Get good scores in your Soil Health Card (SHC)

Get good scores in your Soil Health Card (SHC)

December 14, 2020
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Soil health card(SHC) scheme 2015

India’s unique programme of Soil Health Card was launched on February 19, 2015 by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Suratgarh, Rajasthan. The objectives of the Soil Health Card scheme was to issue soil health cards to farmers to assess the nutrient status of every farm holding in the country. Soil testing is done every 2 years to promote nutrient management and address nutritional deficiencies in agricultural practises.

Agricultural output depends on an array of factors and one of the major ones is the quality of soil. Soil is the primary source of nutrients for crops and it is important to keep a regular check on its health to anticipate a healthy yield. An ordinary Indian farmer is well aware of the fact and hence they keep on adding various fertilizers, agrichemicals and and crop supplements for good harvest. What the farmers are not aware of is, that the quality of soil is not constant for each crop season and how to measure the soil health after every crop cycle.

So how much fertilizer, chemicals and supplement is enough for the crop and the farmland? In absence of right data and information on soil health the farmers keep on adding farm inputs to the crops thereby increasing the cost of production with no significant change in productivity and yield. To empower the farmers with a scientific approach, soil health card scheme was launched in 2015 and it has successfully completed 5+ years of its launch and adoption.

Benefits of Soil Health Card scheme

  • Soil testing done at regular intervals reduces cultivation cost by application of right quantity of fertilizer and addresses deficiencies in the soil.
  • Improvement in soil health gives additional income to farmers by increase in crop yields and it also promotes sustainable farming.
  • 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.
  • Soil Health Card (SHC) is essentially a health check-up report of the soil condition in a particular geographic area and can give guidance on what types of crops suits the farm land.
  • This card contains the status of soil health and based on the test results, nutrients recommendation is provided by experts. This card serves as a historic data point for decision making in the future.

Highlights of Soil Health Card Scheme

So far 1562 village level static Soil Testing Labs (STLs), 8752 mini STLs, 429 new (STLs), 102 new mobile STLs have been sanctioned under the scheme since 2014-15. Also, 6,954 villages have been identified by the States in which 21 lakh samples have been collected, 14.75 lakh of them analysed and 13.59 lakh cards already distributed to farmers. Apart from this, 2,46,979 demo and 6,951 Kisan Melas have been approved to States.

SHC Portal has been created to store the farmer’s database for both crop cycles and is available in 21 languages for farmers’ convenience. SHC not only tells about what supplements to use in soil but also informs the farmers if they should invest in a particular crop or not. This advisory can be a major breakthrough to avoid crop failures leading to heavy losses. It would also help farmers to plan their finances accordingly, based on the quantity of input required by the soil.

The National Productivity Council (NPC) revealed a report that supports the fact that the SHC scheme has led to promotion of sustainable farming with decreased use of chemical fertilisers by 8-10% and overall increase in yield of crops by 5-6% as a result of using the recommended quantity of supplements.

FocusAgritech’s Outlook:  

During the next five years, it is planned to cover 4 lakh villages under individual farm holding soil sampling & testing, conduct 2.5 lakh demo, set up additional 250 village level soil testing labs, strengthen 200 soil testing labs with Intensively Coupled Plasma (ICP) spectrophotometer and promote use of micro-nutrients in 2 lakh hectare area. Currently SHC is designed to provide two types of fertilizer recommendations for six crops including organic manures. Additional recommendations are being made available on demand.

Soil testing has proven results of reduced cultivation cost due to application of the right quantity of fertilizer. Such prudent and scientific methods of agriculture will not only generate additional income for the farmers due to cost saving, but also improve yield owing to expert recommendations on the best practices. The SHC is yet to realise its full potential due to limited reach. The government should mobilise the state government bodies to popularize this laudable scheme and establish more Krishi Vigyan Kendra for soil testing laboratories.

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