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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Farmers keen on soil testing to reduce fertiliser cost

Daily News: 17/10/2007" Anjana Samarasinghe in Dambulla

Local farmers are now more on to soil testing to reduce the fertiliser cost in different cultivations.

Laboratory, Quality Control and Location Manager of the CIC Agri Business Centre Pelwehera Priyanga Dematawa said they have noticed a considerable growth in soil testing in their lab.
"Many tea smallholders are keen on doing soil testing before they cultivate. There is an increased interest in vegetable and fruit farmers to go for soil testing.

"Soil testing allows growers to identify whether the cultivation they have chosen is suitable for the soil. "If the cultivation is not suitable for growers, they have to spend large amounts of money for fertiliser, which will increase the production cost of the harvest.

"Through soil testing we advise growers on the kind of cultivations they should use and the ingredients they need to add for better harvesting, Dematawa said.

"We handle 22 samples and we could provide the test result within a short period of time at our soil plant and water analytical Laboratory in the Pelwehera farm. We provide these testing facilities at a subsidised rate, Dematawa said. Most of the farmers believe that nutrient deficiency of the soil is a disease in their plantation. Farmers need to identify these nutrient deficiencies and put necessary nutrients into the cultivation.

'The Sri Lankan agriculture sector has been subsidised for urea and plants need other nutrition for better harvest.

The Soil, Plant and Water Analytical Laboratory was opened in 2003 with the technical support of the Phosphate and Potash Institute of Canada.

Pelwehera farm also has a tissue culture laboratory for production of tissue culture planting material on a commercial scale. High quality planting material of fruits and ornamental plants are produced at this laboratory.

Dematawa said this laboratory provides over two million plants per year specially banana plants.

The farm is also equipped with a seed-testing laboratory. All seeds and planting material produced in the farm as well as throughout-growers are subject to stringent quality tests at the lab.

The other facilities at the Pelwehera farm include agri-techno parks and it has a variety of plants and endangered species. Green houses and drip irrigation too are demonstrated at the park.

The farm also produces paddy, coconut and big onion seeds for the local agricultural sector. Poultry and fresh water prawn farms are also located in the Pelwehera farm. There is a huge demand for agriculture tourism in Sri Lanka and the company expects to develop an agriculture tourism site inside the farm, he said.

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