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Karnataka gets a mobile soil and water laboratory

The Centre for Applied Research on Problematic Soils (CARPS), a new research centre under the administrative control of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU), Bidar, was inaugurated by Venkatarao Nadagowda, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, on Tuesday. Interestingly, it also marks the setting up of the Mobile Soil and Water Laboratory (MSWL).

Though many research institutes in India work on soil-related issues, they have limited outreach. Most farmers are not aware of the existence of these institutes and how they can serve as resources. “We hope CARPS will bridge this gap by taking up multi-institutional, collaborative applied research. We want to work on problematic soils, conservative farming systems, fodder, fisheries, aquaponics and, bringing all stakeholders together. Agronomy and economics will be our reference points to work towards increased productivity while conserving the soil and the environment,” says Dr Shivakumar Magada, Head, CARPS and ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra.

He said soil quality is a big issue for agriculture in India. Soil acidity and secondary salinisation are huge challenges. In India, out of 142 million hectare (mh) of irrigated land, about 9 mh (about 21.4 per cent) of total cultivable land is said to be saline or alkaline and nearly 79 per cent of the agricultural land is acidic. Continuous use of land and excessive irrigation lead to secondary salinization. Eventually, productivity and area of cultivable land keeps decreasing every year. This is an area where the mobile laboratory will be of help.

Proper soil analysis can help reduce fertiliser use and enhance net profit, says Dr Magada. Usually, farmers do not go to soil labs and get samples analysed. The MSWL will go to specified blocks on notified dates and collect soil samples from the farmers’ door steps to analyse it. It is ideal for places such as Mandya, Shivamogga, Raichur and Northern Belagavi where soil is problematic.


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