Agriculture development: New Formula hopes to undo soil salinity

Original liquid made with seaweed is said to yield results within five days of usage


Asif Mehmood March 03, 2021
REVERSING SALINITY: Agronomists testing soil sample for effects of organic liquid formula. PHOTO: IMTIAZ KHAN

LAHORE:

A new organic liquid developed by local agronomists has been recently used to undo the salinity of uncultivatable land in the Pindi Bhattian area of Punjab’s Hafizabad district.

Owing to which, the land which had remained barren for over a century, has now started showing signs of fertility. So far, this experiment has been carried out on various patches of lands under the authority of the Soil Salinity and Research Institute, and all have yielded promising results. Agricultural scientists privy to the experiment believe that that official recognition of this formula could be the saving grace for millions of acres of uncultivatable land in the province.

A move, which they project, will eventually boost the country’s overall agricultural production. Currently, the total area of saline soil spans over 37.14 million acres across Punjab, while salinity is fast spreading throughout the province. The Soil Salinity and Research Institute of Pindi Bhattian has spent decades trying to find a solution to the growing plague of soil salinity, in a bid to restore the ability of soil to sustain plant growth and optimize crop yield in such areas. According to the research centre’s principal agronomist Ghulam Abbas Vindh, gypsum and acid are the key ingredients currently being used in conventional soil restoration.

“The proportions really depend on how salty the soil is, but it’s an elaborate process which needs to be carried out continuously over long periods to yield any results. Our organic liquid on the other hand, has yielded promising results in just five days after use. Earthworms have started to crawl and the soil has started absorbing water,” the scientist shared. Elaborating further, Soil Salinity and Research Institute’s Aftab Ahmad Sheikh said that the country’s agriculture sector has been embroiled in a long battle against water-scarcity, rising temperatures and barren lands, all of which have aggravated soil salinity over the years.

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“This is a matter of grave concern, but there’s some relief in knowing that we might finally have a viable solution in the form of organic liquid developed by Syed Babar Bukhari. It has a chance of reversing decades of soil infertility. The long barren land of Pindi Bhattian, where the liquid was sprayed, is now being used to successfully cultivate wheat, which is a remarkable feat,” expressed Sheikh. Chief agricultural scientist Syed Babar Bukhari, who is the brain behind the said organic liquid, said that his formula has also been used to cultivate various gardens on sandy and rocky lands. The formula, he shared, also has the potential to boost crop yield and overall crop health.

Explaining the process of soil restoration, he said that the saline land is first irrigated with a mixture of his organic liquid and water. In a few days’ time, the earthworms begin to appear. As they grow, they eat the salinity away, eventually making the land permanently fertile. As per Bukhari, the usage of his organic formula, which is made from a type of sea-weed, also diminishes the use of traditional fertilisers and pesticides, making it one of the more cost-effective solutions currently available to the sector. “If the government comes to acknowledge this formula for soil restoration, we can save millions of acres of uncultivatable land. This will not only eliminate unemployment and poverty, but also greatly encourage the country’s agricultural production,” he told The Express Tribune.

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