Jute is an important commercial crop of Eastern India. It spreads over an area of around 8 million ha in the states like West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and some part of Uttar Pradesh. The crop is very much responsive to external application of major and micro nutrients. Latest soil fertility report of country by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has highlighted the role of Sulphur in agricultural crops.
Around 42% jute growing districts of West Bengal and 43% jute growing districts of Bihar is facing the problem of Sulphur deficiency (www.targetmap.com). Moreover farmers also do not emphasize on application of Sulphur. Thus, Sulphur, is also becoming a limiting factor to realize yield potential of jute in such areas.
At national level, imbalanced application of chemical fertilizer and decreased application of farm yard manure (FYM) or organic manure has further aggravated the situation by reducing the profitability and livelihood of farming communities.
Now a days, the practice of burning of crop residues in the agricultural field, weaning away the practice of application of Ammonium Sulphate, Single Super Phosphate, increased population coupled with high cropping intensity (three or more) is exhausting the soil of Sulphur content whereas no additional sulphur is being added. Moreover, area expansion under oilseed and pulse crops has also raised the rate of Sulphur consumption from 6 kg/ha/annum to 20-40 kg/ha/annum.
There are two types of jute available for commercial cultivation i.e. Tossa (Corchorusolitorius) and White (Corchoruscapsularis). On an average 9.3 kg and 13.8 kg Sulphur is required respectively for production of 1 ton fibre from Tosss and White species of jute plant (Bhattacharya, 2012). Therefore, it is always advised to the jute growers to apply balanced dose of chemical fertilizer i.e. Sulphur along with Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash in order to harvest maximum amount of jute fibre from such type of land.
Sulphur plays a vital role in chlorophyll, amino acid, protein and fat synthesis of jute plant. There are various factors which influence its availability in soil. With enhancement of soil temperature, Farm Yard Manure, clay, lime and salt content in soil availability of Sulphur to the plant also increases. While, soil acidity has antagonistic relationship with availability of Sulphur.
In flooded condition, except saline soil, the availability of Sulphur increases. Nature and type of vegetation also determine its availability in soil. There is more available Sulphur in forest soil in comparison to cultivated land. Leaching is a major source of its losses in high rainfall areas. High cropping intensity coupled with high dose of high analysis fertilizer application leads to lesser availability of Sulphur in soil.
Deficiency symptom of Sulphur and Nitrogen is very close to each other. In contrast to Nitrogen, the deficiency symptom appears in younger leaves of jute plant. The leaves become pale. The growth of plant is checked, resulting less fibre yield in comparison to normal one. Generally, deficiency symptom of Sulphur appears in plant when its availability become less than 23 kg/ha.Supply of Sulphur in jute plant takes place through the process like organic matter of previous crop residues (1.5 kg S/ton), gaseous form or dissolved in rain water (2.4-6.4 kg S/ton), dissolved in irrigation water and fertilizer and plant protection chemical.
Jute plants are not capable to absorb Sulphur directly from elemental Sulphur. Jute plants absorb Sulphur in the form of sulphate through their root system. Bacteria living in soil make it available to plant through a microbial process. Therefore, it is always advised to apply elemental Sulphur @ 30 kg/ha 3-6 weeks before sowing of crop. Degraded nutrient is slowly released to the root system of the plant by the bacteria through process of oxidation.
Normally, criteria for selection of Sulphur fertilizer is determined by its availability and content of available Sulphur, method of cultivation (type of crop/variety) etc. Zinc Sulphate is good for soil deficient in Zinc and Sulphur. Pyrites are good for calcareous and alkaline types of soil. In acidic soil Potassium Sulphate and Magnesium Sulphate has been found effective.
As per the need, a jute grower should adopt any one method for efficient use of Sulphur fertilizer (Beaton, 1987 ) presented below:
- For immediate availability water soluble all sulphate containing fertilizer should be applied in the field as basal or top dress.
- For medium term availability in alkaline and calcareous type of soils elemental Sulphur, thiosulphate should be applied.
- For long term availability coarse type of elemental Sulphur products should be applied.
Validation of drought management technologies by ICAR-Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres, Barrackpore has revealed that one post irrigation with N:P:K: : 60:30:30 and elemental Sulphur @ 30 kg/ha could fight drought stress under deficit rainfall and rainfed environment(Ghorai et. al. 2013).
Moreover, this practice resulted 16-17% increased fibre yield over farmer’s practice (21-29 q/ha). Thus a farmer could get an additional income of Rs. 4,000-7,000/ha (approx.) by spending Rs. 2,300-2,700/ha (approx.) for Sulphur application (Kumar and Ghorai, 2014).
Thus adoption of above guidelines by a jute grower may help in maximization of yield of jute fibre through management of Sulphur nutrient in their field.
- Bhattacharya B. (2012) Advances in jute agronomy, processing and marketing, P.H.I. Learning Private Limited, New Delhi- 110 001
- Beaton J.D.(1987) Desirable characteristics of S containing fertilizer sulphur requirement and sources in developing countries of Asia and the Pacific, FAD/NAP/FAO/TSI/ACIAR, Bankok, 101-111
- Ghorai A.K. , Saha S. , Saren B.K. , Hembram P.K. , Mandal B. K. , Thokle J.G. , More S.R. , Srilata T. , Jagannndham G. , Tripathi M.K., Kumar S., KunduD.K.andMahapatraB.S. (2013). Drought management of jute and mesta crop under deficit rainfall. Technical Bulletin No. 5/2013, ICAR-CRIJAF, Barrackpore
- https://www.targetmap.com/viewer.aspx?reportId=46333, Indian Sulphur deficiency TSI. Accessed in June 2017
- Kumar S. and Ghorai A.K. (2014) Improved production techniques of jute in drought like situation, RashtriyaKrishi, 9(2):11-13
Shaileshkumar* and A.K.Ghorai**
*Senior Scientist,ICAR-Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres, Barrackpore, Kolkata-700 120
**Principal scientist,ICAR-Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres, Barrackpore, Kolkata-700 120