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

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

Hyper-accumulator Plants for Soil Detox

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Phytoremediation, hyperaccumulators

Mains level : Soil Health Management

A study published in the JNKVV (Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya) research journal concluded that heavy metal pollution of soil is “emerging at a speedy rate” in India due to industrialisation.

How does soil get contaminated?

  • Soil contamination can happen due to a variety of reasons, including manufacturing, mineral extraction, accidental spills, illegal dumping, leaking underground storage tanks, pesticide and fertiliser use etc.
  • These toxic heavy metals are then absorbed by food crops and other plants before they eventually make their way into our food chain, directly affecting human life along with ecology.

Detoxing the soil

  • Many technologies have emerged to remediate this soil pollution.
  • But these methods have been deemed lacking in terms of sustainability as they come with a large cost and have adverse effects themselves.

Novel technique: Hyperaccumulators

  • Turning toward more sustainable and eco-friendly technologies, scientists have developed methods of “Phytoremediation”.
  • It is a remediation method that uses living organisms like plants, microalgae, and seaweeds.
  • One particular way to remove toxic heavy metals from the soil includes the use of “hyperaccumulator” plants that absorb these substances from the soil.

What are hyperaccumulator plants?

  • Phytoremediation refers to the usage of “hyperaccumulator” plants to absorb the toxic materials present in the soil and accumulate in their living tissue.
  • Most plants do sometimes accumulate toxic substances.
  • Hyperaccumulators have the unusual ability to absorb hundreds or thousands of times greater amounts of these substances than is normal for most plants.
  • Most discovered hyperaccumulator plants typically accumulate nickel and occur on soils that are rich in nickel, cobalt and in some cases, manganese.

Where are they found?

  • These hyperaccumulator species have been discovered in many parts of the world.
  • They include the Mediterranean region (mainly plants of the genus Alyssum), tropical outcrops in Brazi, Cuba, New Caledonia (French territory) and Southeast Asia (mainly plants of the genus Phyllanthus).

How can they be used to remove toxic metals from the soil?

  • Suitable plant species can be used to ‘pick up’ the pollutants from the soil through their roots and transport them to their stem, leaves and other parts.
  • After this, these plants can be harvested and either disposed or even used to extract these toxic metals from the plant.
  • This process can be used to remove metals like silver, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, lead and zinc; metalloids such as arsenic and selenium; some radionuclides; and non-metallic components such as boron.
  • But it cannot be used to remove organic pollutants from the ground due to metabolic breakdown.

Advantages of phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators

  • One of the primary advantages of phytoremediation is the fact that it is quite cost-effective in comparison with other remediation methods.
  • The only major costs attached are related to crop management (planting, weed control, watering, fertilisation, pruning, fencing, harvesting etc.).
  • This method is also relatively simple and doesn’t require any new kinds of specialised technology.
  • Also, no external energy source is required since the plants grow with the help of sunlight.
  • Another important advantage of this method is that it enriches the soil with organic substances and microorganisms which can protect its chemical and biological qualities.
  • Also, while the plants are growing and accumulating toxic heavy metals, they protect the soil from erosion due to wind and water.

Limitations of hyperaccumulators

  • For all its advantages, this kind of phytoremediation with hyperaccumulators has a big drawback: it is a very slow and time-consuming process.
  • The restoration of an area with this process can take up to 10 years or more.
  • This comes with a large economic cost, proportional to the size of the area under rehabilitation.
  • The plants to conduct this rehabilitation must be carefully selected based on a large number of characteristics or they could act as an invasive species.
  • They could grow out of control and upsetting the delicate ecological balance of not just the area under rehabilitation, but also the entire region it is part of.

What can be done for their better utilization?

  • Due to this reason, scientists only propose using species that are native to the region where the phytoremediation project is undertaken.
  • This also has other benefits: these plants will already be acclimatised to the region and there will be no legal problems concerning the procurement, transport and use of seeds.

 

 

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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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

Green Manure and its productivity benefits

Note4Students

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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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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

What are Karewas?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Karewa

Mains level : Land degradation

Kashmir’s highly fertile alluvial soil deposits called ‘karewas’ are being destroyed in the name of development, much to the peril of local people

What are Karewas?

  • The Kashmir valley is an oval-shaped basin, 140 km long and 40 km wide, trending in the NNW–SSE direction.
  • It is an intermountain valley fill, comprising of unconsolidated gravel and mud.
  • A succession of plateaus is present above the Plains of Jhelum and its tributaries.
  • These plateau-like terraces are called ‘Karewas’ or ‘Vudr’ in the local language.
  • These plateaus are 13,000-18,000 metre-thick deposits of alluvial soil and sediments like sandstone and mudstone.
  • This makes them ideal for cultivation of saffron, almonds, apples and several other cash crops.

Significance of Karewas

  • Today, the karewa sediments not only hold fossils and remnants of many human civilisations and habitations, but are also the most fertile spots in the valley.
  • Kashmir saffron, which received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2020 for its longer and thicker stigmas, deep-red colour, high aroma and bitter flavour, is grown on these karewas.

How are they formed?

  • The fertility of these patches is believed to be the result of their long history of formation.
  • When formed during the Pleistocene period (2.6 million years to 11,700 years ago), the Pir Panjal range blocked the natural drainage in the region and formed a lake spanning 5,000 sq km.
  • Over the next few centuries, the water receded, making way for the valley and the formation of the karewas between the mountains.

Threats to Karewas

  • Despite its agricultural and archaeological importance, karewas are now being excavated to be used in construction.
  • Between 1995 and 2005, massive portions of karewas in Pulwama, Budgam and Baramulla districts were razed to the ground for clay for the 125-km-long Qazigund-Baramulla rail line.
  • The Srinagar airport is built on the Damodar karewa in Budgam.

 

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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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

[pib] Soil Health Card Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NPK fertilizers, Soil Health Card

Mains level : Soil Health Management

National Productivity Council (NPC) has carried out a study on ‘Soil Testing Infrastructure for Faster Delivery of Soil Health Card in India’ in 2017.

What did the study find?

  • In the study it was found that application of fertilizer and micronutrients based on Soil Health Card (SHC) recommendations resulted in 8-10% of savings.
  • It has led to an overall increase in the yield of crops to the tune of 5-6% reported by adopting the SHC recommendations.

 About Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme is promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • An SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments, that s/he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.
  • SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.
  • It will be made available once in a cycle of 2 years, which will indicate the status of soil health of a farmer’s holding for that particular period.
  • The SHC given in the next cycle of 2 years will be able to record the changes in the soil health for that subsequent period.

Parameters of SHC:

  • N, P, K (Macro-nutrients)
  • Sulfur (S) (Secondary- nutrient)
  • Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micronutrients)
  • pH, EC (Electrical conductivity) , OC (Organic content)

Try this PYQ:

Q. The nation-wide ‘Soil Health Card Scheme’ aims at:

  1. expanding the cultivable area under irrigation.
  2. enabling the banks to assess the quantum of loans to be granted to farmers on the basis of soil quality.
  3. checking the overuse of fertilizers in farmlands.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Post your answers here.
14
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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

[pib] Soil Health Card Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SHC scheme

Mains level : Soil health and its significance for farm productivity

 

The Soil Health Card Scheme has completed 5 years since its launch.

Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Soil Health Card (SHC) is a Government of India’s scheme promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • It is being implemented through the Department of Agriculture of all the State and Union Territory Governments.
  • A SHC is meant to give each farmer soil nutrient status of his/her holding and advice him/her on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments, that s/he should apply to maintain soil health in the long run.
  • The scheme was launched by PM on 19.02.2015 at Suratgarh, Rajasthan.

Details on the SHC

  • SHC is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over for each of his holdings.
  • It contains the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely N,P,K (Macro-nutrients) ; S (Secondary- nutrient) ; Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micro – nutrients) ; and pH, EC, OC (Physical parameters).
  • Based on this, the SHC also indicate fertilizer recommendations and soil amendment required for the farm.
  • It provides two sets of fertilizer recommendations for six crops including recommendations of organic manures. Farmers can also get recommendations for additional crops on demand.

Other details

  • The State Government will collect samples through the staff of their Department of Agriculture or through the staff of an outsourced agency.
  • The State Government may also involve the students of local Agriculture / Science Colleges.
  • It will be made available once in a cycle of 3 years, which will indicate the status of soil health of a farmer’s holding for that particular period.
  • The SHC given in the next cycle of 3 years will be able to record the changes in the soil health for that subsequent period.
  • Soil samples will be drawn in a grid of 2.5 ha in irrigated area and 10 ha in rain- fed area with the help of GPS tools and revenue maps.

 Why needed such scheme?

  • Soil testing is developed to promote soil test based on nutrient management.
  • Soil testing reduces cultivation cost by application of right quantity of fertilizer.
  • It ensures additional income to farmers by increase in yields and it also promotes sustainable farming.

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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

Radioactive Cesium Technology for measuring Soil Erosion

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the technology

Mains level : Preventing Soil Erosion

  • Indian scientists have now developed a method to measure the rate of soil erosion and associated decrease in organic content in soil by assessing levels of radioactive cesium in soil.

Radioactive Cesium Technology

  • Researchers at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Dehradun have developed a way to monitor soil erosion and decrease in carbon content in soil by relating it with levels of radioactive cesium in soil.
  • Carbon concentration is soil correlates with levels of isotope of cesium.
  • Different sites were found to have varying levels of cesium pointing at different degrees of soil degradation in different sites.
  • By applying various formulas, the cesium loss was then used to calculate erosion and associated carbon loss in soil.
  • For measuring cesium levels in soil, gamma spectroscopy technique was used.

Benefits of this technique

  • Radioactive cesium technology is a more rapid and less expensive method for soil erosion studies in the severely intensive croplands.
  • It gives more accurate results for all types of erosion studies including historic, comparative and long-term soil and soil organic carbon erosion.
  • This method can help in monitoring the effects of soil erosion and effectiveness of soil conservation strategies.

Why monitor Soil Erosion?

  • Soil supports plants, insects and microbial life and is formed by natural forces over a long period of time.
  • Carbon reaches soil through the microbial action on withering plant parts and remains in soil, changing its physio-chemical properties and also enhancing its fertility.
  • This way soil also sequesters carbon helping in regulating carbon levels in the atmosphere.
  • Soil erosion, which involves disaggregation and displacement of soil, leads to decrease in its organic content and eventually its fertility.
  • Natural and human activities are contributing to soil erosion and posing problems for both food production and climate change.
  • Therefore, monitoring of soil erosion induced-carbon loss from soil is important.

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Soil Health Card – A Tool For Agri Revolution

Launched by the central government in February 2015, the scheme is tailor-made to issue ‘Soil card’ to farmers which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers required for the individual farms.


 

Agriculture as primary activity in India

  • Agriculture since ages is the mainstay of the Indian population.
  • The story of Indian agriculture has been a spectacular one, with a global impact for its multi-functional success in generating employment, livelihood, food, nutritional and ecological security.
  • Agriculture and allied activities contribute about 18% to the GDP of India (as of 2014-15). The green revolution had heralded the first round of changes.
  • India is the second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugar, groundnut as also in production of cash crops like coffee, coconut and tea.

What is the scope and focus of government in agriculture?

  • India is now eyeing second Green Revolution in eastern India.
  • The need for enhanced investment in agriculture with twin focus on higher quality productivity and welfare of farmers.
  • In the entire scenario, importantly the government has laid emphasis on the awareness campaign and enhanced agri knowledge for the farming community.

Why is there a need of awareness in assessing soil health position?

  • Awareness of soil health position and the role of manures would help in higher production of foodgrains in eastern India too and this would help tackle the decline in production in central and peninsular India.
  • The growth in foodgrains, rice and wheat, from eastern India would provide an opportunity to procure and create foodgrain reserves locally.
  • This would reduce the agricultural pressure on Punjab and Haryana as well.

 

Is it Gujarat’s model programme?

  • From 2003-04, Gujarat has been the first state to introduce Soil Health cards, to initiate the scientific measures for Soil Health care.
  • In Gujarat, over 100 soil laboratories were set up and the result of scheme was found quite satisfactory.
  • To start with, the agriculture income of Gujarat from Rs 14000 crore in 2000-01 had gone up to staggeringly high Rs 80,000 crore in 2010-11.

Why did government start taking effective action on soil health card initiative?

  • According to renowned expert and the ‘father of Green Revolution’, M S Swaminathan, there is need to opt for wide range of crops cultivation.
  • The awareness of soil health conditions would only make these operations easier and more result oriented. The government can help farmers adopt crop diversification.
  • The Soil Health Card mechanism definitely aims to help herald some essential revolutionary changes and salutary effect in country’s agricultural scene.
  • Farmers would understand the fertility factor of the land better and can be attracted towards value added newer crops.
  • This would help reduction in risk in farming and also the cost of overall cultivation process would get reduced.

Why has Soil Health Card portal been launched?

  • Some states are already issuing Soil Health Cards but, it was found that, there was no uniform norm for sampling, testing and distribution of Soil Health Cards across the states.
  • Taking a holistic view on these, the central government has thus rightly taken measures like launching of a Soil Health Card portal.
  • This would be useful for registration of soil samples, recording test results of soil samples and generation of Soil Health Card (SHC) along with Fertilizer Recommendations.
  • Soil Health Card portal aims to generate and issue Soil Health Cards based on either Soil Test-Crop Response (STCR) formulae developed by ICAR or General Fertilizer Recommendations provided by state Governments.

How will it be implemented by Union and State government?

  • The scheme has been approved for implementation during 12th Plan with an outlay of Rs.568.54 crore.
  • For the current year (2015-16) an allocation of Rs.96.46 crore – only for the central government share-has been made.
  • The scheme is to be otherwise implemented on 50:50 sharing pattern between Government of India and state Governments.
  • In order to improve quality of soil and ultimately for better nutrient values and higher yields.
  • Experts say while at present, general fertilizer recommendations are followed by farmers for primary nutrients, the secondary and micronutrients are often overlooked.

Can proactive steps and such programmes lead to efficient and effective agriculture? Really?

  • The government is effectively marching in quite ambitiously for a grand success of the Soil Health Card scheme and proposes to ensure that all farmers in the country have their respective Soil Health Cards by 2017.
  • In the first year of NDA regime 2014-15, a sum of Rs 27 crore was sanctioned and in 2015-16, there is an allocation of Rs 100 crore to all the states to prepare soil health cards.

What do you think on such proactive initiatives by government? Let us know!


 

Source - Ministry of Agriculture

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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