Agriculture is an old practice as initiation of civilization. But now we are in the stage to take especial care of soil for production of crops to feed the growing demographic pressure. Due to the use of excess of one nutrient and deficit of other through inorganic fertilizer, the degradation of soil health is exacerbated which ultimately increases soil salinization, loss of soil fertility, development of wastelands, soil erosion, decreasing useful soil micro-organisms and contamination of soil with toxic elements etc. As soil is one of most important factor effecting crop productivity, degradation of soil health has a negative impact on the same and it is directly effecting food security of the country.
The term soil health includes soil physical, chemical and biological attributes that ensure proper retention and release of nutrients and water to the plants and ultimately express the ability of soil to sustain agricultural productivity. The main concern of the time of intensive farming is low addition of organic matter, imbalance use of inorganic fertilizer and non or sub optimal application of secondary and micronutrients over years. These malpractices resulted in deterioration of soil health. It is utmost important to assess soil health at a regular interval so that suitable intervention can be made to maintain its quality. Moreover, it is also very important to ensure that farmers apply nutrients only taking into consideration of the nutrients already present in the soil.
Soil health card is used to assess the current status of soil health and to determine the changes over time. A soil health card displays farmer’s details, soil sample details, soil health indicators such as PH, EC, organic C, available N, P, K, S, Zn, B, Fe, Mn, Cu of soil, recommendation of secondary and primary micronutrient along with fertilizer nutrients, organic matter, lime/gypsum requirement, microbial activity of soil, suitable cropping sequence, associate description of each terms, crop-wise recommendation of fertilizers for that particular land for which that soil health card is issued etc. It is given more priority to restore soil health by use of organic manures and recycling of biomass, encouragement in mixed cropping or intercropping with pulses in all major cropping system, N-fixing trees on bunds, green manure crop, soil test based use of fertilizer recommendations, bio-fertilizers, lime/gypsum etc. according to soil test results.
A scientific tool soil health card, is used to evaluate soil fertility and get prescription of balanced doses of fertilizers, confirm nutrient status and deficiencies that to be improved, find out reason behind poor plant production or performance, response of fertilizer rate under specific soil, crop conditions. With the use of soil health card one can monitor the changes in soil health in accordance to changes in land use and its management and further improvement can be made by soil amendments. The foremost advantage of the soil health card is to prevent the discriminate and non- judicious use of chemical fertilizers, decrease in contamination of water and soil in addition to improvement of crop production and productivity with judicious pre-planning of cropping pattern and thus decrease in cost benefit ratio.
Sontara Kalita* and Milon Jyoti Konwar
Department of Agronomy (Ph.D Scholar)Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat, Assam- 785013