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Agriculture ministry and IAEA work to develop Kingdom’s nuclear science

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Agriculture officials use nitrogen fertilizers in Samrong Tong district of Kampong Speu province last year. VENG SAKHON VIA FACEBOOK

Agriculture ministry and IAEA work to develop Kingdom’s nuclear science

The Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management is cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to receive technical support to build Cambodia’s nuclear science capacity related to the agricultural sector in order to manage nitrogen nutrients more efficiently in rice production.

The IAEA’s nitrogen “stable isotope” technique is used to quantify the amount of nitrogen plants take up from fertilizers, and then determined the precise amount of fertilizer that farmers should use at various stages of the crop’s life.

Although the IAEA is more typically associated with tasks like nuclear power or nuclear weapons non-proliferation, they also do important work in other areas of nuclear science – such as assisting developing countries use of it for agricultural purposes.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries began instructing farmers on November 19 on the use of nitrogen fertilizers through its Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management after carrying out a series of studies on them in 2014, 2018 and 2019.

The department’s guidelines call for applying the organic fertilizer in rice fields according to the information gleaned from the stable nitrogen isotope method as an effective way to increase yields.

The studies revealed that for middle-rice or rumdoul the application of 98 kg of nitrogen fertilizer per ha of rice planted in the Tuol Samrong soil type reduced crop failures due to excess nitrogen and increased the fertilizer’s effectiveness with improved yields.

Nitrogen fertilizer levels can also be reduced by up to 42 kg per ha without significantly reducing yields which may be desirable depending on the farmer’s economic situation.

The use of nitrogen fertilizer for middle-rice is done in three phases – 40 per cent during planting, 30 per cent after 30 days have passed during the first transplanting and 30 per cent after 60 days have passed and then transplanting for the second time.

Farmers must also monitor the water conditions in their fields as it influences the efficiency of nitrogen fertilizers.

“In conclusion, the above research has provided insights into the management and application of nitrogen fertilizers for high efficiency in rice production. Farmers’ awareness of these factors is a smart choice to manage nitrogen nutrients, reduce fertilizer intake and increase yields,” Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon wrote on his Facebook page.

“Effective nitrogen management increases rice yields and reduces greenhouse gas emissions . . . Effective management of nitrogen nutrients in rice production is important for . . . increasing yields, and reducing nitrogen losses to the soil and water or polluting the ecological system,” he said.

Field research was conducted at the Prey Pdav agricultural experiment station in Kampong Speu province’s Samrong Tong district operated by the General Department of Agriculture. They evaluated the effectiveness of nitrogen fertilizer through the use of compost and manure in different rice growing scenarios using certain seeds and soil types by utilizing the nitrogen stable isotope technique.

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