The International year of soils was celebrated in 2015 the same year India’s unique programme of soil health card was launched on February 19 to assess the nutrient status of every farm holding in the country. The objectives of the Soil Health Card scheme are to issue soil health cards to farmers every 2 years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in fertilization practices. Soil testing is developed to promote soil test based on nutrient management. Soil testing reduces cultivation cost by application of the right quantity of fertilizer. It ensures additional income to farmers by an increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming.
Soil Health Card Scheme was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 19.02.2015 at Suratgarh, Rajasthan. The scheme has been introduced to assist State Governments to issue soil health cards to all farmers in the country. Soil health card provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.
Financial Progress of Soil Health Card Scheme:
(Rs in crore)
From 2015 to 2017, in Cycle 1,10.74 crore soil health cards were distributed to farmers. In Cycle-II (2017-19),11.69crore soil health cards have been distributed to farmers across the country.
Establishment of Soil Testing Labs: So far 429 New Static Soil Testing Labs (STLs), 102 New Mobile STLs, 8752 Mini STLs have been provided. Village level soil testing facilities(VLSTLS) by agri-entrepreneurs have also been promoted and so far 1562 VLSTLs have been sanctioned and strengthening of 800 existing STLs have been sanctioned to States/UTs under the scheme. Thus the soil analyzing capacity has increased from 1.78 to 3.33 crore soil samples per annum in short period of 5 years.
Soil Health Card provides two sets of fertilizer recommendations for six crops including recommendations of organic manures. Farmers can also get recommendations for additional crops on demand. They can also print the card as their own from SHC portal. SHC portal has farmers database of both the cycles and is available in 21 languages for the benefit of the farmers.
Organization of demonstrations, trainings and farmer melas: So far 5.50 lakh demonstrations on SHC recommendation, 8898 farmer’s trainings and 7425 farmer’s melas have been sanctioned to States/UTs under the scheme.
During 2019-20, a pilot project ‘Development of Model Villages’ has been undertaken up where soil samples collection has been done at individual farm holding with farmer’s participation instead of sample collection at grids.Under the pilot project, one village per block is adopted for land holding based soil sampling, testing and organization of larger number of demonstrations up to a maximum number of 50 demonstrations (1 ha each) for each adopted village. This will result in acceptance of Soil Health Card by farmers.
So far 6954 villages have been identified by the States/UTs in which against the target of 26.83 lakh samples, 20.18 lakh samples have been collected, 14.65 lakh samples have been analyzed and 13.54 lakh cards have been distributed to farmers. Apart from this 246968 demonstrations and 6951 farmer melas have been approved for States/UTs.
Awareness among farmers is being stepped up by coordinated efforts of Departments of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Fertilisers backed by technology and network of KrishiVigyanKendras of Indian Council of Agriculture Research. Farmer can track their samples, print their Cardsetc at Common Service Centres also at the Farmers Corner of www.soilhealth.gov.in and fulfil the mantra of SwasthaDhara to Khet Hara (if the soil is healthy, the fields will be green).