In Pakistan, phosphate fertilizer in wheat is conventionally applied by broadcast method before sowing crop. This is a wasteful method of fertilizer application as only 15-25% of the applied phosphate is utilized by wheat crop. The seed-cum-fertilizer drills currently used in Pakistan place fertilizer either too far from the seed or in direct contact with it. In the former case, fertilizer use efficiency is hampered and in the latter situation, relatively high rate of ammoniated phosphate fertilizer (like DAP) affects the seed germination and crop yield.
Technology Development, Development and Demonstration
To solve above mentioned problems, a fertilizer band placement drill was developed at Farm Machinery Institute, NARC, Islamabad. The drill was field tested and evaluated during 2003 wheat sowing season. This drill places fertilizer 5 cm away and 5 cm deeper than the seed. The crop roots utilize fertilizer thus applied very effectively, as 60-70% of the applied phosphate is utilized by wheat crop. Field experiments have confirmed that this drill saves 50% phosphate fertilizer compared with broadcast method. In addition, about 10% more grain yield was obtained in plots where 50% fertilizer doze (40 kg DAP/acre) was band placed using this drill than where full recommended phosphate doze (80 kg DAP/acre) was applied through broadcast.
An economic comparison of fertilizer band placement technology and the currently recommended broadcast method of fertilizer application revealed that farmer can get a benefit of Rs 3252/ha by adopting fertilizer band placement technology for wheat. PARC has already signed agreements with two local manufacturers for production of this drill on commercial scale.
Ahmad, M., A. Rashid, and A. A. Mirani. (2004). Development and evaluation of fertilizer band placement drill for wheat. Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Vol. 23(1): 41-49.