Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme is a Government of India scheme under the Ministry of Agriculture and promoted by the Department of Agriculture and Co-operation. The Department of Agriculture of all States and UT’s implements this scheme.
The government launched this scheme to give farmers the soil nutrient status of their holding. This scheme also advises farmers on the dosage of fertilisers and the required soil amendments that they should apply for maintaining the soil health of their holdings in the long run.
The government gives a soil health card to a farmer for each of his holdings. It is a printed report containing the status of the soil nutrients of the farmer’s holdings concerning 12 parameters. The 12 parameters of the soil nutrients reported in the soil health card are N, K, P (Macro-nutrients), S (Secondary- nutrient), Zn, Cu, Fe, Bo, Mn (Micro-nutrients), and pH, OC, EC (physical parameters).
Based on the status of the 12 parameters of soil nutrients, the soil health card will also indicate fertiliser quantities and soil amendment needed to be applied for the farm to obtain optimal yields. A farmer can use the soil health card to assess the current soil health status and determine the changes in soil health affected by land management.
The National Informatics Center (NIC) has developed a web portal to generate uniform soil health cards and fertiliser recommendations. The farmers can track the soil sample, print the soil health card and locate a soil testing laboratory on this portal.
Soil samples are drawn from a grid of 2.5 hectares in an irrigated area and 10 hectares in a rain-fed area with the help of revenue maps and GPS tools. About 253 lakh soil samples will be tested every three years to generate around 14 crore soil health cards according to the grid pattern adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The respective State Governments will collect samples through the staff of the Department of Agriculture or an outsourced agency. The State Governments can also involve the students of local science or agriculture colleges. The State Government generally collects samples two times a year, i.e. after harvesting Rabi crops and Kharif crops or when there is no standing crop in the field.
Trained persons will collect soil samples from 15 cm to 20 cm depth in a ‘V’ shape by cutting the soil. It is collected from the centre and four corners of the field and mixed thoroughly. Areas with shade are avoided while collecting samples.
The selected samples are coded, bagged and transferred to a soil test laboratory for analysis. The payment per soil sample provided to the State Government is Rs.190. The sum of Rs.190 covers the cost of collecting the soil sample, soil testing, distribution and generation of soil health card to the farmer.
The soil sample is sent to the soil testing laboratory for analysis. A soil testing laboratory is a facility for testing the soil sample to indicate the 12 parameters of soil nutrients. This soil testing facility can be mobile or static or maybe portable in remote areas. The soil samples are tested as per the approved standards for all 12 parameters in the following way:
The main aim behind the SHC scheme is to find out the type of a particular soil and provide ways to improve it. Even if the soil has some limitations, corrective measures can be taken to improve them. The government helps the farmers decide the appropriate fertilisers and improve their crop yield through this scheme.