Sugar industry waste helps boost productivity of sodic soils: Experts: The Tribune India

Tribune press service

Karnal, December 22

In a major achievement in reviving the productivity of degraded soils using waste from the sugar industry – pressmud – scientists at the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) have passed the trial on the sodic soil in the fields of five villages in Kaithal district. Scientists used pressed mud, which is considered an environmental hazard, not only revived the productivity of sodic soils, but also reduced soil sodification, the scientists claimed.

According to scientists, gypsum is usually used by farmers to reclaim their sodic land, but organic waste from sugar industries has the potential to improve sodic land and also increase crop yield in a degraded environment.

Under the Farmer FIRST project, CSSRI scientists led by Principal Investigator Dr. Parvender Sheoran had started trials of pressed mud on the sodic soil of five affected villages – Mundri, Kathwar, Sampli Kheri, Geong and Bhaini Majra in 2016, where about 40 percent of the total land was sodic and 90 percent of the groundwater had residual alkalinity issues. After a four-year experiment, they have now received good results and the productivity of sodium earth has been revived, said CSSRI Director Dr. PC Sharma.

Dr Parvender Sheoran said field assessments of over 125 locations in the rice-wheat system revealed the positive influence of pressed mud in alleviating sodicity stress with appreciable reductions in soil pH and the percentage of exchangeable sodium, with better salt tolerance of plants and improved cereal yields. Economic analysis indicates that pressed mud appears to be an affordable solution to reducing pressure on limited gypsum supplies, Dr Sheoran added. He said the technology has potential agricultural benefits and spin-offs with effective reclamation of degraded land. Farmers are also delighted with this technology as it has significantly reduced sodicity in the soil. “The pressing mud application gives more greenery to the crop and requires less application of urea and also improves soil health,” said Raj Kumar, a farmer.

Rachel J. Bradford