Margao: Farmers of Salcete are not coming forward in testing their cultivable soil despite the fact that this free service under the central soil health card scheme can help improve the soil condition and gradually increase the yield.
Salcete taluka has average acidic land which is not favourable for most of the fruit-bearing trees except coconut, cashew and mango trees.
Statistics available at the soil testing laboratory based in Margao and catering to entire South Goa district indicates that there is a gradual drop in the number of farmers testing the soil that they use to cultivate paddy and other crops in the south.
While the financial year 2017- 18 showed as many as 1314 soil samples were checked to access soil fertility and other parameters, the number went down in the following year to 613. The current financial year 2019-2020 till date, has recorded 395 soil samples across the district. Most of these soil samples are brought only after the farmers experience problems in the yield.
“We do not know why the farmers are reluctant in testing the soil, which they use for cultivation. It is always good to check the soil they cultivate. This will increase the yield too. We hold periodic awareness programmes highlighting the importance of soil testing, but farmers are not forthcoming,” says Swapnil Sunktankar the officer in-charge of the soil testing laboratory, Margao which was inaugurated in 2016 to provide the service in the South Goa district.
The laboratory sources informed that the Salcete taluka has acidic land with 5.5 to 6.0 pH, slightly lesser than the normal (7.0 pH) and hence it is not favourable for fruit bearing plants except mango and cashew. While the land at Sanguem and Quepem is even more acidic with a recorded 4.5 pH.
Why is it acidic? Sunktankar explains, “With the heavy rain that lashed the state, the calcium and magnesium from the soil within the city limits gets leached out and as a result the concentration of aluminium and iron increases.
Phosphorous and potassium in the soil attaches to the aluminum and therefore the acid increases in the soil mostly in Salcete. The plant, fruit bearing trees cannot take in the soil nutrients even though it is available in the soil for them,’’ he adds.
The official said that based on soil testing reports an advisory is issued to the farmers. He said that farmers are advised on what fertilizer is to be used its quantity and directions.
When the soil testing reports are done, the farmers are explained about the 12 parameters, pH, electrical conductivity, organic carbon, available nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur, micro nutrients like boron, iron, magnesium, copper and zinc,’’ the officer said.