Soil Health Management – NMSA, Soil Health Card, etc.

Green Manure and its productivity benefits


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green Manure

Mains level : Soil Health Management

The Punjab agriculture department is promoting the cultivation of green manure these days.

What is the news?

  • Punjab Agro is providing subsidy on the seed at the rate of Rs 2,000 per quintal, which costs Rs 6,300 per quintal without subsidy
  • The farmers can avail its seed from the block level offices of the agriculture department as limited stock is available.

What is Green Manure?

  • Green manures are crops grown specifically for maintaining soil fertility and structure.
  • It is done by leaving uprooted or sown crops parts, allowing them to wither onto the field and serve as mulch and soil fertilizers.
  • They are normally incorporated back into the soil, either directly, or after removal and composting.
  • There are three main varieties of green manure, including
  1. Dhaincha
  2. Cowpea
  3. Sunhemp
  • Also some crops such as summer moong, mash pulses and guar act as green manure.
  • They can be sown after wheat cultivation

Characteristics of green manure

  • Green manure must be leguminous in nature
  • They must bear maximum nodules on its roots to fix large amount of atmospheric nitrogen in the soil

Why is sowing of green manure important in Punjab?

  • Punjab’s per hectare fertiliser consumption, which is around 244 kg, is one of the highest in the country and is also higher than the national average.
  • Growing green manure can curtail this consumption to a large extent by 25 to 30% and can save huge input cost for the farmers.
  • In Punjab high-intensity agricultural practices are prevalent as farmers take two-three crops in a year, which requires lots of chemical fertilisers such as urea, DAP etc.
  • And this leads to deficiencies of micronutrients like iron and zinc, especially in the soils where rice is cultivated thus affecting productivity.
  • In such a situation, green manuring helps improve soil health and enhance the productivity of the crops.

How does it benefit the soil and crop?

  • Green manure helps in enhancing the organic matter in the soil, meets the deficiency of the micronutrients and reduces the consumption of the inorganic fertilisers etc.
  • It is a good alternative to the organic manure and it conserves the nutrients, adds nitrogen and stabilises the soil structure.
  • It decomposes rapidly and liberates large quantities of carbon dioxide and weak acids, which act on insoluble soil minerals to release nutrients for plant growth.
  • Also, it contains 15 to 18 quintals of dry matter, which also contains phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, iron and manganese, per acre and 20 to 40kg per acre of nitrogen.
  • Green manure crops naturally have the ability to suppress weed growth, hence preferred by farmers.
  • Soil erosion is prevented with improved stability of the top-soil. This helps to improve the overall soil structure by providing porosity and aeration in the soil.

Limitations of green manure

  • Sometimes excessive use of green manure may cause over-fixation of nitrogen and phosphorus into the land making it toxic and further leading to nutrient pollution.
  • Green manure crops may prove to be too costly for the farmers; it may end up meaning that they will plant less cultivation crops for the sake of planting green manure crops.
  • Farmers won’t be able to plant their marketable cash crop during the manure phase as sometimes they may choose to increase land fertility rather than plant crops.
  • The green manure crop may sometimes compete with the crops that will be the primary source of income.

Various policy initiatives

  • Under Sub- Mission on Seed and Planting Material (SMSP), the govt. provides 50% cost assistance for the distribution of green manure required for a one-acre area per farmer.
  • The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) promotes cluster-based organic farming with PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) certification.


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