By Martha C.Straus Sharon Pastor Simson
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The efficient use of plant nutrients in agriculture. In Fertilizers and Agriculture, special edition. 3 Crop Irrigation Management Irrigation is an artificial application of water to the soil usually for assisting in growing crops. In crop production it is mainly used in dry areas and in periods of rainfall shortfalls, but also to protect plants against frost. Additionally irrigation helps to suppress weed growing in rice fields. In addition, irrigation helps to prevents soil consolidation. In contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed farming.
Successful INM extension will also require greater monitoring and testing of plants and soils. Monitoring will help ensure that an environment conducive for optimal plant growth and crop yield can be established through nutrient application and ,soil reclamation. Where practical and available, testing techniques such as plant-nutri~nt deficiency diagnosis, plant tissue analysis, biological comparison tests across soils, and chemical soil analysis are needed to help the farmer improve crop and soil management.
Important input sources include inorganic fertilisers; organic fertilisers such as manure, plant residues, and cover crops; nitrogen generated by leguminous plants; and atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Nutrients are exported from the field through harvested crops and crop residues, as well as through leaching, atmospheric volatilisation, and erosion. The difference between the volume of inputs and outputs constitutes the nutrient balance. Positive nutrient balances in the soils could indicate that farming systems are inefficient and, in the extreme, that they may be polluting the environment.