17 October, 2021

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The Fertilizer Debate Nearing Conclusion?

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda

To me, the ongoing discourse, stimulated by a reckless decision to ban the import of all non-organic agro-chemicals with “immediate effect” could be considered healthy, Unfortunately, the “Vasa visa nethi krushikarma” folks, on whose advice the President perhaps made this dramatic move, have chosen to remain silent. The issue has now less to do with science and more with political tones.

It is not fair to expect the President to be knowledgeable about every matter that seems to require his stamp of authority, for anything to happen. Rather, also by an unfortunate statement, where he declared that the word of the President is sufficient authority to act, being superior to any “circular”.

Our President reportedly declared at the UN General Assembly in New York, that Sri Lanka aims to be the First Country to go “Totally organic”. Since it is likely that the President’s address would have been composed or at least “vetted” before its delivery It is clear that The President should review the competence of those who accompanied him to New York, or are cozying around him here.

It would also be unwise to seek the advice of prelates in Parliament, Trade Unions, or even Mahanayaka positions, for advice on technical matters, as much as to be advised by agricultural chemists, Pediatricians, or “Professors” of doubted provenance, on spiritual matters. Is the 20th Amendment with heavy responsibilities and authoritarian features bestowed on Presidents when in office, the root cause? The whole fertilizer story is now a matter of hurt egos or of political sensitivity, than a purely technical one.

I was stunned the other day to hear our Minister of Agriculture declaring (in a kind of ‘repair job’) that the intention of the recent exceptions to the ban, was not a reversal of the “Ban situation,“ but only a concession, in a special case. It was to apply, he said “ only to import of “Liquid Nitrogen”, because it was cheaper than other forms of “fertilizer nitrogen”. In conventional chemistry, nitrogen gas becomes liquid at about minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Absolute zero is some minus 293 degrees Fahrenheit and is the lowest Temperature achievable! It is impossible to imagine a paddy farmer in Kahatagasdigiliya or Horowupotana, having facilities to handle “liquid nitrogen“. To be charitable the Minister perhaps had in mind, preparations like “Hyponex”or “Maxicrop”, While being appalled by this degree of understanding in one who is supposed to help in managing our affairs as implied in the word “Deshapalanaya” (meaning roughly as “Managing the nation”), can be entrusted with taking decisions affecting our futures and of those yet to be born. It will be perilous that those so seriously “intellectually challenged” are custodians of our very existence and of those yet to be born!

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  • 3
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    “Our President reportedly declared at the UN General Assembly in New York, that Sri Lanka aims to be the First Country to go “Totally organic”. “
    We should not forget that an earlier President “banned” internet porn with similarly predictable results:
    https://beta.dawn.com/news/314835/pornographic-websites-banned-in-sri-lanka.
    The ignorance of our current leaders and their advisers is unbelievable. Obviously , being “98% literate” does not mean the same thing as being “98% educated”.

    • 2
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      They have failed in price control of daily essentials, incl. rice, sugar and milk power, letlone them to go for crucial issue such as switch on to organic fertilizer.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGdhOvHFMmU

      Not even Germany and France have failed to go for 100% free from fertilizers (chemical fertilizer) yet today.
      .
      How can we as another begging nation go for it, amidst thousands of other alarming issues. People have nothing to eat today. Middle class people are becoming to fall from their levels to the destitute due to COVID restrictions. No tourism at all, and no hope that it would be better in the days to come…. with this being the reality, it is not a wise decisions stupid leaders to go for ” greener” by switching on to manures from fertilizers. ……. these men in leadership should be eating PUNNAKKU 3 times or more a day.

  • 3
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    “While being appalled by this degree of understanding in one who is supposed to help in managing our affairs as implied in the word “Deshapalanaya” (meaning roughly as “Managing the nation”), can be entrusted with taking decisions affecting our futures and of those yet to be born. It will be perilous that those so seriously “intellectually challenged” are custodians of our very existence and of those yet to be born!“

    The above is a fact. Time is running fast. Time for people to wake up from the deepest slumber and get people with Real Brains to take charge of the country. We don’t want morons to run our country neither do we want the stupid Professors + Monks+Racists who are behind these morons

  • 0
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    I have not heard that raw liquid nitrogen can be used in farmland. These all are the usual Appe Aanduwas’ Sinhala Buddhist Viyathmaha Modayas’ games of fooling Sinhala Buddhist layman Modayas. The Hunu coming on the ship that left China is identified as a highly infectious and toxic substance. In addition to the FEX crisis, China exported the C-19 crisis, internal productivity collapsed, and now new Hunu imports that cause disease to plants and animals is a serious development. This fertilizer ban is only about letting Lankawe have a free lab to test China Hunu. This Hunu is going to cause damage to the Lankawe environment many times worse than customary fertilizers can do.

  • 0
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    As a remedy to this, the first act Aanduwa played was, the day before yesterday Mahindanada revealed that China will not allow Lankawe to reject the Hunu load it is shipping. Yesterday I read scene 2 that the King had asked Valaiththodam if he really rejects the Hunu. No.3, today I read another news article that, 6 months after the law passed, SJB has filed a fundamental right petition against Fertilizer ban. Whether the case will win or lose is not based on what will be the effect on the future of Lankawe or to the presidential authority, but how much China can be fooled by that verdict. China knows too well about Appe’s rulers and oppositions’ joint games. If China sends a submarine to berth in Galle, Lankawe will assign another harbor to China. That will be the end of the Aanduwa’s and opposition’s joint drama. Still 6.9 Modayas are certified that as they never will get it, in the last election.

  • 3
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    Upatissa Pethiyagoda ,

    “Absolute zero is some minus 293 degrees Fahrenheit and is the lowest Temperature achievable!”

    The lowest temperature achievable is: – 459.7 degrees Fahrenheit instead, which is lower than – 320 degrees.

    • 0
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      Thiru,
      probably they want liquid nitrogen to freeze the seeds and the farmer to ensure that they save the money and make them available in another generation or ‘Avatar’ of the R Bros Inc., module!
      They will any crap and believe all this nonsense as most of these voters are uneducated.
      They will hardly learn a lesson or recalibrate to mitigate the bad effects!

  • 2
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    Somebody told me about pure nitrogen being used to inflate tyres. I checked.
    .
    This use is for highly specialised racing cars, and so forth because it is inert.
    .
    We all know that the atmosphere is more than 80% nitrogen. So one pumps air into one’s tyres. Theoretically, not having oxygen and those minute quantities of carbon dioxide and water vapour may prevent degradation of the rubber and metal that go into the making of the tyre, but only lunatics would then try to put pure nitrogen into the tyre.
    .
    This sort of talk ought to land people in asylums. Instead we reward with handing over governance of the country to these lunatics.
    .
    Dr Pethiyagoda, you’re being far too restrained in your article.

    • 1
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      Part 1 (To be Continued)
      SM,
      “Somebody told me about pure nitrogen being used to inflate tyres.”
      This is correct and specially, more than racing cars in tyres of earth moving and tunneling equipment, using mammoth size tyres for providing floatation in soft underground situations.
      The tyres are quite large and as such the rubber surface area is enormous exposure to the filled in gases.
      Add to this the Rubber in the tyre from time immemorial has been black, which i do not know the reason, perhaps i could find out, though i do not know it now.
      The rubber in natural form is ‘off white’ in colour. To make it Black in colour the addition is commonly Carbon black – Chief constituent is Carbon. Chemical C.
      Now carbon has a very good affinity to combine with Oxygen when exposed to it. So you may now see the effect in the air inflated tyre chamber with C and Oxygen which is almost 3/5 (Approx.) constituent to form Company and/or CO2!! Cause – Natural attrition. No external factors.
      It is innovation after a long time for a need so long felt.

    • 3
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      S.M,
      It is “herd mentality” that makes otherwise sane drivers inflate their tyres with Nitrogen. It’s the same mentality that elected these idiots into power.

    • 3
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      http://www.tirehaus.ca/nitrogen-myths/

      This would be useful for everyone’s read/listen

  • 1
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    Part 2 (Continued)
    This has deteriorating effects,
    1. Tyre pressure progressively goes down, impairing performance and rapid wear of tread
    2. Downtime to check tyre pressure regularly (short intervals, may be daily os such tyres)
    3. Additional ancillary equipment – air inflators within easy accessibility.
    4. Additional tyre and related operating costs
    5. High tyre replacement costs avoided.
    6. Productivity increases
    Nitrogen inflation ensured almost nil pressure loss over long periods of time specially a lapse of I week, which is a great saving, given the above savings.
    We have these for cars and bikes too and very good and convenient.
    I have been using Nitrogen filling on tyre changes at an extra cost, and I have to only check my pressure every couple of months, mostly deflation is due to pin holes or punctures and not by oxidation. No more weekly visit to the gas station to check and fill air, as most of the time they are broken or not accurate! Some of my tyres have never been removed between tyre changes at ‘end of life’
    Do hope you change over and realise the advantage.

    • 3
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      Thanks, Mahila.
      .
      Since they’re the tyres of your own vehicles, I’m sure that you must have made a calculation of the cost effectiveness of filling your tyres with nitrogen.
      .
      The justification that you’ve given for it is rational, and I hope that my acceptance of your reasoning is also in keeping with reason. Refinements of this sort are what lead to improvements.
      .
      There are some blogs dealing with the pros and cons of filling with nitrogen. This is a balanced guide:
      .
      https://www.continental-tyres.co.uk/car/all-about-tyres/tyre-care-maintenance/tyre-pressure/nitrogen-in-tyres
      .
      It may be that you have a convenient garage close to where you live, and I appreciate your enlightening comments.
      .
      Other comments, and my own checking on the web, indicate a certain amount of confusion regarding the temperature at which nitrogen becomes liquid – caused probably by unnecessarily having two scales (Celsius and Fahrenheit) for measuring temperature. Straightforward enough, but let others handle it.

  • 0
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    All this is because one joker academic from Sabaragamuwa university who is also a viyathmaga member mislead the president to believe that organic agriculture is a reality. Another supporter of this move from Wyamba university is now secy to agriculture ministry. These people promote this stupid view of organic agriculture and the whole country will face a massive loss in agricultural productivity and famine. 107 academics from University agriculture faculties wrote to the president to stop this ban on fertiliser exports. The soil science society of Sri Lanka too wrote to the president but he would not listen. We have arrogant rulers who cannot feel the pulse of ordinary people or the voice of real academics but continue to listen to bogus academics who have no expert knowledge.

  • 0
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    I typed “Concept Globe” in my Google. “concept globe limited Zambia” was the closest match I got. Concept Zambia is a tech company that writes software. That is not what I was looking for. After Harsha’s talk started to show up that a Rajagriya company is authorized by cabinet to receive 7% interest to a $2B loan given to Royal Aanduwa, I was trying to Check who is this-Finance-Banking company in Lankawe while commercial Banks have no exchange, but this is capable of lending $2B just like that, without any published, prolonged, negotiations with it so far. For a long time, it was public information. While CB had stopped supplying FEX to Banks, private lenders were supplying Exchange at a high rate to importers. This created a suspicion that if this the latest blockbuster, that Royal are making their Blacks into Whites, using Lankawe’s severe shortage of FEX.

  • 0
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    Harsha who opened the Pandora Box didn’t talk about those details. Bottom line is a simple, a search with Google does not bring up a financier capable of lending $2B with the name of Concept Globe. Royals $18B was protected by Yahapalanaya heads like Harsha, Mangala & Ranil, during their time in the government. How Harsha breaks up with his colleagues and tells the truth to the public. Harsha too was a Yahapalanaya partner in the cabinet decision to maintain the secret of the 4/21 bombing. Now he is no longer showing any loyalty for this partner as Ranil is made zero by voters and Mangala dies. Their resolve to save the $18B of Royals seems to be gone with the wind.

  • 2
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    In many ways, Maithri as President was terrible.

    .
    However, in certain senses, My3 was a decent man, and he could empathise with with honest village farmers. He speaks here with understanding.
    .
    https://www.newsfirst.lk/2021/10/10/worst-agricultural-tragedy-happening-now-says-maithri/

  • 1
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    “In conventional chemistry, nitrogen gas becomes liquid at about minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Absolute zero is some minus 293 degrees Fahrenheit and is the lowest Temperature achievable!”
    *
    A result of Celsius-Fahrenheit confusion.
    Absolute zero is -273.15°C or -459.67°F.
    At normal atmospheric pressure, nitrogen is a liquid between -210°C and -196°C (-346°F and -320.44°F).

  • 0
    0

    “In conventional chemistry, nitrogen gas becomes liquid at about minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Absolute zero is some minus 293 degrees Fahrenheit and is the lowest Temperature achievable!”
    *
    A result of Celsius-Fahrenheit confusion.
    Absolute zero is -273.15°C or -459.67°F.
    At normal atmospheric pressure, nitrogen is a liquid between -210°C and -196°C (-346°F and -320.4°F).

  • 0
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    Hurrah! On this page, for once, all are speaking rationally – including Mahila, who is open to reason and even offered to find out why tyres are black, because he doesn’t know. How often do you have our countrymen acknowledging that they don’t know something? Most of us others have said that we’ll stick to inflation with air resigning ourselves to tyres having to wear out up-to 2021 AD.
    .
    Professor of Mechanical Engineering, SJ has given us absolute zero on both scales down to two decimal points – I remember being taught at that it was minus 273 Celsius. No problem with Upatissa’s typo, his article speaks sense. “Liquid nitrogen” would depend on pressure as well. What happens to it below minus 210 degrees Centigrade? Becomes solid? All that hardly matters because these are not conditions that can be created outside highly specialised laboratories. And this arrant nonsense is what Gota expects our farmers to tolerate!
    .
    But there is 78% nitrogen in the air that surrounds me, and that I’m breathing in. So, plants need nitrogen, do they? Why not arraign them before our Supreme Court and order all plants to obtain their nitrogen from the atmosphere?

    • 1
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      S.M,
      Plants do absorb Nitrogen from the air. Lightning produces Nitric acid which falls to earth. Google “Nitrogen cycle”.
      But then, one can’t expect our President or his ministers to know that.

  • 0
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    To get serious about this, Gota has now, incredibly, appointed a committee to persuade our flora (plants) to accept liquid nitrogen. The committee won’t “work” for free.
    .
    https://economynext.com/sri-lanka-to-may-allow-liquid-nitrogen-fertilizer-for-tea-minister-86932/
    .
    I must confess that when I see an article with even the title having mistakes in grammar – “to may allow” – I get prejudiced against it.
    .
    The grammar mistakes continue, and also the preposterous content. I’m sure that I don’t have to analyse that, but how are we going to stop this nonsense?
    .

    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

    • 2
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      S.M,
      What’s incredible about this? It’s the sort of thing you should expect from him. Just yesterday he ordered the Cabinet to find out why prices are going up, when he himself removed price controls the previous day! Now he swears he will not raise the price of fuel. Are we to take the guy seriously?

  • 0
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    Dear Dr Upathissa Pethiyagoda,
    .
    This was a timely and well-thought out article
    ; unfortunate that there was some tripping up on the question of Celsius and Fahrenheit scales. I’m sorry that I veered it off into nitrogen for the filling of tyres, but at least in that area what we all wrote was comprehensible.
    .
    As old codger says, with Gota we are in a land where absurdity prevails, and it’s good you highlighted that. I don’t know you at all, but when you discuss social problems you flounder. In your most recent article,
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-depth-of-disappointment/
    .
    you speak of the need for a “Third Force”, but you don’t name it. From what you say later, it looks as though you mean the “Officers and Gentlemen” of the Armed Forces. This is ridiculous! The only group that is acting responsibly at the moment is the NPP. It’s core element is the JVP. In my view, that was a dangerous lot who seemed to be motivated purely by hatred of the “Upper Classes.”

    True such people often cannot conduct themselves with decorum and often are guilty of outrageous conduct. How should we counter that? Was this really your answer?

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-pathology-of-ragging/

  • 0
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    Why am I not making this comment below your more recent article? Because I don’t want to pour scorn on you. I’m sure that you’re perfectly honest and upright, but the views that you espouse could do immense harm in encouraging a derision of those plebeians who who are trying to act better than their group. The JVP of 1971, and those who emerged after JR pardoned them some time after 1977 may have been in some ways difficult for us to get on with, but they were trying.
    As the NPP see how they have nominated Dr Harini Amarasurya to Parliament.
    .
    The raggers were a different lot; and I hated them and their doings. It’s a bit difficult to find perfect answers, but please try not to ridicule.
    .
    You seem to be so hopelessly right-wing in your thinking that you have no use for thee vast majority of our people, (who are criminally ignorant of English) and you cannot be bothered to find a way out for them. If you go back to that ragging article, don’t you see that – and I do know some English.

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