Agriculture is the backbone of India which provides employment to more than 50 percent people and food to all. Moreover, it has a significant contribution in the national income and international trade. However, farming sector is in distressed position and a large number of farmers have committed suicide overall India.The major thrust areas of agriculture and factors responsible for increasing distress among farmers are an increasing dependency on marketable inputs and uncontrolled prices inputs largely affected agriculture sector in India. Second, declining trend of public expenditure on agriculture and allied activities has largely affected prices of fertilizers and seeds, also lack of awareness and importance of soil testing among the farmers are the key reasons.
Every area is different when it comes to soil types and nutrient contents in soil. Soil sampling and testing can show you the plant available nutrients and other soil chemical factors important for crop production. Nutrient levels in soil also vary from year to year, so it is important to perform soil sampling and testing prior to planting any new crop. It is important for farmers to follow certain recommended steps for soil sampling and testing to develop a fertility management program. Indian soils suffer from widespread multi-nutrient deficiencies. The soil testing service is not adequate to cater the needs of large number of farm holdings. Farmers often apply fertilizers without any scientific recommendation. This increases the cost of production, lowers farm profits and leads to soil health deterioration.
We have about 1000 soil testing laboratories (STLs) throughout the country, which are not sufficient to cater the soil testing needs of the farming community. In case soil of each farm holding is to be tested, its turn would come at an interval of 10-12 years. Even the existing STLs are not utilized up to their potential, one of the major reason being lack of voluntary participation of farmers in providing samples and receiving as well as implementing recommendations. The STL staff cannot reach the farmers regularly; instead expect the farmers to come to the STLs. As a result, farmers seldom get soil test reports in time i.e., before sowing/planting of their crops, and continue to use fertilizers in ad hoc manner depending on their resources and availability of fertilizers in the market. Such indiscriminate or inadequate use of fertilizers over the years without soil testing is considered one of the major reasons deterioration of soil fertility at large scale.