Farmers and agricultural sector are the important part of our day to day life. As we know, government’s are implementing various schemes for upliftment of farmers and agricultural sector. Soil Health Card is a unique scheme of Government of India for helping farmers for getting maximum yield from their land. Soil Health Card scheme is introduced by Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare Department of Central Government. The tagline of Soil Health Card scheme are “Healthy soils for a Healthy Life”. Central Government are launched dedicated portal which is available on 21 languages to implement Soil Health Card Scheme across India. The long-term aim of Soil Health Card scheme is to increase agricultural production of the country along with improved soil quality. According to official statistics, 11.9 crores of Soil Health Cards are allotted in cycle two of Soil Health Card scheme. More than 90% of farmers of India are registered and availed benefits of Soil Health Card till now.
About Soil Health Card Scheme:
Soil Health Card scheme is introduced on 5th December 2015 to enhance productivity of agriculture sector. This project are still running in majority of states with the help of state agricultural departments. As per the scheme name implies, the project is introduced by aiming check health of soil of agricultural lands. The experts will check and analyze sample of soils of farm lands and prepare a report of the soil by including scientific recommendations. Best crops giving maximum yield on that soil and best fertilizer for soil are also mentioned on each reports. The farmer can follow that report from next season to produce maximum yield from their agricultural fields.
Soil Health Card is announced on 19th February of 2015 by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India at Suratgarh, Rajasthan. But, Government of India released guidelines and application procedures on December 5th 2015, World Soil Day. Authorities also conducted campaigns across country to aware importance of nurturing soil. As per latest reports, agricultural department authorities of all states and union territories are taking initiatives to allotting Social Health Card to all farmers of their jurisdiction. Some of the Indian states are already achieved 100% mark in allotting Soil Health Card to farmers.
Budget of Soil Health Card Scheme:
Soil Health Card project is announced with budget of Rs. 568 Crores. The Central Government also did allocation of funds for establishing new soil testing labs in all states of India. The initial year expense of the project is Rs. 23.89 Crores. The budget is also increased in next year along with increased applications. So far until now the expense of implementing Soil Health Card is more than 700 Crores.
Features of Soil Health Card Scheme:
Soil Heath Card have many unique features when comparing to other farmer welfare scheme. Some of them are following:
- A printable report are providing to each farmers after testing their soil. Farmers will get their report from official portal of Soil Health Scheme.
- Each soil report contain detailed nutritional value of the soil along with recommendation for enhancing nutritional value of soil.
- The SHC cards providing with recommendation of fertilizers by analyzing current nutritional value.
- Governments and officials are trying to reach Soil Health Card scheme to maximum number of farmers.
- Soil Health Card scheme is a scheme applicable for all states and union territories in India.
- Every farmer have to renew their Soil Health Card in each three years. So, farmers can evaluate improvement of soil nutritional value by comparing reports of each term.
Objectives of Soil Health Scheme:
The increase in yield will empower agricultural sector and Indian economy. Authorities are designed this project by aiming long-term targets. Some of objectives are following:
- Increase in yield production will help country to achieve economic growth.
- Helping farmers to increase profit margin by harvesting more yield.
- Prevent improper crops cultivation which destroy nutrition value of soil.
- Utilization of Soil Testing Laboratories (STL) for empowering agricultural sector.
- Awareness of soil testing importance.
- Connecting agricultural officers with farmers for further discussions also.
- Attracting more peoples to agriculture, especially youth.
- Reducing usage of chemical fertilizers.
Advantages of Soil Health Scheme:
There have many advantages for farmers by implementation of Soil Health Card. The major benefit is high yield in low cost.
- Farmers can select best crop to cultivate on their land by analyzing the Soil Health Card. Local agriculture officers will help you regarding this.
- Increased nourishment of soil year by year through applying relevant fertilizers recommended in Soil Health Card.
- Financial benefits through applying essential fertilizers only. As usual, fertilizer dosage without guidance will results in financial loss. Soil Health Card scheme are promoting organic manure than chemical fertilizers.
- Many of farmers are shifted to cultivation of crops requires less efforts from crops want high efforts.
- Encouraging farmers to substitute cultivation of their traditional crop with crops giving more profit margin.
- Educating farmers about scientific sides of soil. Soil Health Card is a opportunity to be familiar with soil testing.
- Data of types of soil in a state is a benefit about government. Officials can utilize this data to study impact of Soil Health Scheme and designing new schemes.
Procedures to Avail Soil Health Card:
The initial step are registering at official portal i.e. soilhealth.dac.gov.in. The applicant must submit accurate data for easy proceedings. Then the staffs of state agricultural department will schedule appointment after verification of submitted details. The staffs authorized for sample collection will approach you at the proper time. Then the sample will send to laboratory and you will get your Soil Health Card at Soil Health Portal.
The sampling procedure are scheduled to two times per year. The sampling will do only after harvesting after Rabi & Kharif Seasons. Other guidelines are following:
- Sampling procedure are same in all India level.
- Trained staffs are only allowed to do sampling procedure. The trained person may be a student of agricultural colleges or from a private agency.
- Sample soil will collect in V-shape from all corners and center of the agricultural land.
- The depth of soil sample collection are 15-20 cm. The the sample collected person will mixed five samples together and will refer it to laboratory for further procedures.
- The laboratories may be mobile vehicles and it will make soil testing easier in remote localities.
- After testing, laboratory will publish Soil Health Card to your account on Soil Health portal.
- You can download it for planning of next season and help from nearest agricultural office will make understanding of Soil Health Card easier.
Parameters to Determine Health of Soil:
The testing of soil samples are doing in authorized laboratories according to parameters fixed by soil experts. Those parameters are presence of Macro Nutrient, Micro Nutrient, Secondary Nutrient and Physical parameters like Electrical Conductivity and PH level.
Soil Health Laboratories:
Soil Health Laboratories are the major part of Soil Health Scheme. Any farmer can locate nearest Soil Health Laboratory by visiting official portal. The list of all Soil Health Laboratories are published at official portal as a list with contact address. Currently, 429 static labs, 102 mobile labs and 8,752 mini labs are available for soil testing across India. Also, Government of India are initiating steps to establish Soil Health Laboratory in every village of India and funds already allocated for more than thousand labs.
Impacts of Soil Health Scheme:
- Before implementation of Soil Health Scheme, Only 10% of farmers are aware on benefits of soil testing. The whole scenario of misunderstanding of soil testing is changed by implementing SHC scheme through local agricultural officers.
- One of the shocking findings of Soil Health Card scheme is that the 92% of farmers are dozing unbalanced value of fertilizers to their field. This process are ended in losing of nutritional value of soil and financial damage. Now farmers are saving money by applying essential fertilizers only and generating maximum yield from within shorter period.
- Proper application and promoting of organic manure resulted in 10% lower usage of chemical fertilizers.
Performance of the Scheme:
As mentioned earlier, the Soil Health Card is implemented on 32 states and all union territories with help of state government. The performance of all states are satisfactory and 19 states already provided Soil Health Card to all of their farmers. States like Kerala, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are still trying hard to enter 100% club of Soil Health Card scheme. But north-eastern states are still running backfoot in implementing Soil Health Card Scheme.