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Study Says Fertilizer Overuse in Bengal Agriculture.

KOLKATA: An IIT Kharagpur study has found a more-than-50% overuse of fertilisers in Bengal, which could be exposing the population to a host of serious ailments, even cancer, apart from taking a heavy toll on the environment.

Lead scientist Bhabani Das of IIT-Kgp's faculty of agriculture and food engineering department said, "In Bengal, phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen are added to the soil by farmers in very high proportions. Without soil testing, it has a hazardous health impact."

The team comprising faculty and researchers was working on how to make soil-testing fast and inexpensive, so that farmers test the soil of their holdings before deciding on how much and what fertilizer to use.

After extensive study, the team concluded that the level of minerals and other nutrients is quite high in these districts, and farmers can easily cut down on fertilizer use by as much as 50%.

In doing so, they toured Bengal extensively and collected soil samples from agricultural fields in several districts: South Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Burdwan, Hooghly, Howrah, East and West Midnapore, Nadia, and the two 24-Parganas.

Experts sais that, a number of chemicals and heavy metals also leaching into waterbodies, and eventually into the groundwater.

The team has stressed that farmers need to properly test their soil before deciding to use fertilizers. The team has come up with a technology, where the testing will be done with the help of spectroscopy, and the results will be derived from the energy absorbed/reflected back.

The research has been published in the prestigious 'Soil Science Society of America' and 'Geoderma', two of the world's most respected journals on agricultural science and technology.


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