Farmers in Sirkazhi-Kollidam belt in Nagapattinam district say they are able to observe a reduction in soil salinity after the spells of rainfall in recent months.“Paddy crop is growing well in vast tracts of fields that had lost greenery due to the saline conditions prior to the rainfall,” Saravanan, a farmer in Kollidam block, said.The Agriculture Department has been mooting cultivation of alternative crops like green manure crop to restore fertility of the soil on the one hand and encouraging farmers to switch over to CSR 36, the new salt tolerant rice variety on the other.
The rice variety maturing in 120-125 days has been found to give yield of 70 qutintal per hectare under normal soil and 43 quintal per hectare under sodic soil. “The resistance of the paddy variety to saline conditions has been proved beyond doubt in the district,” S. Paneerselvam, Joint Director In-Charge, Department of Agriculture, Nagapattinam, said.Over exploitation of groundwater from the coastal fresh water aquifer systems had caused sea water ingress in the Kollidam-Sirkazhi belt. Since the inland ingress of sea water is to the extent of five to six km, farmers in this area have reminded the State Government of an earlier proposal to construct a check-dam at Achalpuram in Kollidam block.
The soil health will last only till the summer months when there is bound to be sea water ingress again due to extraction of groundwater for drinking and farming purposes, farmers pointed out.It is to improve the agricultural prospects in this region that the government has taken up the project to construct a new barrage across the Kollidam river between Adhanur in Cuddalore district and Kumaramangalam in Nagapattinam district.While water will be supplied through irrigation canals for raising crops owing to construction of the barrage that is located at least six km away from the sea, the government has to simultaneously take up the work on construction of the check dam at Achalpuram, located just two km from the sea.This will help find a perennial remedy to the drinking water crisis in as many as 50 coastal villages, the farmers in the region emphasise.