The sustainability of fertilizer usage in the rice production system and its influencers; evidence from Erode district of Tamil Nadu, India
The advent of the green revolution, besides increasing crop yields, has also substantially increased the use of synthetic fertilizers, posing adverse effects on the environment and human health. In the present study, we aimed to gain insights into the fertilizer usage patterns of paddy farmers of the Lower Bhavani Project canal region of Erode district, Tamil Nadu, through interviews, and also tried to map the individual’s source of information regarding fertilizer usage using Social Network Analysis (SNA). Results revealed that the farmers were excessively using an average of 21 kg of N, 28 kg of P2O5 and 16 kg of K2O per acre than the recommended level. By converting the excessive nitrogen usage by farmers into carbon dioxide equivalent, we found that the excess nitrogen use has resulted in around 2,552 kg of carbon dioxide emission, which would require a year by 122 trees for absorption. By mapping the individual’s source of information using SNA, we found that progressive farmers and relative farmers were the vital information sources for fertilizer usage than the agricultural officers. It is noteworthy that the awareness and adoption of biofertilizers among the surveyed farmers were very low as only 10.2% were aware of and 1.2% were adopting biofertilizers. These findings may help formulate suitable policies for rationalizing fertilizer usage by farmers to minimize fertilizer misuse, which, if left unchecked, may pose a serious concern to the environment and human health in the coming years.