Saturday, 15 July 2006

Managing Soils in the Hills of Nepal through Site-Specific Integrated Plant Nutrition Systems.

Basu D. Regmi Sr.1, Neeranjan P. Rajbhandari1, Chhabi L. Paudel1, Bishnu K. Dhital1, Juerg Merz2, and Juerg Merz2. (1) Sustainal Soil Management Programme, G P O Box 688, Kathmandu, Nepal, (2) Sustainable Soil Management Programme, P O Box 688, Kathmandu, Nepal

Managing agricultural soils in the Hills of Nepal is challenging because of fragile ecosystems and the country's steep topography. Declining in soil fertility is being reported by scientific and farming communities as a serious problems threatening farmers well being. Managing agricultural soils therefore essential and challenging as well. Integrated Plant Nutrition System (IPNS) is a holistic approach, which integrates all components of soil, plant and nutrients management so as to achieve higher crop yield and better soil health. The Farmers' Field School (FFS) approach is being used to disseminate concept of plant nutrition management in the Hills of Nepal for each site. Soil analysis is done to assess the plant nutrients status in the soils and nutrients balance sheet is prepared discussing together with farmers. Farmers' learnt acidic soil management through organic matter management, and more than 60 percent farmers adopted improved Organic Matter (OM) management practice, and farmers realized splitting dose of nitrogenous fertilizers leads to higher yields. Farmers groups got empowered through regular meetings and close observation of plant growth stages and soil agro- ecosystems. Farmers became capable in handling soil analysis particularly nitrate nitrogen and pH and soil microbes using tools such as nitrate strips, pH strips, hydrogen peroxide, erosion control box, and pictures of deficiency symptoms. Application of lime increased soil pH, which ultimately increased the crop yield positively as well as ameliorated soil-fertility status in the soils. Soil analysis reports have shown that there is increase of soil-fertility status particularly OM, Nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) has increased compare to base year even within one to three year time span. Micronutrients particularly Boron (B) for wheat and cauliflower, Molybdenum (Mo) in cauliflower, and Zinc (Zn) for maize found to be the important for yield limiting factor. The addition of 2 kg/ha B increased wheat yield by 20 per cent and cauliflower by 45 percent. It was also reported that application of urine in cauliflower corrected B deficiency symptoms, however more research needs to be done to assess the effect of liquid manure on level of micronutrient content. The IPNS concept was found to be appropriate to mitigate soil-fertility problems in marginal agricultural land and FFS proved to be the best tool to disseminate technology to the grass root levels in farming communities.

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