Bharti's Field Fresh farm shows low nutrition levels

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Ludhiana, Jan 14: The soil fertility analysis at Bharti Groups, Field Fresh Foods Private Limited farm has indicated low levels of organic carbon, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc and copper.

The analysis on the 300 acre-- Field Fresh Agriculture, Centre of Excellence, Model Farm at Ladhowal near here was done by the Department of Soils of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

The soil testing was done as per MoU signed by Field Fresh Foods Private Limited with PAU, for promoting research, extension, exchange of information and technology in areas of mutual concern related to vegetable and fruit cultivation. A consultancy project was taken up last year for the preparation of a soil map of the farm.

The collaboration between Farm Fresh and PAU is aimed at promoting development of technologies for the production of export quality fruits and vegetables around the year and development of infrastructure for research. For taking up the programme, a detailed analysis of the field soil was carried out.

The soil test reports indicated that 58 per cent samples tested low in organic carbon, 16 per cent in available phosphorus and 7 per cent in available potassium. Moreover, 56 per cent samples were deficient in micro nutrients such as available iron (14%), manganese and zinc (8 per cent). Available copper was found deficient in less than 2 per cent soil samples only.

Giving details of the soil sampling, Dr V Beri head of PAU's Soils Department said that six thematic maps pertaining to status of organic carbon, available phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, and manganese were prepared that indicate the macro and micro status of individual field at the farm. He added that thematic maps will be useful for undertaking remedial measures for correcting the multi-nutrient deficiencies and that these will act as soil-health card for each field.

Dr Beri said that soil health of each field was investigated by analyzing critical soil health parameters like pH, electrical conductivity, texture, organic carbon, available phosphorus, available potassium, available zinc, copper, iron and manganese etc. Based on the findings made by the PAU soil scientists, the Field Fresh Foods prepared an illustrated project report.

The report provides information on the yields of vegetable crops in coarse and heterogeneious soils, he added. PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Manjit Singh Kang presented copies of the report and CDs to Dr A K Johri, Head of Research and Development and Mr Kevin Parker, Chief Project Operator of Field Fresh Foods Private Limited today. While presenting the report Dr Kang said that the MoU signed between Field Fresh and PAU will further the ongoing R&D in the priorities area of vegetable production for export. The detailed edaphic mapping at Ladhowal, done through rigorous efforts of scientists, will be useful in reclaiming micro nutrient deficiencies and will be a step towards precision farming, the VC stated.

Mr Parker appreciated the support the company got from PAU experts and said that Mr Rakesh Mittal of Bharti Group has appreciated this collaborative tieup with PAU in the area of precision farming of vegetable crops.

PAU soil scientists, Dr B D Sharma, Dr Raj Kumar and the officials of the university's soil testing laboratory were involved in this soil mapping programme.

PAU's Dean, Post Graduate Studies, Dr S K Mann who was also present when the report was presented said that the collaboration with Field Fresh had strengthened the public sector participation in the university's programmes. Field Fresh has not only collaborated in research but in education also, she said Dr Mann pointed out that under the MoU, monthly fellowships of 1800 per student, entitled 'Bharti-Field Fresh Fellowship' will be awarded from the academic year 2007-08 to four students for their PhD programmes at PAU in the field of Agronomy, Entomology, Plant Pathology and vegetable crops. Other areas that have been and Agricultural Chemistry and Plant Breeding technology.

Dr Mann said that guidelines and committees for the award of fellowships to students had been formulated. She informed that PAU and Field Fresh will jointly decide the area of research which will benefit the farming community and are of interest to both the participating organisations.

UNI

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