TANA Agriculture Forum Programs
Abstract: TANA Agriculture forum has identified the following short and long term projects to support Andhra Pradesh and Telangana farmers. Agriculture forum is planning to execute these projects in two different phases with the support of TANA executive committee and sponsors. More details on the significance of each project, cost estimates, and sponsorship forms are included below.
Phase I: Time line: December 2016, during TANA tour to INDIA
- TANA-PPE: Distribute Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to reduce the exposure of farmers/farm workers to toxic pesticides.
- TANA-Crop Health Camps: Distribute GreenSeeker, a hand held crop nitrogen sensor that assesses crop health and make decisions regarding the amount of nitrogen fertilizer (e.g. urea) to be applied to the crop. This is a quick way of knowing the soil nitrogen status and nitrogen is a critical factor that effects crop yield and water quality
Phase II: Time line: TANA 2017 conference
- TANA-Soil Health Camps: Perform soil testing to reduce indiscriminate application of synthetic fertilizers and input costs to the farmer and leave lesser foot print on the environment. The cost estimates will be posted as committee makes progress on technical and feasibility details.
Project 1: TANA-PPE
(Distribute Personal Protective Equipment kits to farmers/farm workers)
Importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)In agriculture, a wide variety of pesticides are routinely used for controlling crop pests.
Major goalsAlthough these chemicals have been helpful in improving crop yields, they are toxic to humans if they are exposed to them. In villages, our farmers/farm workers apply chemicals using manual pesticide applicators without wearing appropriate PPE, thus exposing themselves to hazardous chemicals like organophosphates. A slow and repeated exposure to these chemicals causes “Chronic Toxicity”. In short term such toxic effects may not be realized but long-term exposure to toxic chemicals will have huge implications on human health and leads to death. It’s like death in slow motion
While we cannot help eliminate all exposure, we can reduce some of the exposure by providing simple protective equipment like gloves and goggles. TANA would like to distribute PPE Kits (Figure 2) to the pesticide handlers and farm workers in villages of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Project 2: TANA-Crop Health Camps
(Distribute GreenSeeker/Nitrogen Fertilizer Application Estimator)
Importance: In India, traditionally farmers apply nitrogen fertilizer (urea) uniformly as a blanket recommendation without considering crop type and/or soil nitrogen status to obtain higher crop yields. It has been proven that each crop has specific requirements for nitrogen fertilizer. Low nitrogen application will lead to poor yields. Whereas excessive nitrogen application does not benefit the crop, but increases input costs to the farmer/government and environment pollution. Water soluble nitrate is major component of urea drained into water bodies which is harmful to human and animal health. Furthermore, several factors, including soil type, farm practices, and crop rotations effect the availability of soil nitrogen for crop growth. For example, pulses add more nitrogen to the soil due to their nitrogen fixing ability and corn/rice uptake more nitrogen from the soil. Therefore, identification of optimal nitrogen requirement for each crop is critical to maximize crop yields, reduce input costs and environmental pollution.
In the United States, farmers use various technologies to determine nitrogen fertilizer requirements for optimal crop growth e.g, “GreenSeeker” (Developed by Trimble). GreenSeeker is hand held, user friendly, and cost effective crop sensor device (Figure. 3) that instantly measures crop health and provides a reading (e.g., 0.61), similar to measuring body temperature or blood pressure. The reading will be used to determine the amount of nitrogen fertilizer (urea) required from a reference chart specific for each crop.
Reduces input cost to farmers and subsidy cost to the Government
- Reduces environmental pollution and protect human and animal health
- Precision agriculture. As shown in Figure 4, this device can be used to develop a crop health map for the entire field using “Farm Scout App” (free) downloaded on a smart phone/iPad. Based on the field map, different rates of urea could be applied within a field rather than uniform/blanket application to the entire field.
Major goals: As a pilot project
Cost/Unit: $500 (GreenSeeker: $500)
Soil Health Camps
(Soil Testing and Create awareness on importance of soil health)
Importance of Soil Testing
Soil is an important natural resource that provides essential nutrients required for crop growth. Humans without sound health cannot perform normal functions. Likewise, without having sound health, soil cannot provide favorable environment for optimal crop growth and leads to reduced crop yields. Like we perform routine health checkups to know the health status of our body, soil health needs to be tested periodically. In the past, unknowingly, farmers have taken care of soil health by following good cultural practices, such as applying manures and growing nitrogen fixing crops etc. As the technology has advanced, farmers are depending more on synthetic fertilizers and using them indiscriminately, without knowing what is deficient in the soil. The indiscriminate use of fertilizers not only wastes money but also contributes to environmental pollution. For example, if Phosphorus is low and Potash is high in the soil, one can take the money from Potash and put into Phosphorus. If both are high, fertilizer application can be minimized, which saves money and helps the environment. If both are low, both should be applied to bring their levels up to the levels required for optimal crop growth. Therefore, it is necessary to determine soil health periodically and the only way it can be done is by testing soils.
Benefits of Soil testing
- Diagnoses whether there is too little or too much of a given nutrient in the soil.
- Encourages optimal plant growth and increase crop yields by providing the best fertilizer (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash) recommendations.
- Saves money that might otherwise be spent on unneeded fertilizer.
- Reduces environmental pollution by reducing indiscriminate fertilizer application.
Major Gaps in the Current Soil Testing System
- Lack of awareness on the importance of soil testing
- We have well established soil testing laboratories. However, the biggest issue with soil testing in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana areas has been the turnaround time. Often times it takes several months before the soil test results are communicated to farmers. Hence, a farmer cannot take appropriate measures to correct defects in soils on time.
- Less efficient manual soil sample collection processes.
TANA Agriculture committee is looking at various options to improve the efficiency of soil testing processes. Committee is hoping to identify a feasible technology to fill gaps in existing soil testing processes and create awareness on the importance of soil testing among farmers.
- Name of the Sponsor: ________________________________
- Sponsor contact address:____________________________________________
- Program you would like to sponsor
Person Protection Equipment (PPE)-$12/kit
- Payments details: Make payments online via TANA online donation portal https://www.tana.org/donate and select the RYTHUKOSAM TANA program
under the donations drop down menu. NO amount is small amount and all donors will be appropriately recognized in our event. Thank you for being part of sustainable Indian Agriculture in 21st Century and Protect the Natural Resources for Future Generations
Dr. Janaiah Kota
Dr. Subbarao Yarlagadda
Dr. Hanumaiah Bandla