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Agricultural Chemistry

Plant Nutrition


The role of fertilizers in maintaining a high level of sugar cane production cannot be overemphasized.  However in the face of the rapid rise in prices of synthetic fertilizers and its impact on cost of sugar cane production, and with the coming into force of more stringent legislation to protect the environment, sound soil fertility management systems that will ensure the long term profitability as well as environmental sustainability of the sugar cane industry must be developed.

One major thrust of the Department’s research and development program is the improvement of fertilizer N use efficiency, predicting N mineralization potential of soils and the search for alternative sources of nutrients to sugar cane with a view to lessening the dependence on synthetic fertilizers and reducing production costs.  To attain these objectives, research projects being undertaken by the Agricultural Chemistry Department include:


  • Urea as a N source and gaseous losses of N from sugar cane fields
  • Scope of using controlled release fertilizers (CRF) to satisfy the N requirements of sugar cane
  • Studies on N dynamics in soils to predict N supply to sugar cane
  • Assessment of the N replacement concept in N nutrition of sugar cane
  • Use of Concentrated Molasses Stillage (CMS) enriched with N and P as a source of nutrients to sugar cane

CMS a nutrient sources to sugar cane 


  • Monitoring of S, Ca, Mg & trace element status of sugar cane
  • Green manuring of sugar cane

LGM contributes N to sugar cane


  • Development of an Integrated Cropping System for sugar cane in Mauritius
  • Identification of methods for measuring biologically active pools of soil organic carbon


Environment Protection

The movement of P from agricultural soils by runoff or erosion has become a cause of concern on account of its role as the primary agent controlling freshwater eutrophication. In this context, the Agricultural Chemistry Department is committed to undertake research in order to develop better P management strategies for sugar cane in Mauritius.  Moreover, the impacts of large scale application of ash and vinasse on sugar cane land and on the mobility of heavy metals and organic pollutants to contaminate ground water sources are being investigated.  To address these objectives, the following research projects are undertaken:



  • Development of soil P tests to provide critical soil P levels for environmental risk assessment and agronomic sufficiency
  • Establish criteria for assessment of fields vulnerability to erosion and surface runoff
  • Disposal of bagasse, coal ash and vinasse on sugar cane soils
  • Effects of leachates from the applied ash and vinasse on groundwater quality

    Disposal of ash on sugar cane soils               


Accreditation of Laboratories

With globalization calling for the removal of technical barriers to trade, laboratories are required to provide an assurance of their technical proficiency and competence in testing and analysis.  To this effect, the Agricultural Chemistry, Plant Pathology and Biotechnology laboratories of the MSIRI operate a quality management system in compliance with ISO/IEC 17025. The range of tests covers chemical and microbiological fields.

Chemical tests within the scope of accreditation offered by Agricultural Chemistry Department are:

  1. Analysis of pH of water, soil and sugars
  2. Determination of electrical conductivity and salinity of water
  3. Quantitative estimation of total N, mineral N and acid total P and K in soils
  4. Determination of N, P,K, S, Ca and Mg in plant materials
  5. Quantification of organochlorine pesticides, organophosphate pesticides, triazines and phenylureas in water, sugars and molasses



In addition, a wide range of consultancy services are provided.  



Mr Gunshiam Umrit

Research Officer

Email: gunshiam.umrit@msiri.mu

Tel: 454-1061

Fax: 454-1971