BioAg’s research partner in India, the Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) in Kolkata cooperated with the International Potato Center in a recent trial (November 2012 – March 2013) in the Sundarban District of West Bengal to determine a suitable fertiliser application regime for saline soils, and to test various potato varieties to determine which offered higher yields. West Bengal is the third largest potato growing state in India after Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, but the productivity is relatively low as flooding is frequent and, as a consequence, the soils are saline.
The International Potato Center (known by its Spanish acronym CIP) is a research-for-development organization with a focus on potato, sweet potato, and Andean roots and tubers. CIP, which is based in Lima, Peru, is dedicated to delivering sustainable science-based solutions to the pressing world issues of hunger, poverty, gender equity, climate change and the preservation of our Earth’s fragile biodiversity and natural resources.
Potato PhotoBioAg’s contribution to this trial was in the soil nutrition component, and our recommendations were based on trials done by the CSS on our behalf in 2011/12.
The fertiliser treatments are shown in the following table.

Urea

kg/ha

DAP

kg/ha

MOP

kg/ha

Soil & Seed

l/ha

BioAgPhos

kg/ha

Fertiliser Cost

Standard Treatment

434

680

250

0

0

INR 18,660

AUD 335

BioAg Treatment

632

170

250

10

865

INR 28,394

AUD 510

In the BioAg treatment, the principal difference was to substitute part of the DAP with BioAgPhos, so that BioAgPhos contributed 75% of the phosphorus applied, and to add 10 l/ha of Soil & Seed, BioAg’s liquid microbial nutrient designed to stimulate rapid germination and early root development. The N, P and K levels remained the same in each treatment.
The yields in tonne/ha for each of seven varieties of potatoes and for each of the two fertiliser treatments are shown in the following table. The variety Kufri Jyoti is one of the most popular varieties of potato grown in India, followed by Kufri Pukraj. The other five varieties, with the CIP designations, were trial varieties developed and supplied by CIP.

Variety

Standard

Treatment (t/ha)

BioAg

Treatment (t/ha)

CIP 4148 (V1)

23.29

27.36

K. Jyoti (V2)

16.67

27.20

K. Pukraj (V3)

15.34

29.95

CIP 4175 (V4)

27.97

30.23

CIP 4181 (V5)

21.20

29.53

CIP 4197 (V6)

20.17

31.41

CIP 4206 (V7)

26.05

32.38

Mean

21.62

29.69

All of the varieties (the popular Indian varieties and the CIP varieties) produced higher yields under the BioAg treatment. The Kufri Pukraj plot produced a 94% increase and CIP 4197 a 56% better yield. The mean increase in yield for all varieties was 37% in favour of the BioAg plots.
The research team remarked that generally the quality of the BioAg fertilised tubers was better than that of the standard treatment. The tubers were more uniform, a greater percentage were of marketable size (hence the higher yields), and the skins were better formed.
The gross and net revenues per ha achieved on the basis of the average 37% increase in yield are shown in the following table.

Standard Treatment

BioAg Treatment

Increase

Gross Revenue per ha INR 129,703 AUD 2,329 INR 178,157 AUD 3,199 INR 48,454 AUD 870
Net Revenue per ha INR 111,043 AUD 1,994 INR 149,764 AUD 2,689 INR 38,721 AUD 695
Farm gate price for potatoes per tonne: INR 6,000 (AUD 107.7)

Thus, for an increase in fertiliser cost of approximately $175 per ha, the net increase in return achieved was approximately $695. This translates to a four-fold return on investment in the additional nutrients.
The CIP research team was encouraged by the results, and plan to carry out a further series of similar trials in the different potato growing regions throughout India.