A Low-cost Way to Reduce Fertiliser Use

A low-cost way has been developed to improve the yield of agricultural produce for farmers and reduce the use of fertilisers.

A group of American students led by an Indian in a year-long study in Telangana have found that silt from ponds reduces the use of fertilisers by 36 percent and increases the crop yield by nearly 50 percent," The University of Michigan said.

The idea for the project started with Adithya Dahagama, a graduate student in the University of Michigan Natural Resources and Environment School. Dahagama, whose father is a farmer in the region, worked with the Hyderabad-based non-profit organisation on a similar project before coming to the university.

The ponds store rainwater from monsoon season and form an intricate part of farming in the area. Over time, silt has been filling the ponds, reducing their capacity.

Most of the desilting of the ponds happens during the summer months when the tanks are dry. With a mix of manual and mechanical means, the silt is dug out and then transported on tractors to the nearby fields.

"The most striking finding is that it reduces greenhouse emissions from less fertiliser use by 50-to-90 percent," said John Monnat, a graduate student in the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.