Crops Productivity in Kerala Hindered By High Soil Acidity

Published on: 09 Oct, 2013
Published under: Kerala Agriculture News

8 October 2013

Soil acidification has assumed serious proportion in farmlands across Kerala, impairing the productivity of most crops, a multi-institutional survey on soil fertility has revealed. The study coordinated by the Kerala State Planning Board revealed elevated levels of acidity in 91 per cent of the 200,000 soil samples collected for analysis from across the State.

As many as 54 per cent of the samples tested for strong to very strong and extremely acid reaction. All farmlands in the State, except the southern coastal plains, Attappady hills and eastern Palakkad plains reported heavy acidity.

According to the report of the study, the primary cause for soil acidification in Kerala is indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers, intensification of agriculture through high-yielding crop varieties and the neglect of the traditional practice of applying lime to neutralise the acidity.

Strongly acidic soils provide a stressed environment for plant growth. It impairs the absorption of nutrients and inhibits the microbial process responsible for nitrogen fixation and decomposition of organic matter in the soil. In strongly acidic soils, the high concentration of aluminum ions affects plant roots. Biofertilizers are found to be ineffective in acidic soil.

The study involving the Department of Agriculture, Kerala Agricultural University, institutions under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research and the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP), utilized 14 laboratories to analyze the 200,000 soil samples for major, secondary and micro nutrients. The project is aimed at developing soil-based plant nutrient management plans for the 978 panchayats in the State.


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