AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION

MANURES AND FERTILIZERS

Manures and chemical fertilisers are increasingly applied to lands, both garden and dry-crop, to conserve the fertility of the soil and to augment agricultural production thereby. Its application has become essential to make agronomy profitable and to meet the increasing demand for food-grains. Production and distribution of chemical fertilisers has therefore become one of the most important aspects of agricultural planning.

However, the cultivators in the district till the end of the first quarter of the 20th century used only manures and that too very scarcely. Manure was then generally applied only to garden-lands and if available to dry-crop lands. The cultivators used to dump the sweepings of the house and of the cattle-sheds, ashes and every sort of rubbish into a pit which was turned over during the rainy months when decayed. They used to cart this manure to the fields. Another common method of manuring land was to fold sheep on it. The land-holder used to pay the shepherd 3 to 4 shers of food-grain for a night for every hundred sheep so folded in a field. Few cultivators used to purchase manure the price of which then varied from 5 to 8 annas per bullock-cart in the country-side and from 8 to 12 annas per cart or gada near towns. These practices are still followed in the district. However it may be noted that there is an appreciable increase in the prices to be paid to a cart-load of manure as also in the case of the folding charges to be paid to the shepherds as compared to the past.

A very peculiar system of rab was followed in the hilly western villages of Akola taluka. The cultivators used to burn branches, leaves, cow-dung and grass on a small piece of land reserved for seed-bed. This practice is still followed by some cultivators in the comparatively heavy rainfall areas.

At present a variety of fertilisers are in use and various methods of preparing compost and green manuring have assumed great importance in the technology of agriculture which is becoming more complex. The Government has introduced a system for distributing the chemical fertilisers to cultivators. It supplies fertilisers on consignment basis to the wholesalers as per demand of the district forwarded by the Zilla Parishad. The wholesalers supply them to their taluka sub-agents who in turn distribute them amongst the primary cooperative societies for selling to cultivators. The achievement in this behalf could be seen from the following statement:—

Third Five-Year Plan Period

1966-67

1968-69

(Tons)

(Tons)

(Tons)

Ammonium sulphate

54,161

3,795

4,603

Superphosphate

27,551

3,030

1,630

Fertiliser mixture

57,134

5,822

2,123

Urea

16,758

4,260

Calcium Ammonium nitrate

--

--

915

Nitrophosphate

--

--

84

Dai Ammonium phosphate

--

--

681

Ammonium phosphate

--

--

333

Ammonium chloride

--

--

341

Besides, green manuring is practised by sowing the tag seeds in June and burying their vegetative growth in the field, by means of a hoe. This adds nitrogen to the soil. Manure is also prepared in the compost-pits measuring 10'x6'x3'. The Agriculture Department gives various subsidies to encourage preparation of compost. The town compost scheme, rural compost scheme and farm-yard manure scheme have been introduced in the district. In 1968-69 the area under green manuring was 6,880 acres. The town and rural compost produced during the same year was 44,220 and 10,000 M. tons, respectively.

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