The excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers for last few decades has not only affected the environment but damaged fertility of soil
MULTAN, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 17th Oct, 2020 ) :The excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers for last few decades has not only affected the environment but damaged fertility of soil.
The agricultural soil has become very much weak and unable to produce required or expected yield.Our agriculture sector utterly ignored presence of organic matter (animal dung, tree leaves, crops remains etc) in the soil. Lack of organic matter has destroyed soil fertility. Fertilizers and pesticides could contribute better results only; in case the soil has sufficient organic matter. However, constant use of pesticides and fertilizers has poisoned soil and it is a major reason behind decline in production of different crops, especially wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice and vegetables.
According to agriculture experts, there should be at least five to six percent organic matter in the soil for achieving handsome production. Unfortunately, our agriculture sector ignored organic matter for last many years. Resultantly, soil contained 0.5 percent of organic material only, which is not only weakening soil health but also damaging farmers economically, ultimately loss to country’s economy.
Dean Faculty of Agriculture and Environment Science, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture Multan (MNS-UAM), Dr Shafqat Saeed told APP, the regular use of pesticides and fertilizers poisoned our soil. Although, fertilizers and pesticides are considered important but in case of weak soil, these could not produce better yield. There was dire need to maintain presence of organic matters in soil. When fertilizers were applied in any field,it made special bond with organic matter and thus help in contributing more production. If soil lacks organic material, then fertilizers lose its efficacy because it could not built any bond in soil, which was essential for fertility of soil, Dr Shafqat Saeed explained.
“We have to limit chemical intervention in our agriculture sector. Europe is returning to organic farming now a days, so we will have to promote organic farming along with use of modern agriculture tools or machineries,” he remarked.
Dr Shafqat added” Pakistan is among those countries severely affected by climate changes. Sudden high, low temperatures, unexpected rainfall, changing seasons of crop sowing and harvesting are also big challenges. So, we have to move to smart farming for sustainable agriculture in the country. Smart farming means combination of both traditional as well as modern farming techniques. Modern farming techniques also referred to efficient use of available resources.For health of soil, the agriculture sector should follow traditional methods. However, modern technology should be utilized for sowing, harvesting, grading, marketing and some other necessary operations of crops.
” About excessive use of pesticides, Dr Shafqat Saeed stated that pesticides put negative impact on environment. The low use of pesticides would surely help improving ecosystem, said Shafqat adding that they should also promote artificial intelligence for achieving goal of sustainable agriculture, he suggested. The agriculture expert quoted example of Amazon forest and stated that there was natural system. Fertilizers and pesticides were never used in the forest but it was only natural system which maintained the fertility of the forest. Best ecosystem is also vital for human health, he noted.
Director Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC) MNS-UAM, Dr Zulfiqar advocated applying of traditional as well as modern farming techniques for sustainable agriculture. “We cannot ignore traditional as well as modern farming techniques. Combination of both techniques is essential to get handsome production”. For soil health and its fertility, he supported traditional style farming. However, for crops preparation, he proposed use of modern technologies including artificial intelligence, weather information and modern tools. For example, weather information is very much important in decision making for any farmer.
Dr Zulfiqar remarked that they had to pay focus on soil health. The farming sector would have to discourage excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers. Similarly, crop rotation policy should also be introduced, he stated adding that our farmers were cultivating same crops repeatedly. They should cultivate crops on rotation basis as it would surely help maintaining soil fertility as well as keeping pest attack away from crops. He quoted example of cotton and stated that crop was sown repeatedly and it resulted into consistent attack of pest especially pink bollworms. He proposed that farmers should cultivate some other crops, contrary to last year crop in particular fields.
Dr Zulfiqar told, farmers should also rear animals, hens, plant trees and mulch crops residue instead of burning it.
Progressive farmers and representatives of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad Mian Ishnaaq Watto and Khalid Chaudhary stated that labour shortage was a big problem in agriculture sector. They stated that small farmers could not purchase modern tools. They opined that government should ensure steps for provision of modern agriculture machinery to facilitate small farmers. However, about traditional farming techniques, they stated that their ancestors had achieved remarkable productions but it was very difficult to for them to get huge production.
They, however, appreciated modern technology including harvester, cotton picking machine, ultra-high-density farming, drip irrigation system ect which eased farming in the country and also help managed issue of labour shortage.