Keywords: efficient use, empirical evidence, environmental consequences, environmental strategies, environmental technologies, fertilizers, pesticides, India, environmental impact, sustainable development, sustainable agriculture
Environmental dimensions of fertilizer and pesticide use; relevance to Indian agriculture
This paper presents an overview of the environmental consequences of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and the measures needed to mitigate the adverse impact of these chemicals on environment. The issues are then analysed from the perspective of the use of fertilizers and pesticides in Indian agriculture. Fertilizer consumption in India is concentrated in about one-third of the cultivated area. Its use has been increasing but it is being used inefficiently. Pesticide use is also concentrated in five states and on a few crops such as rice, cotton and chillies. Evidence from micro studies on the environmental consequences of these chemicals is presented. It is suggested that the present methods of fertilizer and pesticide use and growth are not sustainable. There are several possible technologies and alternatives to reduce the adverse impact of these chemicals on the environment, such as biological control of pests, integrated pest management, development of pest-resistant varieties of crops, vermiculture. etc., that need to be supplemented through an economic approach. These issues need to be considered while formulating strategies for sustainable agriculture in India and other developing countries.