Soil Health Card Scheme
Under the integrated soil management initiative, the UPA Government in 2007-08 had launched a scheme to provide soil health card to farmers. However, that scheme did make little progress and in eight years (till 2013), only 50 Lakh soil health cards were released to the farmers. The scheme was freshly launched in 2015 by NDA Government to provide soil health cards to 14 crore farmers. However, this scheme has been mostly a flop show and unable to meet its targets due to several reasons including lack of field staff, absence of soil test labs etc. Currently, the scheme is lagging too much behind the target of distributing 14 crore soil cards and by March, 2017, the government has distributed only 6 crore cards. Since the scheme is being implemented by the State Governments; it indicates that states need to increase their manpower requirement and centre needs to provide adequate funding. The issue is that the soil testing labs are poorly managed and it takes lots of time for a farmer to get a soil health card after the sample was collected from his / her farm.
Need of Soil Health Card
The main reason is soil deterioration. Soil has not only deteriorated in many parts of the country but also has been tendered useless for irrigation. The main reasons for soil deterioration include mindless use of chemical fertilizers, low use of organic matter and non-replacement of depleted micro and secondary nutrients in the soil. Due to all these, the nutrient deficiencies and decrease in soil fertility made farming unproductive.
For example, green revolution demanded use of chemical fertilizers for increasing production. However, mindless use of fertilizers led the soil in many regions useless for farming. This is mainly because of unwise distortion of the ideal NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) proportion (4:2:1). For example, in 2011, the ratio was 19.2:5.5:1 and 20.6:6:1 respectively in Punjab and Haryana. The over-use of Urea is mainly because it comes with a government subsidy. Excessive use of Nitrogen reduces the health of crop and productivity goes down year after year.
Contents of the Soil Health Card
To boost productivity and bring about increased prosperity, it has become necessary to nurture the soil. Soil Health card is a report card that provides vital information about the quality of soil by giving comprehensive information about type of soil, nutrient content, fertilizer required, crop suitability to ambient temperature and rainfall condition. The ‘Soil Health Card’ would carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients / fertilizers required for farms in a particular village, so that the farmers can improve productivity by using inputs judiciously.
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