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The Awareness Campaign on Balanced Use of Fertilizers was organized by ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 18 June 2021 in virtual mode (Zoom and Facebook Live) in commemoration of 75th year of India’s Independence (Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav). The campaign was organized as per the directions received from the office of DDG (NRM), ICAR, New Delhi. Farmers, students, scientists, researchers, extension officials, input dealers and other stakeholders participated in the event. About 250 participants attended the live programme through Zoom platform and Facebook Live programme of ICAR-CTCRI. Dr. G. Byju, Organizing Secretary and Head, Division of Crop Production,ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram, delivered the welcome address and introductory remarks. He highlighted the significance of the programme in view of Platinum Jubilee celebrations of our nation (Commemoration of 75th year of India’s Independence). He narrated the history of fertilizer industry in India, importance of fertilizers for agricultural production and objective of the campaign for balanced use of fertilizers for maximizing the productivity of crops by sustaining the soil health. He also read out the message given by Dr. Suresh Kumar Chaudhari, DDG (NRM), ICAR, New Delhi, during the occasion and highlighted the message ‘Govt. of India has launched the National Mission on Soil Health Cards to evaluate the soil fertility of soils across the country and to provide soil test-based fertilizer recommendations to farmers to ensure balanced fertilization in India. Dr. M. N. Sheela, Director, ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram, delivered Presidential address. She highlighted the importance of soil health for agriculture with special emphasis on tropical tuber crops. She stressed the importance of soil and other natural resources for sustaining agricultural production and doubling of farmers’ income as envisioned by Govt. of India. Director also read out the message sent by Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE and DG, ICAR, New Delhi and emphasized the message ‘Soil test-based fertilizer management is indispensable to assure national food security, maintenance of soil health, enhancement of soil fertility and to leave a good heritage for the future generations’. The Chief Guest of the campaign, Dr. P. Rajendran, Chairman, Farmers Welfare Fund Board, Govt. of Kerala & Former Vice Chancellor, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur, Kerala, inaugurated the event and delivered inaugural address. He congratulated the ICAR and ICAR-CTCRI for organizing much needed awareness campaign on ‘Balanced Use of Fertilizers’ for the benefit of farmers and other stakeholders. He stressed the importance of soil as a living entity and the source of life ‘Healthy soil-healthy plant-healthy animal-healthy human beings’. He further added that soil testing, judicious application of fertilizers and organic manures, organic recycling of crop residues and drip fertigation are the need of the hour for attaining food and nutritional security in the long run. The session on ‘Balanced fertilization, soil testing and soil health card’ was presented by Dr. K. Susan John, Principal Scientist (Soil Science), ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram. She highlighted essential nutrients for plant growth, source of nutrients, integrated nutrient management, nutritional deficiencies, method of soil sampling and soil testing and significance of soil health card (SHC) scheme implemented by Govt. of India, during the session. Dr. G. Suja, Principal Scientist (Agronomy), ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram, handled the session on ‘Organic inputs: Composts, Green manures and Biofertilizers’. Importance of organic inputs in soil health management, nutrient content of organic inputs, use of composts, green manures and biofertilizers in soil health management of agricultural crops with special reference to tropical tuber crops were explained. She also narrated different schemes of Govt. of India for soil health management highlighting the scheme on Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). The topic on ‘Crop residue management’ was dealt by Dr. V. Ramesh, Principal Scientist (Soil Science), ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram. Application of crop residues in different fields, problems and prospects of management of crop residues, preparation of biochar and importance of tillage and mulching in soil health management were explained by him. Dr. S. Sunitha, Principal Scientist (Agronomy), ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram, dealt the session on ‘Drip fertigation’. Importance of judicious use of water and fertilizers, scope of drip fertigation in horticultural crops, advantages and challenges of drip fertigation and scheme on drip irrigation ‘Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) by Govt. of India, were discussed in detail during the session. After the technical session, there was very good interaction on the different aspects of ‘Balanced Use of Fertilizers’ viz., Time and method of soil testing, soil health card, nutritional deficiencies, importance of Carbon: Nitrogen ratio, preparation of biochar and procedure for availing subsidy for drip irrigation/fertigation were held among the experts and participants. Besides, all other queries related to the topic were answered in written mode through social media viz., Zoom and Whatsapp. Dr. D. Jaganathan, Senior Scientist & Convenor, ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram facilitated the Scientist-Farmer interactive session. Dr. B. G. Sangeetha and Dr. Sanket J More, Scientists & Convenors, ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram, moderated the sessions. Dr. Sheela Immanuel, Organizing Secretary and Head, Extension and Social Sciences, ICAR-CTCRI, Thiruvananthapuram, highlighted the major discussions and interactions, who also proposed the vote of thanks at the end of the webinar. The farmers and other stakeholders expressed their satisfaction and demanded for more such programmes in future for making the agriculture ‘a profitable venture’ through technological interventions

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