Experts stress shift to smart farming


MULTAN:

Excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers over the past few decades has not only affected the environment but has also damaged soil fertility.

The agricultural soil has become weak and unable to provide required or expected yield. The agriculture sector lacks the presence of organic matter (animal dung, tree leaves, crop remains, etc) in the soil.

Fertilisers and pesticides can produce better results only if the soil has sufficient organic matter. However, constant use of pesticides and fertilisers has poisoned the soil and it is a major reason behind the decline in production of different crops, especially wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice and vegetables.

According to agricultural experts, there should be at least 5-6% organic matter in the soil for achieving handsome production.

Unfortunately, the agriculture sector has ignored the organic matter for the past many years. Resultantly, the soil contains only 0.5% organic matter, which is not only weakening the soil health but is also damaging the farmers’ livelihood, ultimately causing loss to the country’s economy.

Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture Multan’s (MNS-UAM) Faculty of Agriculture and Environment Science Dean Dr Shafqat Saeed told APP that although fertilisers and pesticides were considered important but in the case of weak soil, these could not produce better crops.

“There is a dire need to maintain the presence of organic matter in soil,” he said, adding, “When fertilisers are applied to any field, they make a special bond with the organic matter, thus, help in contributing more production.”

“We have to limit chemical intervention in our agriculture sector. Europe is returning to organic farming nowadays, so we will have to promote organic farming along with use of modern agricultural tools or machinery,” he emphasised.

“Pakistan is among those countries which have been severely affected by climate change. Sudden high and low temperatures, unexpected rainfall, changing seasons for crop sowing and harvesting are also big challenges.

“So, we need to shift to smart farming – a combination of both traditional as well as modern farming techniques – for sustainable agriculture.”

Modern farming techniques refer to the efficient use of available resources. For the health of soil, the agriculture sector should follow traditional methods. However, modern technology should be adopted for sowing, harvesting, grading, marketing and some other necessary work.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2020.

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