Soil Health Card Scheme focuses on : needs, objectives,access,benefits of this scheme in detail.
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Soil Health Card Scheme: Swasth Dhara,Khet Haraa
Soil Health Card (SHC) is a Government of India’s scheme promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. It is being implemented through the Department of Agriculture of all the State and Union Territory Governments. A SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments, that s/he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.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 crores farmers.
MORE ABOUT THE SCHEME:
Need of Soil Health Card:
The main reason for such scheme 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.
India Government recently launched Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme which would be providing to the farmers the assessment report of soil health and its needs based on scientific lab tests.
The objectives of this scheme are-
- To disburse 14 crores SHCs within 3 years.
- To provide crucial information regarding soil’s depleting health and nutrient composition. To provide information regarding corrective measures to be taken.
- Overall to increase agricultural production, boost farmers income. The significance of scheme are multiple:
- Assist farmer in supplying needed micro, macro and secondary nutrients to the soil through fertilizer mix up which at present is dominated by urea
- Will provide information based on different crops thus helping farmer select most appropriate crop pattern hence reducing risk of low productivity or crop failure.
- This scheme on combination with others like krishi sinchayi yojana, provided easy loans to farmers, better monsoon forecast could help the agriculture sector perform better.
However its significance depends on its steady and effective implementation which at present looks sluggish as many states have not even started taking soil samples for test like Arunanchal Pradesh, Sikkim while some has taken sample but slow in distributing the SHCs like Tamilnadu. Hence scheme needs boost in efforts.
Access to the usage of SHC:
The card will contain an advisory based on the soil nutrient status of a farmer’s holding. It will show recommendations on dosage of different nutrients needed. Further, it will advise the farmer on the fertilizers and their quantities he should apply, and also the soil amendments that he should undertake, so as to realize optimal yields.It will be made available once in a cycle of 3 years, which will indicate the status of soil health of a farmer’s holding for that particular period. The SHC given in the next cycle of 3 years will be able to record the changes in the soil health for that subsequent period.Soil samples will be drawn in a grid of 2.5 ha in irrigated area and 10 ha in rain- fed area with the help of GPS tools and revenue maps.Soil Samples will be collected by a trained person from a depth of 15-20 cm by cutting the soil in a “V” shape. It will be collected from four corners and the centre of the field and mixed thoroughly and a part of this picked up as a sample. Areas with shade will be avoided. The sample chosen will be bagged and coded. It will then be transferred to soil test laboratory for analysis.A sum of Rs. 190 per soil sample is provided to State Governments. This covers the cost of collection of soil sample, its test, generation and distribution of soil health card to the farmer.
For more details : visit the official site
Benefits of SHC:
- The existing Nitrogen – Phosphorous – Potassium (NPK) consumption ratio in the country is skewed at 8.2:3.2:1 (2012-13) as against the preferred ratio of 4:2:1.
- Imbalanced application of fertilizers have caused deficiency of primary nutrients (i.e. NPK), secondary nutrients (such as Sulphur), and micronutrients (boron, zinc, copper etc.), in most parts of country.
- SHC will ensure that farmers do not spend money unnecessarily on purchase of fertilizers by adding more than required.
- Once there is economy on the use of chemical fertilizers, the cost of production is expected to decrease.
- Promotion of integrated nutrient system is expected to reduce the consumption of chemical fertilizers by 20% thereby easing the fiscal strain on Government. Fertilizer sector accounts for a significant percentage of the total subsidies and power consumption in the country.
- India imports large quantity of various fertilizers to meet the demand — the soil test based fertilizer usage will reduce import bill and will also ensure higher yields per unit.
- Over a period of time SHC can determine changes in soil health that are affected by land management.
Like SHC, certain other related web based applications were launched in July 2015:
- Fertilizer Quality Control System — for official use by the fertilizer quality control laboratories for testing samples of imported fertilizers.
- Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS-India) — provides certification of organic products. It is an internationally applicable organic quality assurance system [like ISO 9000] regarding the process of production, based on verifiable trust. It is implemented and controlled by the committed organic farmer-producers along with the consumers.
“The overall impact of the scheme has been positive, leading to maximisation and sustainable growth at farm level by cost minimisation and through efficient utilisation of resources The study, however, noted gaps in manpower, both technical and non-technical staff, for collecting soil samples and thereafter testing them in labs.
The NPC suggested that the field staff be provided the honorarium for collection of soil samples and distribution of cards in time. The honorarium for collection of soil samples may be increased from ₹10 to ₹25 per sample.
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,paving ways towards fulfillment of SDGs.