The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday rewarded 12 farmers for their successful use of fertilizers and reducing their reliance on harsh fertilizers.
Fertilizer is an indispensable element in agricultural production, but in view of farmers’ common misuse or overuse of fertilizers and the international price hike for fertilizer ingredients in 2008, the council started a program to establish teams at district agricultural research and extension stations to offer advice on appropriate fertilizer use.
As a result, 1,324 demonstration sites have been established, the council said, adding that soil fertility analysis has been performed 177,412 times, and 2,103 instructional workshops have been held to instruct farmers about reasonable fertilizer usage.
The council said there are currently 63 types of crop in the demonstration areas, with fertilizer use about 35 percent lower than normal, amounting to an average reduction of 293kg of fertilizers for each hectare of farmland, cutting fertilizer and manpower costs by about NT$3,500 per hectare.
Overuse of harsh fertilizers can damage the soil and nearby ecology, and does not guarantee better tasting or healthier agricultural products, it said.
The 12 farmers receiving awards were recommended by district agricultural research and extension stations for their usage of fertilizer, taking in account soil conservation, amounts of fertilizer used, production outcome and cooperation with related policies.
One of the farmers, Chen Yung-te (陳永德), said reducing chemical fertilizer use by at least 25 percent and using organic fertilizers such as fermented milk or Chinese medicinal herbs has solved the problem of soil acidification, allowing him to produce good quality jujubes that can now be exported.
Another farmer, Wu Ching-chin (吳清進), said using manure to replace chemical fertilizers has allowed him to produce sweeter mangos than before, which he is now able to profitably export to Japan.