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Excessive Use of Chemical Fertilizers Erodes Soil Fertility in Eastern Nepal

Excessive and unorganized use of chemical fertilizers has eroded soil fertility in the eastern parts of Nepal, which has directly affected the agricultural productivity of the region, reports The Kathmandu Post.

The Backstory:

  • In the last fiscal year, the Eastern Region Soil Test Laboratory had collected 600 samples of soil from 16 districts of the eastern region, including Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Siraha, and Saptari.
  • Among those samples, 70% were found to contain acidic properties.
  • From the sample of the previous year, 86% were found to contain acidic properties.
  • Even though the acidic content has dropped, according to the experts, 70% is still a very high number.

What they are saying:

  • “The acidity in soil reduces agricultural productivity, so farmers are not being able to harvest as much produce as they could have,” said Ramashish Yadav, chief of the planning division at the laboratory.
  • According to Yadav, most of the farmers generally use fertilizers, like diammonium phosphate (DAP) and potash, before planting paddy. They then use urea when rice seedlings start growing. Farmers generally do not hold consultation with experts before making use of fertilizers. They simply purchase fertilizers from stores and use them as per the recommendation of shop attendants.
  • “This practice has been affecting soil quality and hitting agricultural productivity,” he added.
  • Plants require 16 different elements, including nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, for proper growth. Many of these elements are present in the soil. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers leads to loss of some of these elements, making the soil infertile, according to Nathu Prasad Chaudhary, officiating chief of the laboratory.
  • The experts say that the level of acidity in eastern region’s soil has hit an alarming level as many farmers have stopped using compost and are relying more and more on chemical fertilizers. If this trend continues, the arable land in the Tarai will convert into a desert, where no vegetation can be grown.

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