requirements of crops and the nutrient reserves in the soilsis essential for maintaining high yields and soil fertility, preventing environmentalcontaminations and sustaining agricultural productions over the long-term. The decline in crop yields due to continuous use of inorganic fertilizers hasbeen observed throughout the world. Therefore increasing need is being felt tointegrate nutrient supply with organic sources to restore the soil health.Biofertilizers offer an economically attractive and ecologically sound means ofreducing external inputs and improving the quality and quantity of internalresources. These are inputs containing microorganisms that are mobilizingnutrients from non-usable to usable through biological processes. The beneficialmicrobes include N fixers, P solubilizers and mycorrhizas that could be able tosave inorganic sources of nutrients by 25-30% with an additional benefit ofenvironmental safety. Harnessing earthworms as versatile bioreactors toconvert biodegradable organic wastes into useful manures is referred asvermicompost. The vermicompost is enriched organic manure carrying all the
  • 7. 7essential nutrients and growth hormone required by crops. Application ofvermicompost @ 5 t ha-1 found to improve soil physico-chemical propertiesthereby enhancing farm production. Therefore substitution organic andbiomanures are essential to improve the crop productivity and to circumvent theill-effects of over-use of inorganic fertilizers in agricultural production system.Integrated Pest Management Overexploitation of natural resources and excessive chemical pesticides usein agriculture has led to poor sustainability of farm production. In the year 2000-01, 50, 464 tonnes of pesticides have been used in agriculture and the quantitygets unabated in the years to come. Despite IPM package has been developedtwo decades ago, the adoption at the grass root level is far from desirable. Indiais cherished with a wide range of botanicals with pesticidal value. The neem“wonder tree” has enormous potential in offering protection against insect peststhat has to be fully exploited. More than 1000 plant species are known to haveinsecticidal properties, 380 anti-feedant properties, 300 species are repellentsand 30 species each possessing attractant and insect growth regulatorproperties. With a modern advent of biotechnology, resistant genes in wildspecies of crops plants have been employed. India’s consumption of bio-agentssuch as entomophages, botanicals, biopesticides and pheramones is less than1% of the pesticide consumption compared to 12% globally. Use of pestavoidance tactics, enhancement of biological pest suppression and adoption ofother non-chemical methods of pest management would certainly be able tosolve pest problems and improve the competitiveness of Indian agriculture inInternational markets. Manipulation of agro-ecosystem should be made it to lessfavourable to the pests and more congenial atmosphere for the natural enemiesto flare up to keep the pest population well below the threshold level. The agro-ecosystem analysis and Farmers’ Field Schools (FFS) in IPM inthe recent years by the State and Central government departments have beensuccessful. The mission of National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) bythe ICAR has given much fillip to IPM. This ecofriendly technology is highlybeneficial to small and marginal farmers and thus research and extensionactivities should continue to grow. The special training in IPM under the “Womenin Agriculture Programme” assisted in the effective implementation of IPMtechnologies.Post-harvest management The post-harvest management practices are utmost important to improvethe availability food for Indian population. As fruits and vegetables production isseasonal resulting in surplus during peak season and shortage in off-season.Post harvest losses are extremely high for horticultural crops especially fruits andvegetables due to improper handling, storage, marketing, processing and
  • 8. 8distribution systems. Despite the fact that India is the second largest producer offruits and vegetables, per capita availability is lower due to post-harvest losses,accounts for more than 40-60% which can be saved if proper storage facilitiesare created. Unless the post-harvest loss is prevented, the marvelousachievement made in the production will be vitiated. The cost involved in thepreventing the post-harvest losses is much lesser than the cost of production.Thus, there is a need for more sophisticated marketing mechanisms withimproved grading, storage and transport ensuring minimal wastage. Hi-techpackaging and storage technologies available for fruits and vegetables includeModified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP), Controlled Atmospheric Packaging(CAP) and Modified Humidity Packaging (MP) that can be made usable by theproducers in order to enhance the shelf-life of their produce. Zero-energy coolchambers working on the principle of evaporative cooling can be easily adoptableby small and marginal farmers.2. NUTRIENT IMBALANCE IN INDIAN SOILS In the past fifty years, the fertilizer consumption has increasedexponentially by 6 times from 3 (1950) to 18 million tonnes (2000) thatcommensurate with four-fold increase in food grain output. It has been observedthat the indiscriminate use of nitrogenous fertilizers appears to affect the qualityof crops through nitrate pollution in the groundwater. A holistic approach is to beadopted in order to maintain the balance between the crop removal and additionof fertilizers. Balanced fertilizer application is imperative for sustainedproductivity. In India, the problem is compounded by imbalanced fertilizer use,leading to widening of NPK ratio from 5.9: 2.4: 1 in 1991-92 to 10: 2.9: 1 in 1996-97 as against the optimum ratio of 4 : 2: 1 (Yadav, 2002). Most of Indian soils aredeficient but excessive use of N alone fails to produce sustainable yields over along period. Achieving balance between the nutrient requirements of crops andthe nutrient reserves in the soils is essential for maintaining high yields and soilfertility, preventing environmental contaminations and sustaining agriculturalproductions over the long-term. The deterioration in soil health caused by imbalanced fertilization has trulyreflected on the annual yield growth rate of several field crops that begin tostagnate over the past few years (Table 2). The data have shown that thedecrease is annual yield growth rate of food grains from 3.33 to 1.42%, from 2.47to 1.28% in the case of non-food grains and from 2.99 to 1.34% in case of allcrops. Cotton registered even a negative growth rate. Despite the use ofimproved crop varieties and production technologies, the declining trend is as aconsequence of the deceleration in total factor productivity. This is a seriousconcern in achieving targeted productions.Table. 2: Average annual growth rate (%) in yield of major crops of India Crops 1980 - 1990 1991 - 1999 Cereals 3.43 1.63
  • 9. 9 Pulses 2.63 0.65 Oilseeds 2.73 1.62 Sugarcane 1.81 1.08 Cotton 3.56 -0.47 All Crops 2.99 1.34 (Swaminathan, 2000) The statistics on soil deterioration in conjunction with stagnation in cropyields vividly suggest that there is an urgent need to bestow utmost importanceto balanced fertilization to enable sustainable farm productivity. Plausible policiesare to be orchestrated by both the Central and State governments to reducefurther deterioration in soil quality.Suggested Policies for the maintenance of soil nutrient balance There are new developments in the mission to maintain soil nutrientbalance that receive bountiful of appreciation from farmers, extensionfunctionaries, scientists and students. The following technologies are to bepopularized both by Central and State Governments. • Fertilizer subsidy to a specific fertilizer may be avoided. Decontrol of nitrogenous fertilizers especially for urea has triggered its excessive use in crop production with consequential groundwater pollution. • The organic status of most Indian soils has declined drastically due to continuous use of inorganic fertilizers. There is an urgent need to integrate nutrient supply with organic sources to restore the soil health. But the availability of organic manures (especially farm yard manure) is scarce in many pockets of the nation that can be fulfilled by alternate sources of organic manures such as vermicompost, composted coir wastes and farm wastes may be encouraged. • Research on farm level nutrient balance studies has to undertaken in order to assess the emerging trends in nutrient deficiencies or toxicities in agro-ecosystems. The NUTMON tool box which is a computer software that can generate nutrient balance to determine the nutrient inflow and outflow in micro-level farming situations as well as regional and national scale. The outcome of this research programme will be useful for policy makers to plan for a sustainable nutrient management. • Appropriate computer-aided decision support system can be lavishly used for scientific fertilizer prescription in the mission of soil fertility management. The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Department of Soil Science in Coimbatore, has developed a computer assisted Decision Support System for Integrated Fertilizer Management
  • 10. 1 (DSSIFER). The DSSIFER is an effective tool to provide fertilizer prescription, ameliorative measures for problem soil management and other improved agronomic practices for cultivation of crops. • Suitable Government policies must be evolved to distribute Soil Health Card (SHC) nation-wide to the farmers for use. The SHC is similar to the ration card of a farm family who can make entries of the nutrient management practices in the card on a regular basis to enable them to identify the production constraints and take up suitable actions for sustainable farming. • Encourage farmers to adopt Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) practices to the maintain soil fertility and plant nutrient supply to an optimum level for sustaining the desirable level of crop productivity through the concomitant use of inorganic, organic and biofertilizer inputs. • Biofertilizers offer an economically attractive and ecologically sound means of reducing external inputs and improving the quality and quantity of internal resources. These are bioinputs that are mobilizing nutrients from non-usable to usable through biological processes. The beneficial microbes include N fixers, P solubilizers and mycorrhizas that could be able to save inorganic sources of nutrients by 25-30% with an additional benefit of environmental safety. • Research priorities should include developing recommendations and technologies for fertilizer and organic matter management for specific soils, climate and crops as part of precision agriculture. .3. MICRONUTRIENT STATUS OF INDIAN SOILS In India, the continuous cultivation of crops with high analysis straightfertilizers has pronounced a sharp decline in availability of micronutrients in soilsand this associated with a reduction in nutritional qualities of agricultural produceand crop yields (Anon, 2003). It has been reported that the occurrence ofmicronutrients deficiencies in Indian soils to an extent of 46%, 9%, 5% and 4%,Zn, Fe, Cu and Mn, respectively (Singh and Saha, 1995). Consequently, both theproduction and consumption of micronutrients have increased by 30% in threeyears during 1999 - 2001. Correction of micronutrient disorders is gainingimportance and of utmost need for sustainable farm production. Among themicronutrients, Zn appears to be deficient in most soils in India at varyingintensities with the exception of acidic soil regions where the Zn status is at themoderate level. The inherent ability of the soil to supply boron and sulphur is atthe declining trend and requires replenishment. Augmentation or restoration oflost soil fertility and productivity can be achieved only through addition of
  • 11. 1micronutrient fertilizers and mobilization of their residual effect through propernutrient cycling. The applied micronutrient in the soil is often unavailable to thecrop plants due heavy fixation in soils. Consequently, the micronutrient useefficiency by plants is extremely lower. To make the situation more complex,multiple micronutrient deficiencies are more prevalent than as a single nutrientdeficiency. The response to soil application of micronutrients is vividly indicated infield experiments conducted at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University,Coimbatore Centre of the ICAR-Micronutrient Scheme in the past four decades.The data have shown that Zn application has enhanced the yield of rice, pulses,millets, oilseeds and turmeric to the tune of 25%, 20%, 16.7%, 17.3% and 14.4%,respectively. The response to added Zn is often associated with deficienciesbelow its critical levels in soils. Thus, addition of Zn is imperative in order tomaintain crop yields in various production systems. Next to the Zn, Fe applicationappears to promote yields of millets and sugarcane by 30% and 40%respectively. The deficiency of Fe is often associated with lime status. As milletsand sugarcane are quite sensitive to Fe, they exhibit interveinal chlorosis as aconsequence of calcium induced Fe deficiency. In addition to the soil application,foliar sprays were found to correct nutrient disorders in crop plants. The responsewas more pronounced for pulses than other crops. In addition, pulses haveresponded favourably to foliar spray of Mn and Mo. On an out set , micronutrientfertilization contributes towards the crop yields to the tune of 10-20% dependingon the severity of micronutrient deficiencies.Suggested policies in micronutrient management • Delineation of micronutrient deficiencies in India should be done to create a database as a reference tool for policy making. The ICAR has 15 micronutrient centres of which Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, is one of the oldest Centres carrying out micronutrient research for the past 40 years. The data from various centres can be used to develop database on micronutrient status of Indian soils. The GIS technology may be employed to map the micronutrient deficient regions at the micro and macro levels. • Popularization of computer-assisted software for the identification nutrient disorders in crop plants should be taken up all levels. The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Department of Soil Science, Coimbatore, has developed an innovative computer aided Visual Diagnostic Kit (VDK) that can be used for the identification of nutrient deficiencies and to derive suitable remedial measures. Besides it is a user-friendly tool for the farmers, students, researchers and extension workers to precisely identify nutrient disorders in crop plants.
  • 12. 1 • Research on multi-micronutrient product formulations including chelating compounds has to be carried out in various cropping situations. This may be an effective technology to ameliorate multi- micronutrient deficiencies and sustain farm production. • Studies on economizing micronutrient use through seed pelleting and foliar sprays may be taken. As the utilization of micronutrients by plants is relatively smaller these agro-techniques may be useful in curtailing costs with an added benefit of highest rate of use efficiency.4. ORGANIC FARMING In India, there are also efforts to return back to the organic agriculture inorder to improve the quality of food production and to promote nutritional securityand ensure sustainability. It’s the concept of “Merry Go Around”. Organicproduction system largely excludes the use of synthetically compound fertilizers,pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives. To the extent possible,organic farming rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures,biofertilizers, botanicals and biopesticides to maintain soil productivity and tilth, tosupply plant nutrients and to control weeds and pests. The organic agriculturalproducts fetched US $ 17 billion in the global market in the year 2000 that islikely to double in five years reaching a figure of US $ 31 billion in 2005. Over50% of the global share comes from the USA that gains $ 8 billion through thesale of organic produce. Inside this market place, India’s share is meager0.001%. India is ranking 75 th position in the global organic agriculture scenario.Why there is a vertical shift required from inorganic to organic? The Indianagriculture is beginning to show a sign of yield stabilization, imbalance in soilnutrient status, loss of nutritional security and livelihood of people. India’s organicproduction has touched 14,000 tonnes in 2002, of which 11,000 tonnes had beenexported. The exported organic produce includes coffee, tea, rice, wheat, pulses,oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, cotton and herbal extracts. India is a highlybidiversified country producing a wide array of oriental vegetables and fruits thathas greater export market potential. Organic farming is essential to promoteexport-oriented agriculture and stimulate livelihood of the farming communities. The organic farming in relation of food security of India is yet to beestablished. The primary concern for any Government is to meet the foodrequirement of the people and to ensure hunger free situation in any nation. Tomaintain current rate of food grain production in India without chemical fertilizerinput, additional area has to be brought under cultivation that is hardly possible toachieve (Chhonkar, 2003). Almost all long-term fertilizer experiments conductedby ICAR centres in the country have vividly demonstrated that the integration oforganics and inorganics can produce reasonably higher yields and maintain soilfertility. Despite organics are indispensable in agricultural production system, therealization of its fullest potential is yet to be seen in sustainable grain productivity.
  • 13. 1Suggested policies in organic farming • Policy initiatives are required to demonstrate at the commercial scale that how best the organic agriculture can minimize or eliminate usage of chemicals and costs involved in agricultural production systems. • Efforts are to be geared up to enhance the availability of non- conventional (coir waste compost and vermicompost) and conventional (green manure) sources of organics. • Intense research is necessary to unequivocally prove the nutrient utilization pattern and quality improvement in organically grown agricultural produce. • Research on organic production package for exportable crops such as sugarcane, fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants is very much required • Organic certification centres have to be established in various export zones with a complete set of administrative and analytical facilities as is the one in Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. • Laws and legislation should be in place to monitor the organic production and marketing of agricultural produceCONCLUSIONS The soil degradation is increasing at the alarming proportion and needs tobe circumvented to sustain agricultural production in India. Among variousfactors responsible for soil degradation, erosion appears to be the first anddeserves governmental and non-governmental agencies to take immediate stepsto minimize the hazard. Currently, several policies are in place without muchimpact at the large scale. Maintenance of soil nutrient status may be possible byadopting recently developed innovative site-specific nutrient managementapproaches. Micronutrient fertilization seems to contribute one-fifth of the totalagricultural output deserves much more significance in the years to come. Timelyidentification and ameliorative measures are required to minimize the loss in cropproductivity. Organic movement is gaining momentum in India and itsapplicability is more rationale and reasonable for export oriented agriculture.Sustainability in food security in relation to organic farming is yet to beestablished.
  • 14. 1 REFERENCESChhonkar, P.K. (2003) Organic farming : Science and belief. J. Indian Soc. Soil Sci. 51: 365-377.Singh, M.V. and Saha, J.K. (1995) Twenty sixth progress report of the All India Co-ordinated Scheme of Micro- and Secondary Nutrients and Polluted elements in the Soils and Plants. Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal.Swaminathan, M.S. (2000) Inaugural address at the International Conference on managing Natural Resources for Sustainable Agricultural Production in the 21st Century, New Delhi .Yadav, J.S.P. (2002) Agricultural resource management in India - The challenges. J. Agric. Resource Management. 1: 61-69.