Soil Health Card (SHC)
Soil Health card (SHC) is a printed report card issued to farmers in once in three years indicating the status of his soil in terms of 12 parameters. It is also accompanied by an advice on the various fertilizers and other soil amendments he is suppose to make.
SHC is field-specific detailed report of soil fertility status and other important soil parameters that affect crop productivity. Details in a Soil Health Card includes
- Information regarding Soil Fertility
- Dosage of fertilizer application in crops.
- Information on soil amendments of saline or alkaline soil; and
- Recommendation on integrated nutrient management.
The 12 parameters tested are:
- pH (Soil Reaction; acidity / alkalinity of the soil)
- Total Dissolved salts
- Organic Carbon
The Test Results are shown with colour codes for ease of understanding.
Green= Sufficient (General Recommendation Dose (-) 30%)
Yellow= Moderate (General Recommendation Dose)
Red = deficient (General Recommendation Dose (+) 30%)
Violet = Acidic / Sodic (concentration of sodium or salt indicating salinity) /Alkaline
The issue of Soil Health Card was taken up in a mission mode format in February 2015. Every farmer in the country is proposed to be issued the SHC. 14 crore Soil Health Cards are envisaged to be issued over the next 3 years.
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. A great variability is observed in fertiliser consumption among States from 250 kg / hectare (ha) in Punjab, 212 kg / ha in Bihar, 207 kg / ha in Haryana to 4.8 kg / ha in Nagaland and 2 kg / ha in Arunachal Pradesh, during 2012-13. However, imbalanced application of fertilisers 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. Fertiliser 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. About 25-30% of the requirement of Urea, 90% of the requirement of Diammonium phosphate (DAP) and 100% of the requirement of Muriate of Potash (MOP) are met by imports. 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.
Soil testing programme started in India in the year 1955-56 with the setting up of 16 Soil Testing Laboratories (STLs) under "Determination of Soil Fertility and Fertilizer Use" programme. In 2012-13, the soil analyzing capacity in the country was 128.31 lakh soil samples per annum. The soil testing facility is provided by State Governments to the farmers free of cost or with some nominal fee. Government of India has been promoting integrated nutrient management (INM) i.e. balanced and judicious use of chemical fertilizers, along with bio fertilizers and locally available organic manures based on soil testing to maintain soil health and crop productivity. Soil Testing Programmes are also being implemented through National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
Quite a few states, including Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Haryana have been successfully distributing such cards. Tamil Nadu has started issuing soil health cards from the year 2006 onwards. There are 30 Soil Testing Laboratories (STLs) and 18 Mobile Soil Testing Laboratories functioning in the State.
According to a Press release dated 18 August 2014, up to March 2012, over 48 crore soil health cards have been issued to farmers. However, no uniform norms were followed in the country for soil analysis and distribution of such information before the issue of Soil Health Cards. Further, these initiatives were sporadic & random and therefore did not cover all the farmers within a particular time cycle. Through SHC Scheme, Centre plans to make this a pan India effort. Earlier Government of India has never provided any assistance to the State Governments to undertake collection of soil samples and their analysis.
The operational Guidelines of Soil Health Card Scheme may be seen here.
A web based system has been put in place in July 2015 to generate Soil Health Cards automatically based on either Soil Test-Crop Response (STCR) formulae developed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) or General Fertilizer Recommendations (GFR) provided by State Governments. It has a sample tracking feature and provides alerts to farmers about sample registration and generation of Soil Health Card through SMS and Email. The system envisages building up a single national database on soil health for future use in research and planning. The portals is funded under the centrally sponsored scheme, National e-governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGPA), which aims at development and implementation of ICT enabled projects for ensuring timely access to agriculture related information for the farmers of the country.
It has also been decided that 2,000 model retail outlets of Fertilizer companies will be provided with soil and seed testing facilities during the three years, beginning 2016.
As on 14.03.2017, 5.66 crore cards have been distributed to farmers. State-wise details may be seen in the press release dated 17 March 2017.
Like SHC, certain other related web based applications were launched in July 2015.
- The Fertilizer Quality Control System (FQCS) portal is for official use by the fertilizer quality control laboratories for testing samples of imported fertilizers. The FQCS application is for automation of most of the hitherto manual activities like drawing sample from the port, assignment of code numbers, sending the sample for testing to laboratories, decoding of the test report etc. and help in online tracking the status of the sample.
- The 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. This group certification system is supported by Paramaparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) scheme (Traditional Agricultural development Scheme). The certification system is made available in a web-portal :http://www.pgsindia-ncof.gov.
- Operational Guidelines regarding soil health card scheme
- Press Release of Ministry of Agriculture dated 15 July 2015
- Compendium on Soil Health -2012 for information regarding existing status of soil testing facilities State-wise and highlight main issues in soil testing programme