Sustainable agriculture revolves around soil health and water management. To be precise, both water and nutrients use efficiencies needs to be increased simultaneously. Farmers are not only facing onslaught of weather conditions, but also many other constraints viz. soil testing services / awareness about efficient use of inputs and their supply / availability of organic manure / lack of access to agro technology and most important is the distress sale of farm produce, thus straining economic viability of farming. These components and there could be many more, needs to be integrated and therefore should form part of sustainable green revolution. In order to bring stability in sustainable agriculture development, it is important to closely examine the practices of the farmers in different farming systems and suggest implementable interventions, ensuring timely availability of input in adequate quantity with the backup of extension services duly supported by output price commensurate with inputs.

“SAVE THE SOIL” campaign: Based on above mentioned approach, IFFCO has selectively implemented some of the activities in most of the districts of India since 2010-11 through its All India Soil Rejuvenation and Productivity Enhancement Project, concluding that sustainability in agriculture is possible with the efficient use of available resources. The programmes / activities undertaken (Chart -1) are as under –

Chart 1

Soil Testing Services

soil testing

A mobile soil testing lab at a farmer’s meet

Soil testing is an important tool to know about soil health and prepare action plan for responsible nutrient application and reclamation of problematic soils. IFFCO has 2 Soil Testing Lab (STL) at CORDET, Phulpur and CORDET, Kalol and 1 STL (for micro nutrient) at Chandigarh. Besides, 9 Mobile Soil Testing Vans (MSTV) are also provides services to the farmers at their door steps. IFFCO has provided financial assistance to 3 cooperative societies in the state of Maharashtra and West Bengal for establishment of soil testing laboratory.

Reclamation of Problematic soils

The soils that cannot be economically used for the cultivation of crops without adopting proper soil reclamationreclamation measures are known as problematic soils. Problematic soils have low nutrient use efficiency and crop productivity. IFFCO, since 2010-11, has reclaimed more than 4200 ha saline and acid soils of farmers in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh etc. and average yield increase of 15-65 % recorded in crops like Paddy / Wheat / Mustard etc. after reclamation.

Green Manuring

Green manuring is soil incorporation of any green manure crop while they are green or soon after the flower. Green manure are forage or leguminous crops that are grown for their green biomass. Green green manuringmanuring practices improve soil fertility, add nutrients and organic matter in soil and improves soils physical and biological properties. IFFCO since 2010-11, has promoted green manuring with crops likedhaincha, sunnhempand other legume crop in more than 37000 ha of farmers field in most of the states of India. This practice has lead to average yield enhancement of about 15 % in succeeding crop such as Paddy / Maize / Wheat besides saving of about 5 – 10% of N application.

Promotion of Compost

compostCompost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as organic source of nutrients and as soil amendment. IFFCO has promoted on farm preparation of organic manure such as vermi-compost, compost, phosphosulpho nitro compost and FYM etc. and so far 32293 compost / manure pits has been prepared.

Promotion of Bio gas

bio gas

A bio gas unit installed near a farmer’s field through IFFCO’s assistance and training

Biogas is one of the renewable sources of energy It can be used for domestic and farm use. Besides source of clean energy for clean environment it provides good quality manure.Biogas slurry may be used for vermicompost preparation. IFFCO has provide financial assistance to farmers for installation of 1160 numbers of bio gas units in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab etc.

Farm Implements

Farm Implements

A farm implement donated by IFFCO to support farm mechanization

Mechanization of agriculture is an essential input to the modern agriculture. Mechanization helps in improving efficiencies of other inputs, increase crop productivity through crop residue incorporation, timely sowing, soil moisture conservation etc. Although some mechanisation of farming has taken place in some parts of the country, most of the farmers are poor and do not have enough resources to purchase modern farm implements and tools. IFFCO has shared the high cost of machinery and implements by providing financial assistance to cooperatives to extend services to farmers on custom hire basis. Farm implements like rotavator, zero tillage drill, paddy planter, sugarcane trash cutter, potato planter, seed cum fertilizer drill, cultivator, harrow, power sprayers etc. were made available to farmers through cooperatives in different states.

Water Resources Development

Water Resources

one of the many check dams made by IFFCO across the country to boost local irrigation

IFFCO has provided financial assistance for water resource development approaches like: check dams, rejuvenation of water bodies through – desilting and deepening of ponds, tanks and canals, recharge of open wells and tube wells, lift irrigation schemes etc. IFFCO has provide financial assistance to farmers for installation of 3337 water saving devices such as drip / sprinkler irrigation system to cover 4012 ha under sugarcane, cotton, vegetables etc. All these programmes have assisted in increasing crop productivity.

Besides these, IFFCO has also promoted recycle / incorporation of crop residue, laser land leveling, deep summer ploughing, System of Rice Intensification (SRI), Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI) etc. The recycling / incorporation of crop residue add organic matter in to soil and improve soil health. Laser land leveling practice saves 25-30 % irrigation water besides better crop establishment, improved yield and uniform crop maturity. Deep summer ploughing pulverizes the soil, improve water absorption capacity and destroy harmful insects. SRI and SSI methods of rice and sugarcane cultivation have advantage in terms of saving in seed, water and increasing FUE over conventional method of cultivation. Application of neem coated urea, granular urea, secondary and micro nutrients, use of bio fertilisers, application of water soluble fertilisers through fertigationand foliar application has also promoted for higher crop productivity and nutrient efficiency. Poly house, shed net and plastic mulching has also promoted for nursery and vegetable cultivation. To promote the concept of ‘Soil Rejuvenation and Productivity Enhancement’, IFFCO has organized various extension activities to create mass awareness. All these programmes have assisted in improving soil health and increasing crop productivity. Healthy soils enable the inputs being used to be much more effective with greater efficiencies. IFFCO’s goal is to help the farmers by educating them to grow healthy, high quality and more produce with reduced inputs cost and higher profits.