Bhubaneswar(17/03/2021/ By Preeti Bharti, Ajay Kumar Mishra, and Sheetal Sharma): In Odisha, 92% of operational holdings belonging to the small and marginal category, and are variable in nutrient status because of differences in crop management practices among farmers.
Usually, farmers use a uniform blanket dose of N, P, and K fertilizer for all fields across a region or state, thus ignoring variations across fields in the supply of essential nutrients from the soil, crop-growing conditions, weather, and soil and crop management practices.
The fertilizer consumption in the state varies from as low as 9.85kg/ha (Kandhamal) to as high as 154.20 kg/ha (Nabarangpur).
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment (DAFE) Odisha is promoting the adoption of balanced fertilizer application through the ICT tool “Rice Crop Manager (RCM)”.
It is based on the principles of Site-Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM) and has been developed to sustain the productivity of rice-based cropping systems and increase the net income of smallholder farmers.
Since stress conditions (either flood or drought) in rainfed conditions affect nutrient management strategies, RCM has been customized to suggest suitable STRVs along with modified advisories on how to manage fertilizer doses and splits in case of stress situations.
RCM advisories are given in a form of printed recommendations which are available in both Odia and English language and can also be shared through messages/voice calls.
IRRI collaborated with many extension service providers in the state to disseminate this technology among farmers.
Extension staff of department of agriculture and NGO partners were trained to use the app and to reach out to the farmers at their doorstep.
Common Service Centers(CSC) with their wide presence atthe village level were partnered to provide printed recommendations to the farmers who visited the CSC centers.
Farmers were also interviewed telephonically and their customized advisories were sent to their mobile phones as voice calls.
With the increasing penetration of mobile phones in Odisha, there is an opportunity to encourage farmers to learn the tool themselves and IRRI through numerous training program have trained farmers and rural youth including women farmers to generate the recommendations for themselves as well as for neighboring farmers.
Around 2.5 lakh farmers across the state have received the recommendations.
The yield data have shown that the farmers who followed the nutrient management practice as per RCM recommendations were able to get an additional 0.64 t/ha in Kharif and 0.47 t/ha in Rabi on an average which amounts to a net income return of INR 11955 and INR 8780 respectively.
In areas where farmers were applying more complex fertilizer than required, RCM recommendations helped them understand when and how much to apply for their particular patch and variety grown.
“I used to apply around 30% more DAP than required, to get more yield but after following RCM recommendations for two seasons I could save more on fertilizers without compromising the yield”, says Md.
Manan, a farmer from Dangahir village, Puri.
The customized recommendations and fertilizer amount specific for the selected plot size make it user-friendly for the farmers to follow and saves them from any calculations or conversions at their end.
Madhab Ojha, a Village Agriculture Worker (VAW) from Damapda block, Cuttack reiterated this and said “RCM tool helps me to suggest exact quantity and date of fertilizer application to the farmers.
It also customizes based on the duration of the selected variety and the target yield.
It helped me in transferring the knowledge on improved nutrient management to farmers very easily”.
The tool is freely available to be used for the rice growers of Odisha and can be accessed using the link webapps/irri/org/in /od/rcm.