Karanja cake, also known as pongamia cake, is a byproduct obtained from the seeds of the karanja (Pongamia pinnata) tree. It is commonly used as an organic fertilizer and soil amendment to promote plant growth. Here's how karanja cake can help plants grow:
Nutrient Content: Karanja cake is rich in essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), along with other secondary and micronutrients. These nutrients are crucial for plant growth and development. Nitrogen promotes leafy growth, phosphorus supports root development and flowering, and potassium enhances overall plant health and disease resistance.
Slow-Release Nutrients: One of the benefits of using karanja cake is that it releases nutrients slowly over time. This slow-release characteristic ensures a steady supply of nutrients to plants, preventing nutrient imbalances and reducing the risk of nutrient leaching, which can happen with synthetic fertilizers.
Soil Improvement: Karanja cake also acts as a soil conditioner. It improves soil structure, water retention, and drainage. The organic matter in the cake helps improve soil's ability to hold water and nutrients, making them more available to plants.
Microbial Activity: Organic materials like karanja cake encourage beneficial microbial activity in the soil. Microorganisms break down the organic matter in the cake, releasing nutrients in forms that plants can absorb. This enhances nutrient availability and contributes to soil health.
Pest and Disease Suppression: Some compounds present in karanja cake, such as karanjin and pongamol, have insecticidal and fungicidal properties. Using karanja cake as a soil amendment can contribute to reducing certain pest and disease issues, acting as a natural form of plant protection.
Environmental Benefits: Organic fertilizers like karanja cake are more environmentally friendly compared to synthetic fertilizers. They have lower chances of causing soil and water pollution and contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices.
When using karanja cake, it's important to consider a few factors:
- Application Rates:
- CONTAINER:. 0.5- 1.5% of total soil. Use sparingly because the plant hormones it contains can have adverse affects if overapplied.
- FIELD: 150–450 pounds per acre, or 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per 100 square feet.
- Compatibility: While karanja cake can benefit most plants, it's important to be aware of any potential adverse interactions with certain plants or other soil amendments. It works particularly well with neem commonly used as a 50/50 mix.
- Decomposition: Karanja cake takes time to break down and release its nutrients. It's best applied well in advance of planting to allow it to integrate with the soil. Integrating with compost and organic applications will aid in the incorporation of soils.