For the first time in the history of West Bengal, the state government has taken a step to create a “comprehensive” database on the nature of soil to let farmers know the correct measures which are needed to be taken for a better yield by conducting 6.5 lakh soil sample tests in the current fiscal.
Purnendu Basu, the State Agriculture minister, said: “This is the first time when we have targeted soil sample tests of 6.5 lakh. With the successful completion of the tests of such a huge volume, the number of soil sample tests will go up from 1.5 lakh and it will be of immense help for farmers in the state.”
After realising the need of having a “comprehensive” database to know the nature of soil of a particular area, the state agriculture department has decided to introduce new updated machines for soil testing.
The decision to bring new machinery has been taken to augment the rate of soil testing. The initial process is already over and the new machines will be introduced in villages, soon.
The updated machine of soil testing will get more tests done within a short span of time and will be in place after analysing the results by trial and error method. It is learnt that at the beginning of this year, the department had brought up around 50 Soil Testing Laboratories or Mini Soil Labs across the state where soil can be tested using the digital mobile quantitative soil testing equipment, Mridapariksha.
Sources said that after assessing the outcome of the equipment, the state government has decided to go for more updated equipment for the laboratories as the outcome of the tests has to be more detailed and quicker.
“The state government is also providing training to youth from families of farmers to operate the labs. Rural youth of age group from 18 to 40 years are operating the labs. The state government has also taken up steps in involving Farmers Producer Organisations and other farming-related organisations in the entire system. The initiative has also been taken to bring school and college goers to the soil testing centres so that they could also learn the process involved in the testing of soil in the laboratories and it will be helpful for them in future,” said Basu.
With the setting up of the mini soil testing labs, farmers are getting the result of soil testing at their doorsteps. Farmers can easily ascertain the type of fertiliser and its quantity they need to use to get a better yield after the composition of soil, nutrient content and other factors like pH level, the presence of phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium, sulphur and organic carbon are determined by soil testing. The micronutrient content of soil will also get determined in the test.
The state agriculture department has closely monitored the progress of the soil sample testing programme as it has targeted to complete testing of 6.5 lakh samples this fiscal and came to a decision that they need to provide much more details about soil to farmers. At the same time, the task has to be done much faster and results have to be error free.
It may be mentioned that West Bengal had received the Krishi Karman Puroskar for four consecutive years for the increase in the cultivation of food grains and oil seed.
In the past four years, the state has experienced a growth in the cultivation of food grains from 1.37 lakh metric tonne to 1.60 lakh metric tonne. In oilseeds too, there was a growth of around 25 to 30 percent. Thus, with the creation of a database on the nature of the soil, it is expected that the yield in all types of crops will witness a sharp rise.
The reason being besides knowing the type and quantity of fertilisers to be used, farmers will also come to know the suitable crop that will give a good yield in a particular plot.