Government commissions 3 mobile soil testing laboratories
Kohima, July 21 (EMN): Three fully equipped mobile soil testing laboratories (MSTLs) aimed at assisting farmers in soil health management were commissioned on Thursday at the directorate of Soil and Water Conservation in Kohima.
Minister of Soil and Water Conservation, Geology and Mining, NSMDC, V Kashiho Sangtam along with Agriculture Production Commissioner Y Kikheto Sema, and state Chief Secretary J Alam, commissioned the three laboratories.
Addressing the commissioning programme, Sangtam said the soil testing laboratories are fully equipped with high-tech equipment capable of analysing both macro and micronutrients, which will aid the farmers in monitoring the health of the soil and applying location-specific management practices.
Giving updates on upcoming projects and schemes, he informed that a block-level mini soil testing lab is coming up very soon, which will cater to the soil testing needs in remote areas and for the creation of awareness amongst the farmers. With the assistance of the central government, efforts are being made to issue soil health cards to all the farmers of the state in a phase-wise manner and also assist the farmers with organic fertilisers, bio-fertilisers and micronutrients based on the soil test report.
Two bio-fertiliser production units at Rotimi Village, Zunheboto district and Seyochung Town, Kiphire district will be functional in a few months. Meanwhile, a proposal for another 10 bio-fertiliser production units is with the Finance Ministry, Govt. of India for consideration. There will be sufficient bio-fertilisers to meet the demand of the farmers for the entire state, he informed.
Additional Director and State Nodal Officer of Soil Health Management, L Chubaonen, giving a technical report, said the three laboratories were sanctioned at cost INR 75 lakh each. It was built by a Baroda-based company M/s Octopus Services.
These Laboratories are equipped with all the state-of-the-art equipment like Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS), Nitrogen Distillation Unit, Flamephotometer, Spectrophotometer etc. required for analysis of soil samples for both macro and micronutrients in line with the Ministry guidelines for issue of Soil Health Card. It is also fitted with a 6.5kva silent generator, air conditioner and public address (PA) System, 50-litre water storage tank, 50-litre drainage tank, and chemicals to test 1500 samples. The analytical capacity of each of the mobile soil testing laboratories per year is around 15,000 samples approximately for all the twelve (12) parameters, he informed.
Power outages are very frequent in the state; therefore this generator-powered Mobile Soil testing laboratory will act as a stand-by for mother static laboratories.
In order to maintain the recurring capital expenditures of these facilities and to ensure uninterrupted delivery of services to the end user, constant flow of funds is a prerequisite. Therefore, he urged the state government to supplement the expenditure which will ensue from the operation of these facilities.
Chief Secretary, J Alam, said the number of land holdings in the state is about 1.96 lakh (almost 2 lakh) and the department should be able to give soil health cards to every land holding with facilities at their disposal. The soil health card issued to date is just 20% and more effort should be put to achieve 100%. Once soil testing of all land holding is done, farmers will be helped in a great way.
He remarked that Soil and Water Conservation has become the happening department as things are happening at a good pace and moving in the right direction.
“In Nagaland, land is fertile and productivity is quite good even without fertilisers or additional inputs. But, the people are still yet to realise that. A huge expansion of cultivable area is required,” he said and told officials and farmers to think of the bigger picture.
APC Y Kikheto Sema said a total of 27,304 soil health cards (SHCs) for farmers covering all 74 blocks have been generated and issued to the farming committee.
“If the soil is sick, one cannot expect a good harvest. Therefore soil health is important and this is where the department plays a crucial role,” he said.
He further informed that a lot of activities are going to be taken up by the centre in the days to come. The government of India has plans to make Nagaland the model concerning soil health management.