Issue 8 2020
Positive change by numbers
Farmer Arun Kumar Bissu at his paddy field at Sirsa, Haryana state, India.
Numbers matter to farmers. No more so than at harvest when the numbers reveal how much they have produced. Nor when they cost up farm inputs to total their costs of production and therefore what profit they made. This is why the numbers recently shared from a fertilizer trial with our Polysulphate are both interesting and useful.

The fertilizer trial took place at a farmer's field in Kelania village, Sirsa District in Haryana, India during Kharif season in 2020. The crop was paddy rice. The aim was to measure the effect of the addition of an application of Polysulphate (standard grade) along with the usual farmer practice of applying DAP and urea.

Measuring matters to research science. So, as the rice plants grew, tillered, produced panicles and filled the grain, they were carefully measured, and the numbers recorded.
Paddy yield at the trial was increased by 10% with standard Polysulphate application at a dose of 120 kg/ha.
At the outset, the paddy with Polysulphate was slightly behind the paddy without the treatment, with 18.2 plants or hills per square meter compared to 18.4. But when it came to tillering there were more tillers (over 26 compared with 20) showing that the nutrients in Polysulphate helped establishment and early growth. Panicle length was slightly better (27.2 cm compared with 26.4 cm) as was the filled grain percentage (88% compared with 81%). Yield was increased by 10% with Polysulphate application: yields grew from 6,500 kg/ha (26 q/acre) without Polysulphate application up to 7,150 kg/ha (28.6 q/acre).

But were these benefits from the Polysulphate worth the extra cost compared with farmers’ usual practice? The answer is yes. Taking into account the cost of purchase of Polysulphate, the marginal cost benefit ratio was calculated as 3.09. In other words, every rupee invested in buying and applying Polysulphate was repaid more than threefold: an impressive result.

In our work to explain why farmers should invest in balanced fertilizer strategies, this is the kind of commercial edge or reality we need. A benefit is only worth paying for if it is worth it, whether that’s in the short, mid, or long term. Money is one of the clearest tools for measuring and explaining that.

We will continue to provide examples of cost benefits from Polysulphate. We could all do with any number of examples so let’s share this evidence we discover. In that way, you could say, we can ‘count’ on each other to have lots of interesting numbers to share.
Samples of paddy plants taken from the plot without Polysulphate (left) and with Polysulphate (right). The trial was conducted at Sirsa, Haryana state, India.
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Mined in the UK, ICL is the first – and only - producer in the world to mine polyhalite, marketed as Polysulphate