Government agencies under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have developed a geospatial digital map that will help identify regions with high potential for organic farming.
Following an extensive research that began in 2011, National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP) in collaboration with Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), have put together this map with the intention of promoting knowledge-based agricultural practices in India.
The digital map, which showcases organic carbon stock in the soils of all states, was put together following collection and analysis of two lakh soil samples from across the country.
Including Sikkim, which has already earned the tag of India’s first fully organic state last year, the entirety of Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur have been identified under the research as perfectly ideal zones to practice organic farming.
“Organic farming will give best results in areas having a high quantity of organic carbon, which is a rich source of nutrients. In conventional farming, urea, nitrogen, phosphorous, insecticides and pesticides are used. But in organic farming, only natural manure is used and thus soils with adequate nutrients as evidenced by high organic carbon content are likely to produce high yield,” Surendra Kumar Singh, director of ICAR-NBSS&LUP told Times of India.
The map displays different segments across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra replete with rich organic carbon content.
While northern states like Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand and parts of Jammu and Kashmir have been identified as idyllic zones to practice organic farming, states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have been declared as regions with low potential, owing to intensive cultivation where nutrients have been sucked out of the soil without adequate replenishment.
The map has identified the black soil found in states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra holding potential for organic farming. However, intensive agriculture posed a greater risk of depleting organic carbon in these regions.
“To ensure that the condition of these states does not become similar to Rajasthan, which has very low organic carbon, proper soil and water conservation plan should be implemented,” said Singh.
The research also intends to lay the groundwork for developing sustainable farming practices that can help tackle climate change. Singh explained that the depleted carbon content in the soil finds its way to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide and increasing in the ambient temperature significantly in the process.
“To avoid this, proper land use planning is needed. Strategies to enhance carbon sequestration should be developed,” he added.
ICAR-NBSS&LUP is gearing up to publish and share the data with the Prime Minister’s Office, Planning Commission, and other concerned departments and will be presenting the data in Telangana this week.