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Soil Health Cards fail to benefit farmers in AP

Soil Health Cards fail to benefit farmers in AP
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Except in some limited places, the government’s Soil Health Card (SHC) experiment has not been yielding significant results in Andhra Pradesh.

Visakhapatnam: Except in some limited places, the government’s Soil Health Card (SHC) experiment has not been yielding significant results in Andhra Pradesh.

With the aim of improving the strength of soils, the Central government launched the Soil Health Mission and started assessing the health status of soil at various places across the country. As part of the mission, the Centre is contributing major share of the expenditure to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the soils.

As part of the mission, the state agriculture department had taken up the process for a period of three years which is called the first cycle. The Soil Health Cards were prepared and distributed to create awareness among farmers on the importance of soil testing, judicious and integrated use of fertilisers based on soil test data, improving soil health through green manuring, promoting use of additional nutrients for reclamation of acidic and alkaline soils and use of micronutrients for improving soil health and productivity.

However, the farmers complain that the recommendations given in the Soil Health Cards to increase the nutrients of the soil are not viable. They say that if they follow suggestions in SHCs, they have to shell the twice as much money on input costs as they are spending now.
The Government of India has released Rs 20 crore for the first cycle of 2015 to 2017.

The state government analysed 2.68 lakh samples for macronutrients, 1.5 lakh samples for micronutrients and 22,100 water samples in the first cycle. In the state, there are 240 farming situations. The department of agriculture collected 10 samples per revenue village to assess the soil fertility and distributed cards to the farmers and also explained to them how to use fertilisers based on soil test.

“Our recommendations will be based on the strengths of the soil. In fact, our recommendations will help the farming community for a period of three years. However, the costs may not be viable where two or three crops are grown in a year. But, for single crop areas, our recommendations will be a boon for the farmers,’’ said an agriculture officer of AP agriculture department.

“In fact, after introducing the Soil Health Cards, the usage of the fertilisers comes down by 20 to 30 per cent. However, there are some fertile lands like Godavari and Krishna river deltas where the farmers use huge amount of fertilisers, automatically the costs will be more,’’ the officer added.

By VKL Gayatri

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