By B S Prabhurajan Mysore, May 18 UNI | 2 months ago

Widespread pre-monsoon rain, which hit the district early this year, is keeping the farmers busy in brisk agricultural activities.

The summer showers have brought back the much-needed moisture in the soil for sowing.

Sowing has begun in most parts of the district after over a week of preparing fields for the kharif cultivation. Sowing of jowar, pulses and cotton is in full swing.

Barring some parts of T Narsipur taluk, sowing has commenced in the other taluks. Rainfall was slightly less in T Narsipur, compared to other taluks. Here, farmers are awaiting good spells of rain to begin sowing.

Cotton is a prominent crop in H D Kote and Nanjangud taluks, while pulses are the major crops in Mysore, Periyapatna, H D Kote, T Narsipur and Nanjangud taluks. Cotton was among the first few crops sown immediately after the first spell of summer rain.

Joint Director of Agriculture Mahantheshappa told UNI that the pre-monsoon showers had been good. Barring some small pockets, the rainfall was almost widespread, cheering the farmers to take up sowing at a brisk pace.

Nearly 20 per cent of kharif sowing has been completed, he said. Mr Mahantheshappa described the rainfall recorded so far as above average in all the taluks, barring T Narsipur. A good crop can be looked forward to with constant spells of rain, without a long lull, he said. A bumper harvest can be expected, provided decent spells of rain until August-September. A slight let up in rain can harm the crops, he said. The department had set a target of 4.2 lakh hectares for cultivation during the karif season, including 3.15 lakh hectares of rain-dependant land. Adequate stock of fertilizers and seeds had been kept ready to meet the demand, which would go up in the coming days. Seeds were being sold at subsidized rates at raitha samparka kendras (RSKs), which are controlled by the department. There are about 33 such kendras in the district. About 18,000 tonnes of fertilizers is available for immediate distribution.

There is no scarcity of fertilizers and sowing seeds. Measures have been taken to ensure smooth farm activities, he said. Last year, about 93 per cent of the cultivation area in the district had been sown during the kharif season.

In Mysore district, irrigation depends mainly on the Kabini, Nugu and Harangi dams. Further, 87,685 hectares of land is irrigated by canals, 17,377 hectares by tanks, 10, 323 hectares by wells, 5,795 hectares by bore wells and 375 hectares by lift irrigation.

The Kabini dam alone irrigates land in Nanjangud, T Narsipur and H D Kote taluks. Only a small part of Hunsur taluk is fed with water from Harangi dam, while KRS dam irrigates land around Varuna hobli in Mysore taluk.

Meanwhile, ahead of a new cropping season in the district, data furnished by the Department of Agriculture here shows decline in the use of fertilizers in the last two years.

According to the department, farmers were expected to use 1.65 lakh tonnes of fertilizers, including non-urea fertilizers and urea, based on the area of cultivation in the previous cropping season. However, only 1.25 lakh tonnes of fertilizers had been used in the last season, it stated.

Cotton, jowar, ragi, pulses, cereals and tobacco were cultivated on rain-fed land, whereas paddy and sugarcane on irrigated land in the district.

"We have observed a drop in fertilizer use. The application of fertilizer has shown declining trends in the last two years. This can be attributed to the rise in fertilizer costs and increase in awareness on organic or natural manure. This is a healthy trend," said Mahanteshappa, he said fertilizer use has been on on the decline since 2012-13. In 2011-12, 1.65 lakh tonnes of fertilizers had been used in the district but in successive years its application dropped. In 2012-13, 1.35 lakh tonnes of fertilizers was used on crops and 1.25 lakh tonnes were used in 2013-14 for almost the same area of cultivation.

He said the department has been educating farmers to cut down use of chemical fertilizers, highlighting their harmful impacts. Farmers were told the consequences of the use of harmful chemicals on crops and encouraged to use manure and bio-fertilizers.

'Savayava Bhagya', a scheme promoting organic farming, is under way in the district where 100 hectares of land in one village of each hobli is identified for promoting organic farming. Farmers' groups are formed and educated on producing vermicompost and green manure.

The department gives subsidy under the scheme, he said.

With the government decontrolling the prices of non-urea fertilizers such as Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), the use of urea, a subsidised fertilizer, is also going up.

The joint director said: "Urea application has not gone up much.We tell farmers not to depend much on urea due to its long-term consequences."

A fertilizer dealer in Mysore, who wished not to be named, told UNI that there was an increase in the application of urea as it cheaper than non-urea fertilizers. A 50-kg urea bag costs Rs. 285 while other fertilizers like Diammonium phosphate and NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) complex cost more. Diammonium phosphate is priced between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 1,200 for a 50-kg bag and complex fertilizers are priced in the range of Rs. 935 to Rs. 1,085 a bag. Over-use of urea harms soil fertility. The government must take steps to limit the use of urea, he said.

(Posted on 18-05-2014)