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Unbalanced fertilizer use in the Eastern Gangetic Plain: The influence of Government recommendations, fertilizer type, farm size and cropping patterns

Chatterjee, D., Islam, Md.S., Bell, R.W.ORCID: 0000-0002-7756-3755, Miah, M.A.M. and Alam, M.J. (2022) Unbalanced fertilizer use in the Eastern Gangetic Plain: The influence of Government recommendations, fertilizer type, farm size and cropping patterns. PLoS ONE, 17 (7). Art. e0272146.

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Intensive cropping systems with diverse cropping patterns present a challenge for nutrient management on smallholder farms. Government-endorsed recommendations for crop fertilizer use are designed to assist farmers achieve profitable and balanced nutrient inputs, but it is unclear how closely farmers follow these recommendations. We identified farmers’ current nutrient use gaps (overuse or underuse) relative to the Government-endorsed recommended nutrient doses in two cropping patterns in three representative Agro-ecological Zones of Bangladesh. A total of 330 farms were surveyed in 2019 from three farm size categories (referred to as large-, medium and small-scale) and their gaps in nutrient use were assessed relative to Government-endorsed Fertilizer Recommendation Guides (FRG) published in 2012 and in 2018: FRG-2012 and FRG-2018. The large- and medium-scale farms used 11–16%, 80–90% and 21–30%, respectively, over-doses of NPK in the cropping season under fully rice-based cropping pattern relative to FRG-2012 recommendations, while the over-dose levels were much lower for small-scale farms. Small-scale farms used much less than recommended S, Mg, Zn, B and organic manure (OM) rates relative to FRG-2012. The FRG-2018, which increased N and K recommendations but decreased the P recommendation for rice crops relative to FRG-2012, shows that all farms can decrease the dose of P (by 50%) while small-scale farms need to increase the dose of N (7%), K (16%), S (20%) and to apply Zn in the fully rice-based cropping pattern. On the other hand, the farms could greatly reduce NPK (19%, 86% and 44%, respectively) use while increasing S (14%), Mg, Zn, B and OM use relative to FRG-2018 in the pattern with the high-value potato crop. To increase crop profitability, enhance food security and save Government treasury in the Eastern Gangetic Plain enabling approaches are needed to effectively communicate the benefits of balanced nutrient use practices to farmers.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Farming Systems
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2022 Islam et al.
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