Agriculture and Farming Technology Updates

Soil Health Card Scheme: 5-6% increase in farming post soil testing

Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and West Bengal did not have a single test in 2020-21


Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the Rajya Sabha on 10 December 2021 that ‘National Productivity Council found in its study in the year 2017 that by examining the soil in the country and adopting the recommendations of the SHC (Soil Health Card) An average increase of 5 to 6 percent has been achieved in the yield of crops. Apart from the fertility of the soil of the field, the quality of the seeds, the balanced use of fertilizers and the availability of means of irrigation also depends a lot on the yield of the crops.

Showing extreme sensitivity towards soil health, the Narendra Modi government implemented the Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme on a national scale from the year 2015-16. Under this scheme, about 11 crore farmers have been given free Soil Health Cards so far. In this scheme, the farmers get the facility of soil testing free of cost. All they have to do is collect the soil sample from their farm properly and send it to the laboratory for testing. It is from here that the test report is available in the form of soil health card.

Soil test parameters

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has made 12 parameters to test the health of the soil. These are – pH i.e. the measurement of acidity or alkalinity of the soil, Electro Conductivity, the amount of organic matter present in the soil, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur (N, P, K, S) and zinc, cadmium, iron. trace elements, trace amounts of micronutrients such as magnesium and barium (Zn, Cu, Fe, Mn & B). The details of all these parameters are present in the Soil Health Card. Reports are prepared only by following the prescribed scientific procedure in all the permanent or mobile laboratories (labs) that test the soil. ICAR has developed two digital kits for rapid soil testing. Due to these kits, the reports of mobile labs are made available to the farmers by reaching their homes.

There are 10,000 labs in the country 

10,052 laboratories are being run across the country by the Central and State Governments to check the health and fertility of the soil and give suitable advice to the farmers. These laboratories (Soil Testing Labs) are of many types. For example, the number of permanent labs in the country is 1,315, while 8,164 labs are called mini labs. Apart from these, there are 171 mobile labs and 402 village-level labs. Through this card, the farmers are given scientific information that what kind of fertilizer, how much quantity and how should be used to maintain the best health of the tested soil? So that the yield of crops grown in the tested soil can be increased and the balance of nutrients present in the soil can also be maintained. 

State-wise details of soil testing centers (labs): 

No. State/UT Type and number of soil labs
PermanentMobileMini Village-level Total 
1Andaman & Nicobar 10001
2Andhra Pradesh 47131,32851,393
3Arunachal Pradesh53008
7Dadra Nagar Haveli 00000
8Goa 20002
11Himachal Pradesh11969089
17Madhya Pradesh7875031589
24Puducherry 20002
28Tamil Nadu36160052
31Uttar Pradesh254006260
33West Bengal2680034
Total 1,315171816440210052

Not a single sample was tested in 11 states

Government statistics given by Agriculture Minister Tomar show that the interest of farmers towards increasing the productivity of farming by testing the soil has decreased a lot in the last two years. In the year 2018-19, where the farmers of the country got 5.27 crore samples of the soil of their fields tested, in 2019-20 only 28.8 lakh samples were tested and in the next year i.e. 2020-21, the samples were tested across the country. The number of samples sent to laboratories was reduced to just 11.5 lakh. Not only this, in 11 states and union territories like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and West Bengal, even a single soil sample was collected in the year 2020-21. Investigation was not done. 

S. No. State/UT 2018-192019-202020-21 
1Andaman & Nicobar 3,8941,0073,000
2Andhra Pradesh 34,62,6292,26,4870
3Arunachal Pradesh10,2665,43253
7Dadra Nagar Haveli 2,83800
8Goa 6,0669,2816,556
11Himachal Pradesh56,43319,6135,168
17Madhya Pradesh53,88,0001,27,0001,33,000
24Puducherry 533264
28Tamil Nadu35,33,9711,01,14432,750
31Uttar Pradesh1,74,72,0002,55,51720,000
33West Bengal6,12,5004,5200
Total 5,27,20,14828,82,89711,45,023

Note – In 2020-21, soil testing was done under the regional program in all the states except Uttar Pradesh. 

The above statistics show that either the farmers showed negligence in adopting the right methods of farming by getting the soil tested during the Corona period, or they still have the misconception that there is no special benefit in doing farming after getting the soil tested, because Whatever they know about their fields is sufficient. Another aspect could also be that most of the farmers find it very complicated and expensive to go to the soil testing laboratories. Whatever may be the truth, there must be a study of the rapidly declining trend of farmers towards soil testing and efforts must be made to keep it popular.

How to get soil tested? 

The size of the field for which soil testing is to be done can be less than one acre or more. Before taking the soil sample, it is very useful to see the field according to the crop and drainage facility. To collect the sample, dig a ‘V’ shaped pit about 6 inches deep with a spade or spade. Then from one side, from top to bottom, take out a uniform piece of soil about one and a half inches. Follow this process at 10-12 different places in the field and keep all the soil in a vessel or in a clean cloth. If sampling is to be done from a field with standing crops, take it from the space between the rows of plants. The soil should not be taken from the places where old fence, road, or cow dung was previously piled up. Dry the soil sample in shade. Then mix it well and make a bag of about half a kilogram of the soil you get. 

Prepare three such slips of paper for each sample bag, on which you should write your name, address, date of sampling, identification of the field, proposed crop for the field, whether the land is irrigated or rainfed and what is the problem with it. needed. Put one slip in the bag, stick or staple the other with it, and be sure to keep the third with you for record. Then take this sample to the nearest soil testing lab. After submitting the sample, collect the report or soil health card when called to collect the report. It is not necessary to get the soil tested at the time of sowing the crop. You can get it done at any time. Generally, by getting the soil tested at an interval of three to four years, soil treatment must be done according to the opinion of the experts. 

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