India celebrates 8th Soil Health Card Day on February 19

Soil Health Card Day

India celebrates Soil Health Card Day on February 19 every year to remember the beginning of the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme and to raise awareness of its advantages. The seventh year from the SHC Scheme’s inception is 2022. Every two years, all farmers are to receive soil health cards as part of the programme. The Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme was introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 19, 2015, at Suratgarh, Rajasthan.

About the Soil Health Card Scheme

The Prime Minister coined the phrase “Swasth Dharaa. Khet Haraa” for the event. – Healthy Earth, Green Farm. Invoking the song “Vande Mataram,” he claimed that cultivating the soil is vital to create a place that is genuinely “Sujalam, Suphalam.” The soil health card programme, according to PM Modi, is a step towards realising this goal.

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. 2015 marked the International Year of Soils; that same year, the innovative initiative

Objectives of Soil Health Card Scheme

  • To issue soil health cards every two years to all farmers, so as to provide a basis to address nutrient deficiencies in fertilization practices.
  • To strengthen functioning of Soil Testing Laboratories (STLs) through capacity building, involvement of agriculture students and effective linkage with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) / State Agricultural Universities (SAUs).
  • To diagnose soil fertility related constraints with standardized procedures for sampling uniformly across states and analysis and design taluka / block level fertilizer recommendations in targeted districts.
  • To develop and promote soil test based nutrient management in the districts for enhancing nutrient use efficiency.
  • To provide financial assistance to farmers to apply corrective measures for deficiencies and popularizing balance and integrated nutrient management practices for their cropping systems.
  • To build capacities of district and state level staff and of progressive farmers for promotion of nutrient management practices.

Key features of Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Soil Health Card is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings. It will contain the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely N (Nitrogen), P (Phosphorus), K (Potassium) [Macro-nutrients]; S (Sulphur) [Secondary- nutrient]; Zn (Zinc), Fe (Iron), Cu (Copper), Mn (Manganese), Bo (Boron) [Micro – nutrients]; and pH, EC, OC (Physical parameters). Based on this, the SHC will also indicate fertilizer recommendations and soil amendment required for the farm.
  • The card will contain an advisory based on the soil nutrient status of a farmer’s holding. It will show recommendations on dosage of different nutrients needed. Further, it will advise the farmer on the fertilizers and their quantities he should apply, and also the soil amendments that he should undertake, so as to realize optimal yields.
  • The government is planning to cover as many as all farmers under the scheme.
  • The scheme will cover all the parts of the country.
  • In the form of soil card, the farmers will get a report and this report will contain all the details about the soil of their particular farm.
  • A farm will get the soil card once in every three years.

Benefits of the Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Under the scheme, soil is tested and a formatted report provided to farmers. So, they can decide which crops they should cultivate and which ones they should skip.
  • The authorities test the soil on a regular basis and they provide a report to farmers. So, farmers need not worry if the nature of the soil changes due to certain factors. Also, they always have updated data about their soil.
  • The work of the government does not stop at listing down measures required to improve the quality of the soil.
  • In fact, Government also employs experts to help the farmers in carrying out the corrective measures.
  • Farmers get a proper soil health record, thanks to the scheme. Farmers can also study the soil management practices and plan the future of their crops and land accordingly.
  • Generally, in government schemes, the person carrying out the study for a particular farmer gets changed, but in the Soil Health Card Scheme, the government is paying attention to see to it that the same person carries out soil analysis for a farmer.
  • Such efforts are helping to enhance the effectiveness of the scheme.
  • The soil card gives the farmers a proper idea of which nutrients their soil is lacking, and hence, which crops they should invest in. It also tells the farmers which fertilizers they need.

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