MITRA© - Mobile Apps for Soil and Crop Nutrient Management
More than two-thirds of the world’s poor and malnourished live in Asia and high level of heterogeneity prevails in farm size, farm income and farm resources categories. It was projected that India would surpass China before 2030 to become the world’s most populated country (Lumpkin, T. A., 2013). Feeding the people on sustainable way with shrinking natural resources especially soils is really an up hilling task. The food grain production could be achieved at the cost of depletion of soil nutrients only. For instance each ton of cereal produced, 20-27 Kgs N (Nitrogen), 10 -19 Kgs P2O5 Kgs (Phosphorus) and 22-48 Kgs of K2O (Potassium) are removed. The soil fertility map of 450 districts in India clearly indicates that around 63 percent of the districts are coming under low Nitrogen fertility category where as more than one-third ( 42 percent ) are under low Phosphorus fertility category and around 50 percent of soil represents low and medium level of potash fertility level (K.Dinesh and Nain Singh, 2015.)The farmers wish to have the best out of crop production and tend to apply higher dose of fertilizers which in turn increase the cost of production. The external application of excessive dose of fertilizers and nutrients also makes the scenario still worse. It is miserable to note that among Indian states, Tamil Nadu is in the top list of applying more doses of fertilizers of about 220 kgs/ha. The restoration of soil fertility is the most crucial for food security and can be achieved only through proper balanced and integrated nutrient management practices. The farmers should be well informed with optimum dose of fertilizer application along with nutrient management practices. The advocacy on correct dose of fertilizers may lead to sustainable yields as well as reduce the expenditure on agro inputs.
Integrated nutrient management and Soil Testing
Integrated nutrient management practices such use of organic manures, biofertilizers, more importantly judicious use of chemical fertilizers is utmost important to restore soil fertility. Every farmer should conduct soil testing periodically to assess the soil health and should aware about reclamation practices. The capacity strengthening programme for farmers for nutrient management would ensure balanced application of nutrients and sustainable crop yields. The input traders highly influencing the purchase pattern viz., the nature of fertilizers and brand of fertilizers. In India, presently around 661 Soil testing laboratories including 120 mobile soil testing labs covering 608 districts with analyzing capacity of about 7 millions. Even the farmers who aware about their soil fertility status, faces practical difficulties in choosing correct dose of fertilizers. The farmers have to keep the soil testing results in hand while purchasing the nutrients and while visiting the agriculture extension officers. Though the knowledge production centres striving for technology transfer, there exists an information gap between clientele and knowledge centres. The work load of the farmers, experts availability, time constraints and information asymmtricity leads to over or lesser dose of fertilizers, higher cost of cultivation and soil fertility deterioration in the long run.
Mobile based Advisories
To bridge the information gap, Information and Communication Technology tools viz., computers, Mobile Phones etc., can play a pivotal role. With increasing mobile ownership of 951.37 million, Mobile technology has many more advantages such as personalized information sharing, instant delivery of message, mobility of devices and cheaper cost for deployment than any other ICT devices such as computers, Internet etc., Through mobiles, people in rural areas can connect with the local, regional and national knowledge centres able to receive farm based services, access markets and avail banking/ financial services.
Mobile Application for decision support
Application softwares popularly called as ‘Apps’ paves the way for individual to connect with networks. The Agro info apps ensures the direct participation of small holders in the decision making practices and integrates all the stakeholders in the crop value chain system.
MITRA© (Mobile Interventions and Technologies for Rural Areas) apps for instant advocacy on fertilizer dose recommendation
MITRA© - Mobile Interventions and Technologies for Rural Areas (meaning as Friend) has become the latest arrival to the smart phone App for Agro information that can provide farmers with advice on exact dose fertilizer for their particular needs. The Mobile Application developed by K.C.Siva balan, Researcher from Tamil Nadu, India is under testing and pre launching stage in Tamil Nadu, South India. The App is devised to work in an offline mode, where the farmers need not have any internet connections. The App is available in English and Tamil languages.
The Android as well as Windows based app is designed primarily for farmers who hardly need decision support for agriculture input management especially fertilizers.
The option nutrient would give the symptoms of nutrient disorders with corrective measures. The app is devised with crop nutrient deficiency images to use at ease by farmers who lack in mobile operating skills. Since the important nutrient disorders are given with images for better clarity of diagnosis, all the stakeholders of Agricultural advisories can use the Apps for better diagnosis and scientific recommendation of nutrients
The farmers who are not aware of the fertilizer recommendation can get the blanket recommendation by clicking the option fertilizer guideline. The site specific nutrient recommendation will be given in this option.
Option: Fertilizer calculator
The farmers can calculate the exact fertilizer dose by using the option fertilizer calculator. If the farmers type the nutrients viz., Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash based on the soil testing results, the required fertilizer quantity will be instantly displayed in the screen. The farmers can choose the right dose of fertilizers without the influence of traders which not only reduces the cost of inputs and also restores soil fertility.
The Smartphone users with net connectivity could access the information from blogs, databases, Portals, websites etc., themselves on various topics on nutrient management of important crops with a net connectivity.
The extension workers could use this App for advocating site-specific recommendations to farmers on fertilizer dose. The information available is based on the latest research by Department of Agriculture, Government of Tamil Nadu, India. The downloading of MITRA© App would be of free of cost. The farmers with smart phones can download the MITRA© App as open source ware.