MPPSC Prelims Exam(Q&A) – What are Soil Health Cards?

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What are Soil Health Cards?

Soil Health Card Scheme is a scheme launched by the Government of India on 19 February 2015. Under the scheme, the government plans to issue soil cards to farmers, which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers required for the individual farms to help farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs. All soil samples are to be tested in various soil testing labs across the country. Thereafter the experts will analyze the strength and weaknesses (micro-nutrients deficiency) of the soil and suggest measures to deal with it. The result and suggestions will be displayed on the cards.

The government plans to issue the cards to 14 crore farmers. It is been implemented through the Department of Agriculture, for all the States and Union Territory Government. A Soil Health Card (SHC) is men tot give each farmer soil nutrient status of his / her holding and advise him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed the soil amendments, That he/she should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.

SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings. It will contain the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely N, P, K (Macro Nutrients); S (Secondary Nutrient); Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micro Nutrients); and pH, EC, OC (Physical parameters). Based on these parameters the SHC will also indicate fertilizer recommendations and soil amendment required for the farm.

This card will contain an advisory based on the soil nutrient status of the farmers holding. It will show recommendations or dosage of the different nutrients needed. Further, it will advise the farmers on the fertilizers and the quantity he should apply, and also the soil amendments that should undertake, so as to realize optimal yields.

Scheme

The scheme aims at promoting soil test based and balanced use of fertilizers to enable farmers to realize higher yields at a lower cost. Also, the main objective is to make the growers aware of the appropriate amount of nutrients for the concerned crop depending on the quality of the soil.

Budget

A number of rupees 568 crores (US$82 million) were allocated by the government for this scheme. In the 2016 Union budget of India, rupees 100 crores (US$14 million) has been allocated to states for making soil health cards and set up laboratories in their particular areas.

Performance

As of July 2015, only 34 lakh Soil Health Cards (SHC) was issued to farmers as against a target of 84 lakh for the year 2015–16. Arunachal PradeshGoaGujaratHaryanaKerala, MizoramSikkimTamil NaduUttarakhand, and West Bengal were among the states which had not issued a single SHC under the scheme by then. The number grew up to 1.12 crores by February 2016. As of February 2016, against the target of 104 lakh soil samples, States reported a collection of 81 lakh soil samples and tested 52 lakh samples. As of 16th May 2017, 725 lakh Soil Health Cards have been distributed to the farmers.

The FAQ Related to Soil Health Card

How will the quality of the soil sample test be ensured?

The State Government will refer 1% of all the samples in a year to a ‘Referral Laboratory’ to analyze and certify on the results of Primary Laboratory. The State Government will be supported to establish ‘Referral Laboratories as required.

What is the payment per sample?

 A sum of Rs. 190 per soil sample is provided to State Governments. This covers the cost of collection of the soil sample, its test, generation and distribution of soil health card to the farmer.

What is the total outlay of the scheme? Has the scheme been rolled out?

The total outlay of the scheme is Rs. 568.54 crore for a period of 3 years. The scheme has been rolled out in the field during the current year i.e, 2015-16.

How many soil samples will be tested in three years to generate Soil Health Cards?

As per the grid pattern adopted by the Ministry, 253 lakh soil samples will be tested every three years to generate approximately 14 crore Soil Health Cards.

 Is there any software for the generation of uniform soil health cards across the country?

Yes, National Informatics Center (NIC) has developed a web portal (www.soilhealth.dac.gov.in) for the generation of uniform soil health card and fertilizer recommendation, which has four modules:

  1. Registration of Soil Samples.
  2. Testing of Samples in the Soil Testing laboratory.
  3.  Fertilizer recommendation based on Soil Test Crop Response (STCR) equations.
  4. MIS Reports.

Which Division in the Ministry of Agriculture will guide the State Governments regarding the implementation of the scheme?

Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) Division; Department of Agriculture & Cooperation will visit the States regularly and provide guidance in technical matters.

 The contact details for the concerned Central and State Government Officials?

Central Government: Additional Commissioner (INM), Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture, DAC, Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi,

Telefax – 011  – 23384280, Email – dwivediv@nic.in

State Government: The concerned State Director of Agriculture/ District Agriculture Officer.

One can visit  www.soilhealth.dac.gov.in  or  http://www.agricoop.nic.in for information on Soil Health Card Scheme.

What is Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme?

It is the Government of India’s scheme promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture.  It will be implemented through the Department of Agriculture of all the State and Union Territory Governments.  An SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his holding and advise him on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments, that he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.

What is a Soil Health Card?

SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.  It will contain the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely N, P, K (Macro-nutrients); S (Secondary- nutrient); Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micronutrients); and pH, EC, OC (Physical parameters).  Based on this, the SHC will also indicate fertilizer recommendations and soil amendments required for the farm.

How can a farmer use an SHC?

The card will contain an advisory based on the soil nutrient status of a farmer’s holding. It will show recommendations on the 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.

Will the farmer get a card every year and for every crop?

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.

What are the norms of sampling?

Soil samples will be drawn in a grid of 2.5 ha in irrigated area and 10 ha in rainfed area with the help of GPS tools and revenue maps.

Who will draw the soil sample?

The State Government will collect samples through the staff of their Department of Agriculture or through the staff of an outsourced agency. The State Government may also involve the students of local Agriculture / Science Colleges.

What is the ideal time for soil sampling?

Soil Samples are taken generally two times in a year, after harvesting of Rabi and Kharif Crop respectively or when there is no standing crop in the field.

How will soil samples be collected from a farmer’s field?

A trained person will collect soil samples from a depth of 15-20 cm by cutting the soil in a “V” shape. It will be collected from four corners and the center 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 the soil test laboratory for analysis.

What is a soil test laboratory?

It is a facility for testing the soil sample for 12 parameters as indicated in reply to question number 2.  This facility can be static or mobile or it can even be portable to be used in remote areas.

Who and Where will the soil sample be tested?

The soil sample will be tested as per the approved standards for all the agreed 12 parameters in the following way:

  1. At the STLs owned by the Department of Agriculture and by their own staff.
  2. At the STLs owned by the Department of Agriculture but by the staff of the outsourced agency.
  3.  At the STLs owned by the outsourced agency and by their staff.
  4.  At ICAR Institutions including KVKs and SAUs.
  5. At the laboratories of the Science Colleges/Universities by the students under the supervision of a Professor/ Scientist.

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