MAKING A DIFFERENCE
To feed the growing population, India clearly needs a second green revolution that is broad-based, inclusive and sustainable; the farmers need to produce more without the environment getting any more depleted. This was clearly understood by the government and to feed the growing population and make farming a more sustainable and profitable business the Narendra Modi Government has decided to introduce customized fertilisers (CFs) across the country. According to Department of Fertilisers, to address the special need of a region or crop and to optimise the benefit of fertilisers in a cost-effective manner, farmers and fertilisers companies are being asked to focus on customized fertilisers. The government is planning to introduce customised fertilizers in an attempt to boost agricultural production, doubling farmers’ income and reducing the cost of cultivation.
WHAT ARE CUSTOMIZED FERTILIZERS?
CF is prepared by tweaking the proportions of urea and micronutrients in a way that the end products are suited to meet the special needs of varied types of soil, crops, and climate. Customized fertilizers is the use of the Fertilizers Best Management Practices and are generally assumed to maximize crop yields while minimizing unwanted impacts on the environment & human health.
BENEFITS OF USING CFs
- The use of CF will increase the agriculture production by 30 per cent and also ensure that the soil fertility is safeguarded.
- Production of customized fertilizers will ensure improved ‘Fertilizer Use Efficiency’ and will create a new “Virtual” source of nutrients, implying from the existing quantity of Urea, available & consumed in India, the agricultural produce output will increase. Simultaneously the distribution & availability of fertilizer will be better. Customized fertilizer satisfies crop’s nutritional demand, specific to area, soil, and growth stage of plant.
- CF enhances crop productivity with better benefit cost ratio.
- It is a one-time application of all macro and micro nutrients, except nitrogen, and is hence convenient to use.
- It promotes balanced application of nutrients.
- It is granulated to ensure uniform distribution of nutrients.
AVAILABILITY OF CF
Tata Chemicals is one of the pioneers in the field of customised fertilizers. Sold under the brand name Paras Farmoola, these fertilisers contain macro and micro nutrients required by selected crops in specific regions. They have been developed on the basis of soil, crop and water sample analyses. Paras Farmoola fertilisers have been rigorously tested through more than 300 research experiments conducted on the field and at 12 Krishi Vigyaan Kendras. Field trials conducted on over 20,000 samples of crops such as paddy, wheat, potato, maize and sugarcane from 25 districts in western Uttar Pradesh, report a significant increase in yield over traditional fertilisers. The fertilisers are produced at the company’s state-of-the-art, 1,30,000MT capacity facility at Babrala, Uttar Pradesh. Apart from Tata Chemicals, Zuari Agro, Coromandel Fertilisers, Deepak Fertilisers, Petrochemicals Corp and Nagarjuna Fertilisers are some of the companies which are betting big on customized fertilisers. It is estimated that over `700 crore investments would be made by these companies to make need-based soil nutrients. Several private companies aim to set up over the dozen of new customized fertilisers’ plants at an approximate investment of `60 crore each.
These customised fertilizers promote sustainable agriculture by maintaining soil health and providing the best nutritional package for better plant growth and premium quality output. The fertilisers help correct the nutrient imbalance in the soil caused by prolonged inadequate and indiscriminate use of fertilisers, thus contributing to better crop productivity. CF units can be set up with low investments in the range of `50-60 crore and the gestation period for every unit is only 7-10 months. In comparison, a urea plant typically needs an initial investment of about `400 to 500 crore and has a turn-around period of three to four years.
The production of urea during 2015-16 was 244.75 lakh metric tonnes with the contribution of Public Sector, cooperative sector and private sector as 70.80, 69.36 and 104.59 lakh metric tonnes respectively. At present, there are 30 urea units in our country. Out of these thirty urea units, 27 urea units use Natural Gas (using either domestic gas/LNG or both) as feedstock and fuel and remaining three urea units viz (i) MCFL Mangalore (ii) MFL, Manali and (iii) SPIC Turicorin use Naptha as feedstock and fuel. The total production of urea in 2016-17 was 242.01 lakh metric tonnes as compared to annual assessment capacity of 207.54 lakh million tonnes. In 2015-16, as mentioned earlier the total production was 244.75 lakh metric tonnes with the contribution of public, cooperative and private sectors as 70.80, 69.36 and 104.59 lakh metric tonnes respectively.