Nutrient Management for Sustainable Potato Production in India: New Initiative

Nutrient Management for Sustainable Potato Production in India: New Initiative

R. P. Sharma, M. K. Jatav, V. K. Dua, Manoj Kumar
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 33
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1715-3.ch002
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Potato is important crop for solving food and nutritional security problem of growing population of India. Application of N in two split dose i.e. half at planting time and rest at time of earthing up produce higher yields and higher N recovery. At the time of planting, calcium ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulphate should be preferred by furrow application. Selection of suitable variety may play major role beside time and method of application in improving nutrient use efficiency. Balanced use of major and micronutrients plays an important role in improving quality of produce besides good yield. Potato based cropping system mostly shows build up of P and negative balance of N and K which may be overcame by organic residues recycling. Intensive cropping system has resulted in wide spread deficiency of secondary and micro nutrients particularly Zn and these must be applied on soil test basis. Integrated nutrient management is a must for an exhaustive and responsive crop like potato.
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Potato, a carbohydrate rich food highly popular worldwide, can be important crop in solving food and nutritional security problem of India. This crop is third in production after rice and wheat with only 0.8% of gross cropped area. Production of rice, wheat and maize is 99.15, 80.58 and 19.29 m tonnes from 45.35, 27.88 and 8.19 m ha of land, whereas, potato produces 28.47 m tonnes from 1.55 m ha of land area. In addition, potato produces more dry matter (47.6 kg/ha/day) and edible protein (3 kg/ha/day) than the major cereal food crops and therefore, requires higher amount of nutrients on per day basis. Freshly harvested potato tubers contain about 80% water and 20% dry matter of which 70% is starch. On the dry weight basis, the protein content of potato is similar to that of cereals and is very high in comparison with other root and tuber crops. The quality of protein in potato is very high with its biological value similar to egg. In addition, the potato is low in fat (0.1%) and energy (80 k cal/100g edible portion) and is rich in several nutritional components, especially vitamin C (17 mg/100 g edible portion). The potato is a moderate source of Iron, and the non-haem form of Iron is more readily available for absorption by intestines in the presence of ascorbic acid. It is a good source of vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin and minerals such as potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium, Iron and Zinc. It can supply at least part of the daily requirement of trace elements like Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum and chromium. Dietary antioxidants and fibre in potato tubers take part in preventing diseases related to ageing and benefit health (Ezekiel et al., 1999).

Potato has emerged as one of the most important cash crop due to its fitting into many cropping systems and resulting into expansion of area of the crop. The short duration nature of this crop makes it convenient to fit it into diverse type of cropping systems in various agro-ecoregions. Potato is a unique crop in the sense that it can be harvested flexibly early or late depending upon market price and requirement of field for any other subsequent crop. Being line planted crop, it has also been identified as one of the most suitable crop for inter and relay cropping with other prevalent crops of different agro-ecoregion. No other field crop gives an opportunity to double the variable cost invested in form of gross return in just 70 to 80 days. However, this requires very intelligent farming approach and adoption of all appropriate technologies. These facts have led to development of a number of highly profitable cropping systems suitable for different zones. The diversification of conventional rice-wheat system into potato based systems like rice-potato-wheat or rice-potato-onion almost doubles the total return from the farm.

This crop is very labour intensive as most of the operations starting from planting to harvesting and storage and marketing require lot of man power thus cultivation of this crop generates very high farm employment. Moreover, to this for a marginal and small farmer this crop become a livelihood crop as from a very small piece of land in very short period using his household labour, more produce is obtained. For a country like India, where human labour is surplus and food and nutritional security is still a problem this crop has both advantage of producing more of quality food and adding to the farm employment.

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