IPI International Potash Institute
IPI International Potash Institute

IPI Events: e-ifc No. 37, June 2014

IPI Events

March 2014

IPI-BAU International Symposium on 'Potassium Nutrition and Crop Quality', BAU, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India, 4-5 March 2014.

Report by Neeraj Kumar Awasthi, IPI Coordinator East India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Over 150 scientists, extension specialists and agricultural administrators from all over the world participated in the International Symposium on ‘Potassium Nutrition & Crop Quality’. Organised by India’s Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) in collaboration with the International Potash Institute (IPI) on 4-5 March 2014, 131 research papers were presented during 10 sessions.

Neeraj Kumar Awasthi, IPI Coordinator East India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka , highlighted the achievements of an IPI-BAU research project which demonstrated how balanced nutrition, in particular potassium, adds tremendous value to the socio-economic status of small and marginal farmers.

BAU Vice Chancellor, Dr. M.P. Panday, then drew the attention of participants towards the historical importance of chemical fertilizers and the important role they have played in making the country self-reliant in food grain production, especially during the Green Revolution (1960-70) when the country experienced an increase of over 50-60% in food grain production with the use of fertilizers.

Hillel Magen, IPI Director, raised concern about global food demand and how it should be addressed with the balanced use of fertilizers. Magen explained how IPI is partnering with research and extension agencies in the developing world to provide solutions to the increasing global demand for food.

Jharkhand state’s Minister of Agriculture, Sri Yogendra Saw, congratulated the organisers of the Symposium for their effort to expose scientists, extension workers and farmers to global research. He highlighted the importance of generating and disseminating modern agricultural knowledge to increase the productivity and profitability of farmers. Saw promised that in Jharkhand, the government is working to facilitate agriculture as an industry.

The two day Symposium ended with a session, Chaired by India’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Dr. J.S. Sandhu, in which a set of recommendations was compiled.

Symposium recommendations:

  1. Promoting the balanced use of nutrients in a cost effective manner is indispensable for sustaining a high level of crop productivity.
  2. Technology generated on nutrient use should match with farmer’s perspectives. Last mile delivery to small and marginal farmers should be the focus. Reaching farmers through extension officers, NGOs and other agencies, using decision support systems, holds promise.
  3. Farmer field trials and demonstrations, on use of potassium fertilisers, need to be conducted to encourage potassium use and create awareness among farming communities.
  4. Re-looking at the threshold values of available potassium in soils and nutrient ratios in crops has become essential to tackling global food insecurity and market competitiveness.
  5. Employing nutrient stewardship programs (e.g. 4R), potassium applied through complex and straight fertilizers in farmers’ fields in different agro-climatic regions should be tested for higher farm profits.
  6. Farmer field studies on potassium-use in crops and cropping systems under micro-irrigation, especially for high value crops, need to be monitored for yield, quality and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Laboratories equipped with improved tools for assessing quality parameters need to be set up. 
  7. Impact studies of non-application of potassic fertilizers (in nitrogen and phosphorus treated fields) for short, medium and long-term effect in farmer’s fields on crop yield and quality is essential.
  8. Potassium-use efficiency in commercial crops with export potential such as tobacco, cotton, spices, vegetables, fruits, and flowers need further study.
  9. Efforts are needed to popularise the use of potassic fertilizers among farmers by reducing costs, improving supply and providing subsidies.
  10. Split application/deferred application (e.g. potassium-fixing soils) of potassium in crops and cropping systems needs further research to determine the potassium-use rates needed by different crops to achieve high potassium-use efficiency.
  11. Rain fed areas, pulses and oilseed crops need special focus on potassium-use to mitigate abiotic stresses. Screening of crop cultivars with higher potassium-use efficiency and promoting large scale use by farmers will help.
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