Farmers are now able to test their fields' soil to determine its quality and decide on the amount of fertiliser it requires.
A joint effort of the Bangladesh Agricultural University and Humboldt University in Germany has invented a soil testing kit, that researchers are introducing at the grassroots level. They are also providing training on how to use the kit.
Most farmers indiscriminately use chemical fertiliser on their fields for better yields. Despite increasing production, this practice harms the soil.
Jamil Miah, a farmer from Brahmaputra Char of Mymensingh, said, "We have learned to farm from our ancestors. The modern agricultural system is too complex for us."
Another farmer, Azgor Ali, said farmers are interested in chemical fertilisers as they want to produce more from small plots of land. However, they do not know the amount of fertiliser to use on these plots and depend on the fertiliser wholesaler or retailer's advice for this. They have no idea how to preserve the soil's quality.
Meanwhile, Golam Mostofa, a farmer from Shutiakhali village of Mymensingh, uses the soil testing kit to test its quality – despite not having passed primary school. He also has an idea about the type and quantity of fertiliser required for a particular piece of land – reducing production costs.
He said he had purchased the soil testing kit box from the soil science department of Bangladesh Agricultural University for Tk5,000. He also received training on how to use the kit.
Bangladesh Agricultural University is providing free training on how to use the kit. Any interested farmer may directly contact the soil science department to learn about it.
ABM Ferdous Habib, an associate professor at the department, said, "Operating the kit is not too complex and any farmer can learn how to use it easily."
Professor Mohammad Mofizur Rahman, head of the soil science department, said, "Since the technology's invention, it was tested in many areas around the country before being given to the farmers. They have gradually become used to it.
"For Tk50, the test can also quickly measure the amount of nitrogen, ammonia, potassium, sulphur, phosphorus, and certain microbes, present in the soil.
"At present, training is being provided for farmers in Satkhira, Khulna and Rajshahi."