In an effort to secure food availability in Indonesia, the Ministry of Agriculture is looking to optimize unused land such as swamps and transform them into agricultural sites. As reported from KataData, Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo said that Indonesia has a swampland potential of 33.4 million ha. With around 17 million ha that can be turned into a productive agricultural site. With land management and innovative technology, unused swampland can be transformed into thriving agricultural sites. But before we get right on planting, let’s get to know the characteristics of swampland.
Characteristics of swampland
As stated in the Indonesia Ministry of Agriculture websites, based on article 1, Government Regulation No. 73 the year 2013, swamps are defined as a container of water along with the water and water power contained in it. It is continuously or seasonally flooded, naturally formed on relatively flat or sunken land, with mineral deposits or peat, and overgrown with vegetation that is in one ecosystem.
Swamps can be classified into two, tidal swamps and non-tidal swamps or lebak. These two swamps are qualified by their location and the effect of the tides. Closer to the sea is considered zone I and is affected by the daily rise and fall of salt and brackish water. Zone II is affected by the daily rise and fall of freshwater. While zone III, non-tidal swamps or lebak is not affected by any tides.
Tidal swamps are affected by the water activity around them. That resulted in a diversity of soil groups that exist in tidal swampland and caused variations in soil characteristics. Generally, tidal swampland soil is acidic with a pH level of <5.5, low fertility rate, and micro-deficient, especially on peat soils.
Non-tidal swamps or lebak are generally located in basin areas, forming various depths and duration of inundation. Its location means that the water level of the lebak swamps is very much determined by the rainfall pattern. While the soil itself is dominated by what the Ministry of Agriculture considers potential land with >50 cm of sulfidic material and a pH of >4 along with peat soil.
The benefits and content of the Biotara biofertilizer
While there are huge potentials for swampland as an agricultural site, there are some characteristics that are lacking for it to be able to produce. The acidity of swampland and its lack of nutrients demand a large number of fertilizers for it to work. But adding more chemicals can further damage the soil with residues. There goes, in order for the utilization of swampland as an agricultural site to work, the property of the soil itself needs to improve.
One way to improve the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil is by adding organic matter. Organic matter that can be found in compost helps to improve the soil by cultivating microorganisms that are beneficial for planting. Farmers in swamps generally utilize straws from previous crops to add organic matter into the soil. Unfortunately, straws contain high cellulose with a high ratio of carbon and nitrogen that makes them longer to decompose. It would need more than a month for the straws to decompose and become beneficial compost. While the productivity of swampland can vary and highly depend on soil condition and water management, farmers can’t just depend on decomposing straw to improve soil properties in between crops.
Fortunately, innovation in the form of biofertilizers can help to speed up the decomposing process. Biotara is a biofertilizer from Pupuk Kaltim that contains the microbial decomposer Trichoderma Sp and other organic matter Bacillus Sp, a P-solvent microbe, and Azospirillum Sp, N-fixing microbe. The application of Biotara in the swamp soil not only helps in speeding up the decomposition process but can also increase the effectiveness of the N, P fertilizers. It is also adaptive and can remain active in the acidic swamp soils due to the selection of superior microbes in swamps.
Additionally, the Trichoderma in Biotara acts as a control for soil-borne diseases that would lessen the need for chemical control. In the long run, the use of Biotara is beneficial for the soil because as an organic fertilizer, it does not leave chemical residue that lessens the fertility of the soil.