Irshad is a farmer in Nuh district in Haryana. In his three acres of land, he primarily cultivates pearl millet, wheat, and mustard. Despite being a hardworking farmer, Irshad’s crop yields and agricultural income was limited because he was using traditional farming practices in both his kharif and rabi season crops for more than a decade. He was using the fertilizers, urea and DAP, as is the practice of most farmers in the villages of Nuh. He had never thought of using balanced nutrients in his agriculture lands for improving productivity and quality of his crops.
In April 2021, as part of a CSR-supported agriculture development project implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation, farmers meetings were organized in his village. Irshad also attended a number of these meetings and gradually learned about the importance of using micronutrients such as fertilizers like zinc, potash, sulphur, among others, for improving crop yields. He understood that adding micronutrients to the soil rectifies the damage to the soil caused by the excessive use of urea and DAP.
In September 2021, the Village Development Committee (VDC) created by the project team, selected Irshad for setting up a demonstration of mustard cultivation using a modern Package of Practices (PoP) being promoted by the project team. He set up the demonstration in one acre of his land, where he used the balanced nutrients PoP method in half an acre; and in the other half, he grew the crop as per his usual traditional method of cultivation.
In addition to this, on his own initiative and cost, he adopted this PoP method in another one acre of his land to also cultivate mustard.
Where the balanced nutrients PoP method were used, Irshad noticed improved germination as high as about 90 percent, and better crop quality like broader leaves and darker color. The production in the half-acre demonstration plot was 5.4 quintals, while the control plot yielded 4.6 quintals. Thus there was an increase of 0.8 quintals or 80 kg in a half-acre, due to the use of balanced fertilizers, the market rate of which is around INR 5,400.
Irshad is impressed, and has now started providing information about using balanced fertilizers in mustard cultivation with other farmers, on his own initiative.
Irshad says, “From now onwards I will always use balanced fertilizers in the cultivation of all my crops and in all of my land, and I will share the results with fellow farmers.”
Authors: Aarif and Shashank Devra
(Aarif is project associate in Nuh and Shashank is program lead, Local Participation and Sustainability, S M Sehgal Foundation)