Merapi eruptions occurred more than one year ago. However, many problems are still found after the eruption, one of which is related to agricultural land. Seeing the condition, UGM Faculty of Animal Science seeks to do research and study on the opportunities and potential, including to build a pilot agricultural land or land that is used as demonstration plots.
Bambang Suwignyo, S.Pt., MP, Ph.D., team coordinator of the Laboratory of Food, Forage and Pastures, Faculty of Animal Sciences, said that the recovery program was initiated following the sandy land development in coastal areas of Congot Beach in Kulonprogo regency that is handled by a team of the Faculty of Animal Sciences. The sandy land there and the land near Merapi are considered to have a physical resemblance. "Currently, Faculty of Animal Sciences’ team together with local NGOs, community and students are making demonstration plots to meet the challenges given by the public as to whether the sandy land can be used as agricultural land," he explained recently.
Bambang explained that the demonstration plots are made in two areas on the lands that were affected by pyroclastic material and lava of Merapi. A number of plants are grown in the demonstration plots, including corn, peanut and elephant grass. In practice, most of the land is given manure and compost, while land with no fertilizer is established to control.
Bambang said temporary observation showed that the average growth of peanut seeds on land that was given fertilizer ranges between 60-70% in the first week since the planting of seeds with control ranges from 15-25%. The corn seeds - either with fertilizer or not - have mostly equal growth that is between 60-70%. The observation will be continued for the second week and later. "Hopefully, in the second week the seeds grow by 80% or more as an early indicator of the percentage of normal grain growth as in common land," he said.
Bambang said further that the Faculty of Animal Sciences team with local NGO have committed assistance to the people who live in shelters in Kepuharjo village since November 2011. The community generally is the owner of agricultural land in the area around Gendol River. They are still not working on the land which has been exposed to eruption due to unavailability of funds for land cultivation and wrong timing.
"The main issue is that people are still unsure whether the land can be used for agriculture again as before the eruption. In addition, people prefer to sell the sand that will surely provide income. We hope through this demonstration we can convince the public that the land is still potential to be used as agricultural land," he explained.