Dr D.L.N.Rao (Project Coordinator, Biofertilizers) focused on the most critical requirements for improving pulse productivity in India, by applying small quantities of organic manures and improved rhizobial strain selection and supply of quality inoculants. Dr Rao stressed on the recent developments in biological nitrogen-fixation, soil biodiversity and biofertilizers in the project and dwelt on the national perspective and global developments at the Group Meeting of the All India Network Project on Soil Biodiversity-Biofertilizers held at the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology from 20 to 21 August 2016.The Project Coordinator (Biofertilizers) added that the work on genetic diversity of Rhizobia of major legumes grown in India; soil meta-genomics for soil health assessment; liquid biofertilizers; microbially enriched compost, potassium (K) and zinc (Zn) solubilizing bacteria, microbial consortia for organic matter decomposition; plant growth promoting bacteria for disease control in crops and horticulture and microbial packages demonstrations in tribal areas was highlighted. Significant economic benefit with farmers earning Rs 20/- per rupee investment on biofertilizer based package was highlighted. Production of biofertilizers worth Rs 382/- lakh in the project centres was lauded.
Dr S. P.Adhikary (Vice Chancellor, Fakir Mohan University, Balasore) Special guest, deliberated on Blue green algae (BGA) and Azolla inoculants and mass production and supply by farmers groups in Odisha.
Dr S. Pasupalak (Vice Chancellor, OUAT) emphasized the need for setting up of a biofertilizer production unit at Orrisa University of Agriculture and Technology.
Dr A. K. Patra (Director, IISS) Special guest, emphasized the exploitation of soil biodiversity for improving availability of nutrients in soil, especially micronutrients and also gave examples of alleviation of iron toxicity by microbial interventions. Dr Patra highlighted the developments at Indian Institute of Soil Science (IISS) in the field of rapid soil testing and automation to meet the challenges of soil-health mission.
Dr S.K.Chaudhari, ADG (SWM) chief guest ,released the report of the project- Soil Biodiversity-Biofertilizers Research Progress 2014-16 and other publications. Dr Chaudhari emphasized on the crucial importance of improving soil organic matter, applying microbially enriched compost, soil health testing to include a physical and biological parameters and assured support for such programmes.
There were nine technical sessions which included three special sessions on: Soil Biodiversity and Climate Change; Soil Testing and Biofertilizers-Focus on Eastern India and Scientist-Industry Inter-phase. In the final session the plan of work for 2017-20 was finalized with emphasis on
- Climate change, Abiotic and Biotic Stresses, Conservation Agriculture
- Crop Diversification into Horticulture and Cash crops
- Biofertilizer technology, extension in drylands, tribal areas, North-Eastern Hills Region.
About 60 delegates including scientists of the group, invited subject matter experts, other invited scientists from ICAR institutions and SAU’s and industry representatives participated in the programme. In a field trip to villages in Achyutpur block in District Puri on 22 August 2016 the farmers in the livelihood improvement programmes using green manuring and Azolla technology reported reduction in chemical fertilizers usage by 65%, resulting in improved soil health and overall 25% savings in input costs while getting same rice yields.