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Nirmala Sitharaman launches facility for online fertilizer recommendation for rubber
Kottayam, 01 February 2017

Hon’ble Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman launched RubSIS (Rubber Soil Information System), an online system for recommending the mix of fertilizers to specific rubber plantations in a function held at Udyog Bhavan, New Delhi. Ms. Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary and other senior officials of the Ministry and Rubber Board were present at the occasion.

RubSIS, developed by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) in collaboration with Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala; National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning; ICAR and National Remote Sensing Centre, ISRO, brings soil data to the fingertips of rubber growers and recommends the optimum mix and quantities of chemical fertilizers that their holdings require.

The scientific and user friendly online fertilizer recommendation system was launched for Kottayam (Kerala), the largest rubber growing district of India which will be extended to the entire traditional rubber growing region i.e. the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu this year. Rubber growers can access the site Rubber Board invites suggestions/comments on this package so as to make it user friendly and fruitful to the growers. Board is in the process of developing this in the local languages which will be launched shortly.

Rubber Research Institute of India in collaboration with National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS& LUP) undertook a detailed survey of rubber growing soils of South India (Kanyakumari, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra) with an objective to bring the entire rubber area in the country within the ambit of soil test based fertilizer recommendation. Rubber growing area (three years and above) in each panchayat was estimated with satellite images (scale 1:500000) and one composite soil sample (up to 30 cm depth) was collected from each 50 ha rubber area by trained personnel under the supervision of officers of Rubber Research Institute of India.

Location co-ordinates of sites of soil sample collection were recorded by GPS. Eleven thousand soil samples were collected during the period and from December 2012 to May 2013. Soil samples were analyzed following standard protocols for pH; organic carbon and available status of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, zinc, boron, iron, manganese, and copper and exchangeable aluminium in the laboratories of NBSS& LUP, Bangalore and RRII. Soil fertility was mapped with geostatistical techniques, deriving a surface using the values from the measured locations to predict values for each location in the landscape by kriging interpolation technique.

Studies conducted by Rubber Research Institute of India have clearly showed that rubber plantations with adequate soil conservation measures are nearly closed systems and more or less maintain soil fertility status. However, since the soil samples are geo-referenced, the fertility status of the same site can be monitored randomly at periodic intervals for changes if any, following a precautionary principle and updating can be made if necessary.

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