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For quadrupling wheat production in 5 decades, fertiliser use in Punjab up by 4,200 timesqrcode

Jan. 2, 2020

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Jan. 2, 2020
The Rabi season (October to March) sowing is just over in Punjab where around 39.71 lakh hectares is dedicated under Rabi crops, mainly wheat crop — which has 35 lakh hectares under it this year, and the remaining area under oilseeds, vegetables, and potato crops. The state has used around 21 lakh tonnes of fertilisers in Rabi season this year. Because of the large area under wheat, the major portion of fertilisers goes to the wheat crop. While the productivity of wheat has gone up over four times in Punjab in the last five decades, mainly after the introduction of Green Revolution in 1966-67, the fertiliser usage is up over 4000 times during the same period. The Indian Express explains the decade-wise increase in area, productivity and usage of fertilisers particularly in wheat during the Rabi season.


After combining the area of both Kharif and Rabi seasons, Punjab is cultivating 79.42 lakh hectares annually.

What was the Rabi season usage of fertilisers in Punjab in 1960-61? How has it increased over the last five decades?

According to Punjab Government data, the usage of fertilisers was 0.005 lakh tonnes (500 tonnes) in 1960-61 in Punjab which touched 2.13 Lakh metric Tonnes (LMT) in 1970-71 (after introduction of green revolution) and has now increased to 21 LMT in 2019-2020 during the Rabi season. Going by this data, Punjab’s Rabi crop mainly wheat crop fertiliser consumption has increased to 4200 times in all these decades. Experts say that around 90 per cent of the total fertilisers consumption is taking place under the main wheat crop only.

What is the total area under wheat in Punjab?

The area under what was recorded as 14 lakh Hectares (LHs) in 1960-61 which reached 22.99 LHs in 1970-71 (after introduction of green revolution) and has now reached 35 LHs in 2019-2020. Going by these records, the area under wheat has increased by 2.5 times in the past over five decades from 14 LHs to 35 LHs.

How productivity of wheat has increased in all these decades?

The productivity of wheat was recorded 1.24 tonnes (1240 kg) per hectares in 1960-61, and 2.24 tonnes (2240 kg) per hectare in 1970-71. In 2019-2020, it has reached 5.20 tonnes (5200kg) per hectare. These figures show that Punjab’s wheat productivity has increased by around 4.2 times from 1960-61 to 2019.

Then why has the usage of fertilisers has gone up by over 4000 times?

Experts in the Agriculture department said that after the introduction of the green revolution in Punjab the main focus was to increase the yield because India was having a huge shortage of wheat. So as to increase productivity, farmers started using the fertilisers in the bulk and even the imported wheat seeds needed more fertilisers and this trend caught on. “Now after Soil Health Card Scheme under which soil tests are being conducted, we are asking farmers to go as per the demand of their soil not because of the ongoing trend but majority farmers do not listen,” said a senior officer in the Punjab Agriculture Department, adding that we need to invest more on the research of good quality wheat seeds which require less amount of fertilisers or no fertilisers because fertilisers have been increasing the input cost manifold and pushing farmers under debt trap. Excess fertiliser use also impacts soil health adversely.

Apart from Rabi crop, what is the yearly consumption of fertilisers in Punjab?


There are two main cropping seasons — Kharif (April to October) and Rabi. The total usage of fertilisers is around 35.33 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) annually which includes 6.70 LMT di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). Around 5.25 LMT DAP was used in Rabi crop this year and 1.45 LMT in Kharif season in 2019, while 26.83 LMT of Urea was used including 13.03 Lakh tonnes during Kharif season and 13.80 LMT during the Rabi season. Apart from this, 1.80 LMT MOP (Muriate of Potash) and Super is used in the whole year during Rabi and Kharif season. MOP and Super are used 50,000 tonnes and 40,000 tonnes each in both the seasons. The total of all these fertilisers comes to 35.33 LMT.

Punjab has been using 9 per cent of the total fertilisers used in India while it has 1.56 per cent area of the country. According to the Punjab Agriculture and Horticulture Department, Punjab has a total of 39.71 lakh hectares (98.08 lakh acres) under cultivation which included 36.45 lakh hectares (90 lakh acres) under agricultural crops and 3.26 lakh hectares (8.05 lakh acres) under horticulture crops including vegetables, and fruits. Apart from this, farmers are also putting other nutrients in the soil also though the consumption of those is not as high as Urea and DAP.

After combining the area of both Kharif and Rabi Seasons, Punjab is cultivating 79.42 lakh hectares (196.16 acres) annually. And for this, Punjab uses 445 kg fertilisers per hectare annually and 222.5 kg per hectare per cropping season.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba

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