Poor, Degraded Soil Hampers Paddy Growth in Punjab

The paddy cultivation in Punjab is unviable for farmers as the Punjab has been in the top of list in the production of food since the beginning of the green revolution. Now the situation has changed due to excessive use of fertilizers has rendered the soil in several districts of the state unsuitable for growing paddy.  It is not the problem of depleting water table, the more pressing problem in Punjab for the paddy grower farmers is the rapidly growing soil quality, which has made paddy cultivation difficult  due to soil`s poor and degradation quality.

According to the latest report of the soil survey division of the department of soil and water conservation, survey carried out in Moga, Barnala, SBS Nagar, SAS Nagar, Fategarh Sahib, Patiala and Sangrur districts showed severe soil degradation due to wheat and paddy cropping pattern introduced in the state during the Green Revolution.    

Due to over-exploitation and excessive use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides, the soil has degraded, which has led to further decrease in water holding capacity of the soil and its friable and loose structure of soil. The farmers, in order to increase the yields, are pumping in more nitrogen and phosphorous into the soil, leading to further degradation. The soil is suitable for growing wheat, groundnuts, soybean and vegetables but not rice,” said an official of the soil and water conservation department. Now, all the 12,400 villages in the state will be mapped for their soil health and land use. Sources said the department will collaborate with the Nagpur-based National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning for generating land resource inventory database at village level, using GIS technology. This means the department will have complete land and soil data of each and every village for better planning and implementation of various developmental schemes. 

The soil surveys are aimed at providing complete inventory of properties of soils such as texture, erosion, permeability, depth, slope and drainage, salinity, stoniness, wetness, fertility and various topographical features of specific area. These soil samples are tested for macro and micro nutrient contents at soil testing laboratory of Punjab Agriculture University,” the official said.

According to a National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development report of 2015-16, Punjab contributed nearly 29 percent rice to the central pool. More than 30 lakh hectares of area in Punjab is under paddy cultivation in the state. The state government’s plan to bring it down by over one lakh hectares to around 28 lakh hectares this year has failed. Soil survey report of  7 districts. Sangrur: Soil is alkaline and at some places, slightly to moderate sodic in nature. Not suitable for paddy cultivation.  SAS Nagar, Patiala, Fategarh Sahib: Not fit for paddy. Barnala: Soil is unfit for paddy cultivation as 88 percent area has medium carbon content and 46 percent is high in phosphorus. SBS Nagar: Soil is alkaline and low in organic matter in 20 percent area, while it is high in phosphorous in 63 percent area.  Moga: Medium to high potassium content. Soil has low nitrogen.

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