The Emergence of Polyhalite in Indian Organic Farming

Polyhalite: Cultivating Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Resilience in India

January 7, 2024
2 mins
Dr. P.S. Gahlaut | M.D. of Indian Potash Limited (IPL)

The introduction of polyhalite as a fertilizer is causing a significant shift in Indian organic farming. Dr. PS Gahlaut, the Managing Director of Indian Potash Limited (IPL), champions this natural mineral’s remarkable ability to reshape organic farming practices in the country. Polyhalite’s emergence brings a multi-nutrient and eco-friendly option to the table, characterized by its high purity and minimal processing. Polyhalite is a natural occurring mineral, formed around 260 million years ago and it is mined at a depth of 1200 meters below the Northern Sea on the northeastern coast of England. This natural crystal mineral, containing four essential nutrients – sulfur, potassium, magnesium, and calcium – offers a sustainable alternative with a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional fertilizers.

Polyhalite is available in its natural state, it has no industrial processes, and it comes from the mine to the fields. Polyhalite has a low environmental impact as it has the lowest carbon footprint when compared to common fertilizers. This contributes to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with sustainable agricultural practices.

Being a natural mineral fertilizer, it is widely approved for use in organic agriculture internationally – holding organic certificates in many countries.

Polyhalite releases gradually its nutrients, thus allowing for a steady supply of nutrients, which enhances plant growth, and minimizes the risk of nutrient leaching and runoff. Polyhalite allows applying nutrients in a balanced way to nurture the crops and maintain soil fertility.  Its low salt index and the very low chloride contents makes it ideal and safe for use even on sensitive crops.

Polyhalite not only increases crops’ yields, but also enhances the quality parameters like increases protein/oil content in seeds and grains, improved disease resistance, bigger fruits and vegetables. Polyhalite increases the nutritional quality of fruits, vegetables and processed foods like bread and potato chips.

One success story of polyhalite in India is for turmeric cultivation in South India. An experiment conducted in Erode (Tamil Nadu) by Annamalai University showed that the crop responds significantly to the application of polyhalite. The rhizome yield and quality (curcumin content) increased with the application of polyhalite. This outstanding performance can be attributed to the experimental soil’s initially low potassium levels, the additional nutrients supplied by the polyhalite (sulfur, magnesium, and calcium), and the gradual release of nutrients from polyhalite which avoids their loss by leaching.

The role of polyhalite extends to reducing reliance on synthetic fertilizers, thus promoting soil health and crop yields while contributing to environmental sustainability. Its adaptability makes it suitable for a wide range of soils and crops, with the added benefit of economic viability for farmers.

With the growing adoption of polyhalite, Dr. Gahlaut envisions a resilient and environmentally conscious agricultural sector. He sees polyhalite fertilizer as a holistic solution, nourishing crops and safeguarding the environment, propelling Indian agriculture toward a more sustainable and productive future. The commitment to this innovation underscores a broader ambition to cultivate a bountiful and eco-friendly agricultural landscape across India.