By Nirendra Dev
Deteriorating soil health has been a cause of concern and that has been leading to sub optimal utilization of farming resources. Imbalanced use of fertilisers, low addition of organic matter and non-replacement of depleted micro and secondary nutrients over the years, has resulted in nutrient deficiencies and decrease in soil fertility in some parts of the country.
Launched by the central government in February 2015, the Soil Health Card Scheme is tailor-made to issue ‘Soil card’ to farmers which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers required for the individual farms. This is aimed to help farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs.
From 2003-04, Gujarat has been the first state to introduce Soil Health cards, according to government sources, to initiate the scientific measures for Soil Health care. To start with, the agriculture income of Gujarat from Rs 14000 crore in 2000-01 had gone up to staggeringly high Rs 80,000 crore in 2010-11.
The Soil Health Card is a printed report that will be given to farmers once in three years for each of his/her land holding. It will contain crucial information on macro nutrients in the soil, secondary nutrients, micro nutrients, and physical parameters. The card will be accompanied by an advisory on the corrective measures that a farmer should take to improved soil health and obtain a better yield.
Farmers would understand the fertility factor of the land better and can be attracted towards value added newer crops. This would help reduction in risk in farming and also the cost of overall cultivation process would get reduced.
The official sources in the Agriculture ministry say that the Soil Health Card portal aims to generate and issue Soil Health Cards based on either Soil Test-Crop Response (STCR) formulae developed by ICAR or General Fertilizer Recommendations provided by state Governments.
The scheme has been approved for implementation during 12th Plan with an outlay of Rs.568.54 crore. For 2015-16, an allocation of Rs.96.46 crore – only for the central government share-has been made. The scheme is to be otherwise implemented on 50:50 sharing pattern between Government of India and state Governments.