Through a combination of government and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects, Telangana State is starting to see a rise in soil health initiatives – one key component to making farming profitable.
Recently ICRISAT coordinated soil testing right down to individual farm level, identified by Geographic Information System (GIS) coordinates, including micronutrient deficiencies. This level of detailing has rarely been undertaken. Based on the above exercise, the first set of soil health cards were delivered to 79 farmers of the Naganpally village on 19 June. They were trained on collecting soil samples from their fields and nutrient deficiencies in these samples were then identified at ICRISAT laboratories and fertilizer recommendations given separately for 16 different crops (ranging from paddy to millets) to each farmer. As a result, every farmer has a Soil Heath Card, which saves them money by not over fertilizing, as well as maximizing yields.
The next steps will be to conduct on-farm trials to show the yield gains and net profits.
This was part of the CSR of Ramoji Foundation in two villages. Other villages have also benefited through CSRs of SABMiller (10 villages) and Asian Paints (6 villages), and with the Medak Collector (20 villages).
Karnataka is the first state to have achieved soil micronutrient mapping at farm level across the whole state and this has been published as a Soil Fertility Atlas by the Government of Karnataka and ICRISAT five years ago. Currently Karnataka is the only state to have achieved this, as in many areas information of only macronutrients are collected at the district level. The precision of collecting soil micronutrient details will mean more accurate recommendations to the farmers. The initiative with farmers was monitored and recorded, showing up to 20 to 66% productivity gain across districts.
“Soil heath cards are one key step in a holistic approach. ICRISAT has a strong belief in a holistic approach, as any one intervention will only deliver its full advantage when all part of the value chain are also developed. Typically this includes watershed management, access to seeds of improved crop varieties, integration with livestock, on-farm practices including water use efficiency, links to markets, processing and agribusiness,” said Dr Suhas P Wani, Director ICRISAT Development Center.