Steps taken by Govt to promote Soil Health and Judicious use of Fertilizers

Soil health needs to be assessed at regular intervals so as to ensure that farmers apply the required amount of nutrients to their crops. Accordingly, distribution of Soil Health Cards is a continuous & dynamic exercise carried out by the State Governments. Central Government provides assistance to State Governments for setting up Soil Testing Laboratories for issuing Soil Health Cards to farmers. State Governments have adopted innovative practices like involvement of agricultural students, NGOs and private sector in soil testing, determining average soil health of villages, etc., to issue Soil Health Cards.

Government has taken up Management of Soil Health & Fertility under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture to promote soil test based balanced and judicious use of fertilizers. The scheme provides assistance for setting up new static/mobile soil testing laboratories (STLs), strengthening of existing STLs, training of STL Staff/ extension officers/ farmers, field demonstrations on balanced use of fertilizers etc.

For judicious use of fertilisers, Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) advocates split application and placement of fertilisers, use of slow releasing N-fertilizers and nitrification inhibitors, growing leguminous crops and use of Resource Conservation Technologies. ICAR has developed technologies for preparation of enriched / vermi compost from various organic wastes, developed improved strains of biofertilisers specific to different crops and soil types, and prepared geo-referenced soil fertility maps of 171 districts which are useful in monitoring soil fertility and fertiliser recommendations for balanced nutrient application.

Government has launched Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) from 2014-15, wherein a component of integrated area expansion has been included for enabling farmers to take up area expansion activities along with drip irrigation. Assistance is also extended for creation of water resources that is community and individual tanks.

Apart from above, ICAR provides technology support for enhancing irrigation efficiency through laser levelling, optimal basin sizes and shift to micro irrigation techniques, optimal irrigation scheduling, augmenting water supplies through rain water harvesting for supplementary irrigation, etc.

This information was given today by Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan in a written reply to Rajya Sabha questions.