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International Journal of Agricultural 
Science and Research (UASR) 

ISSN(P): 2250-0057; ISSN(E): 2321-0087 
Vol. 8, Issue 6, Dec 2018,15-24 
© TJPRC Pvt. Ltd. 



TRANS 

STELLAR 

•Journal Publications • Research Consultancy 


THE PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES OF SOIL 
HEALTH CARD SCHEME 
ANAM CHAUDHARY 

Student, Institute of Agri-Business Management, Swami Keshwanand Rajasthan 
Agricultural University, Bikaner Rajasthan, India 

ABSTRACT 

Owing to the change in the preferences of crop production techniques over a period of time, several new 
challenges have drawn attention to the food security. One such improved technology is Integrated Nutrient Management 
which refers to the maintenance of soil fertility and plant nutrient supply at an optimum level. Lack of one or more 
nutrients in the soil may cause reduction in the crop yield even though an adequate amount of other nutrients is 
available. To maintain soil fertility Government of India has launched the Soil Health Card Scheme on 17 February 
2015. The main aim behind the scheme was to find out the type of a particular soil and provide ways in which they can 
improve it. This research aimed to study the awareness level of Soil Health Card Scheme among farmers in study area 
i.e. Bikaner. It also discussed about the effectiveness of this scheme. This study also undertook the constraints in 
adoption and implementation of this scheme. This research would provide a way to policy makers to improve the lacunae 
in the existing scheme and to make the scheme accessible to all the farmers of the country by increasing awareness and 
eliminating constraints. 

KEYWORDS: Constraint, Farmer, Fertiliser, Fertility, Labs, Nutrients, Scheme & Soil 


Received: Sep 08, 2018; Accepted: Sep 28, 2018; Published: Oct 26, 2018; Paper Id.: IJASRDEC20183 

INTRODUCTION 

Food security remains a worldwide concern for the next 50 years and beyond. According to the World 
Bank projections, the world’s population will reach 7.5 billion by 2020. The consequences of population increase 
are well known to us since we are living in a country where there is a high absolute increase in the number of 
people. Since there is no much scope for expansion of agricultural land, all the necessary increase in food has to 
come from the area already under cultivation, which can only happen through introducing the agricultural system 
and improved technologies to increase productivity contributing not only to more food but also to more income to 
the farm family. In the process of growing crops, human interventions have altered all agricultural soils from their 
natural state (Lai, 2007). Due to continuous application and imbalanced use of fertilizers, soil fertility is 
deteriorating. Soil quality and health change over time due to natural events or human impacts. They are enhanced 
by management and land-use decisions that weigh the multiple functions of soil and are impaired by decisions 
which focus only on single functions, such as crop productivity (Doran, 2002). Soils require a certain minimum 
level of plant-available N and P and other essential nutrients to fulfill the soil functions of food, feed and fibre 
production. However, a surplus supply of reactive N and P threatens the quality of the soil and results in the 
emissions of ammonia and N oxides to the air and loss of nitrate and P to water bodies (Velthof et al. 2011). 
Remediation of soil contaminated by heavy metals is necessary in order to reduce the associated risks, make the 


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16 


Anam Chaudhary 


land resource available for agricultural production, enhance food security, and scale down land tenure problems (Raymond 
A. Wayne and Felix E. Okieimen, 2011). 

Introduction to Soil Health Card Scheme 

The soil health card scheme which was launched by the government on 17 February 2015. This scheme has been 
promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India and 
implemented through the Department of Agriculture of all the State and Union Territory Governments ( www.india.gov.in '). 
The scheme will monitor the soil of the farmers well and will give them a formatted report. So, they can decide well, which 
crop they should cultivate and which ones they should skip. The authorities will monitor the soil on a regular basis. One in 
every three years, they will provide a report to farmers. So Farmers need not to worry if the nature of soil changes due to 
certain factors. Also, they will always have updated data about their soil. The work of the government does not stop at 
listing down measures required to improve the quality of soil. In fact, they will employ experts to help farmers in carrying 
out the corrective measures. Farmers will get a proper soil health record. Also, they can study the soil management 
practices. Accordingly, they can plan the future of their crop and land. Even if a soil has some limitations they can do 
something to get the most out of it. The soil health card will give the farmers a proper idea of which nutrients the soil is 
lacking and hence which crop they should invest in, they will also tell which fertilizer they need. In the process of Soil 
Health Card Scheme all soil samples had drawn being tested in various soil testing labs across the country. Soil samples 
should be from 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. 
The State Government collects samples through the staff of their Department of Agriculture or through the staff of an 
outsourced agency. Soil Samples are taken generally two times in a year, after the harvesting of Rabi and Kharif Crop 
respectively, or when there is no standing crop in the field. A trained person collects soil samples from a depth of 15-20 cm 
by cutting the soil in a “V” shape. It should be collected from four corners and the centre of the field and mixed thoroughly 
and a part of this picked up as a sample. Areas with shade should be avoided. The sample chosen will be bagged and 
coded. It will then be transferred to a soil test laboratory for analysis. The experts will analyze the strength and weaknesses 
(micro-nutrients deficiency) of the soil and suggest measures to deal with it. The result and suggestion should be displayed 
in the soil Health Cards. A Soil Health Card is meant to give each farmer, the soil nutrient status of his holding and advise 
him on the dosage of fertilizers and also the needed soil amendments that he should apply to maintain soil health in the 
long run. Soil Health Card is a printed report that a farmer will be handed over, for each of the land he holds. It will contain 
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 Soil Health Card will also indicate 
fertilizer recommendations and soil amendment required for the farm. The card will contain an advisory based on the soil 
nutrient status of a farmer’s holding. It will show recommendations on dosage of different nutrients needed. 

Introduction to Study Area 

Bikaner city is in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan in northern India. It is located 330 kilometres northwest 
of the state capital, Jaipur. Performance of Bikaner is good in this scheme. In 2016-17, 4.64 lakh samples are collected till 
November, 2016 in Bikaner. Out of this, only 1.54 lakh samples have been tested and 1.26 lakh cards are issued. Rajasthan 
has a wide network of Soil Testing Faboratories of 46 static and 12 mobile soil testing labs. Out of these, 32 labs have 
facilities to test micronutrients. 55 new soil laboratories are being developed and proposed to be operationalized by the end 
of this financial year. 57445 samples are collected in Bikaner up to 28 March, 2016 out of which 19436 are analysed. 


Impact Factor (JCC): 6.1964 


NAAS Rating: 4.13 



The Prospects and Challenges of Soil Health Card Scheme 


17 


21128 soil health cards have been distributed in the district up to 28 March, 2016. 

Objectives 

• To study the level of awareness of the Soil Health Card Scheme among the farmers 

• To study the effectiveness of the Soil Health Card Scheme 

• To study the constraints in adoption and implementation of the Soil Health Card Scheme 

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 

Study Area 

The entire study was carried out in Bikaner districts of Rajasthan and Hanumangarh during 2017-18. 

Collection of Data 

Primary Data: Primary data were collected through pre-structured schedule by personal interview with 
beneficiary farmers, non-beneficiary farmers and soil testing labs. 

Secondary Data: Secondary data were collected from government websites, internet, journals, books and 
magazines. 

Research Design 

Descriptive research was carried out in this project. 

Research Instrument 

Separate pre-structured questionnaire was prepared for farmers and soil testing labs consisting of both closed- 
ended and open-ended questions. 

Sampling 

The sampling unit consists of farmers and soil testing labs in Bikaner. 

Sample Size 


Table 1: Total Sample Size 


S. No. 

Respondents 

Number 

1 

Farmers 

80 (20 from each village), 10 are beneficiary and 10 are non-beneficiary 

2 

Soil testing labs 

3 


Sampling Procedure 

Selection of District: Selected district was Bikaner. Selection of the district was done by Convenient Sampling 
because the researcher was residing in Bikaner so it was easy for the researcher to collect data from Bikaner. 

Selection of Villages: Four villages (Napasar, Akkasar, Bholasar, Gajrupdesar) were selected on the basis of 
Judgemental Sampling. 

Selection of Farmers: 20 per village (10 beneficiaries & 10 non beneficiaries) was selected on the basis of 
Snowball Sampling because the researcher does not know who are the beneficiary and non-beneficiary farmers in selected 
villages. 


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Selection of Soil Testing Labs: All labs of Bikaner were surveyed. 

Selection of Crop: Groundnut was selected as a base crop on the basis of Judgemental sampling because the 
majority of the farmers were groundnut growers in Bikaner. 

FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS 

Before presenting the results of objectives, the demographic profile of the farmers according to their education 
level, land holding, and annual income is presented below in the table 2 and 3. 


Table 2: Profile of Beneficiary Farmers (N = 40) 


Income Status 

No. of Respondents 

Percentage 

Upto 2.5 lakh 

3 

7 

>2.5-5 lakh 

7 

18 

>5-10 lakh 

12 

30 

>10 lakh 

18 

45 

Total 

40 

100 

Education Level of the Farmer 

No. of Respondents 

Percentage 

Illiterate 

10 

25 

Primary 

13 

32 

Secondary 

6 

15 

Senior Secondary 

9 

23 

Graduate & above 

2 

5 

Total 

40 

100 

Land Holding 

No. of Respondents 

Percentage 

Marginal (up to 1 ha) 

2 

5 

Small (>1 to 2 ha) 

8 

20 

Semi-medium (>2 to 4 ha) 

8 

20 

Medium (>4 to 10 ha) 

10 

25 

Large (> 10 ha) 

12 

30 

Total 

40 

100 


Source: Primary Data 


It can be inferred from table 2 that majority of respondents were having more than 10 lakh income. Only few 
farmers were having income up to 2.5 lakh. In terms of education, the majority of respondents were having primary 
education, 25 per cent were illiterate and very few were graduates & above. In terms of land holding, the majority of the 
respondents were having more than 10 ha land due to which their income was also high and very few farmers were 
marginal farmers in the sample. 


Table 3: Profile of Non-Beneficiary Farmers (N = 40) 


Income Status 

No. of Respondents 

Percentage 

2.5 lakh 

4 

10 

>2.5-5 lakh 

9 

22 

>5-10 lakh 

6 

15 

>10 lakh 

21 

53 

Total 

40 

100 

Education Level of the Farmer 

No. of Respondents 

Percentage 

Illiterate 

12 

30 

Primary 

10 

25 

Secondary 

14 

35 

Senior Secondary 

3 

7 

Graduate & above 

1 

3 

Total 

40 

100 


Impact Factor (JCC): 6.1964 


NAAS Rating: 4.13 





The Prospects and Challenges of Soil Health Card Scheme 


19 


Land Holding 

No. of Respondents 

Percentage 

Marginal (up to 1 ha) 

6 

15 

Small (>1 to 2 ha) 

4 

10 

Semi-medium (>2 to 4 ha) 

5 

12 

Medium (>4 to 10 ha) 

8 

20 

Large (>10 ha) 

17 

43 

Total 

40 

100 


Source: Primary Data 


It can be inferred from table 3 that majority of respondents were earning very high income in comparison of 
others; whereaslO per cent farmers were having income up to 2.5 lakh. In terms of education, the majority of respondents 
were secondary educated only 3 per cent were graduates and above. In terms of land, holding most of the farmers were 
large farmers having more than 10 ha land and only 10 per cent farmers had small land holding. 

Level of Awareness of Soil Health Card Scheme among Farmers 

The present objective has been categorized under following sub objectives: 

• Identification of awareness level among the beneficiary farmers 

• Identification of awareness level among the non-beneficiary farmers 

Guttman scaling method is used to test the framed questions and on the basis of final cumulative scores of 
respondents awareness was determined. 

Identification of Awareness Level among Beneficiary Farmers 


Table 4: Awareness Level among Beneficiary Farmers 
Regarding Soil Health Card Scheme 



Questions 

Total 

A 

B 

C 

D 

E 

F 

G 

H 

I 

Total 

40 

17 

26 

8 

8 

18 

18 

19 

11 

165 

Average Awareness 

4.125 


Table 4 shows the responses of individuals, followed by the final score. “1” indicates awareness while “0” 
indicates unawareness by the respondent. Taking the cumulative score of respondents agreeing to any parameter, 
awareness level was calculated. Here all the respondents were aware about the scheme. Person scoring above 6 was 
considered highly aware while one falling between 6 to 3 was considered to have medium awareness level and one falling 
in 3 or below was considered less aware. Responses from 40 farmers were collected, out of which 5 farmers got score more 
than 6, 18 farmers scored between 6 to 3with average awareness level and rest 17 farmers scored less than or equal to 3 
with low awareness level among farmers. So it can be stated that 12 per cent of farmers were highly aware, 45 per cent 
were having average awareness and rest 43 per cent farmers were having low awareness regarding the Soil Health Card 
Scheme. 


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Identification of Awareness Level among Non-Beneficiary Farmers 


Table 5: Awareness Level among Non-Beneficiary 
Farmers Regarding Soil Health Card Scheme 



Questions 

Total 

A 

B 

C 

D 

E 

F 

G 

H 

I 

Total 

5 

7 

5 

5 

5 

7 

6 

6 

3 

49 

Average Awareness 

3.5 


Source: Primary Data 


Similar procedure as used in table 4 is also followed in the table 5 to check the awareness among non-beneficiary 
farmers. Here, out of 40 farmers only 14 were aware and rest 26 were not aware. Out of these 14 farmers only 7 per cent 
farmers were highly aware, 36 per cent farmers were having a medium level of awareness and rest 57 per cent farmers 
were having low level of awareness. An average awareness level about soil health card scheme among non-beneficiary 
farmers was 3.5. 


Include SHCS as an agenda in various meetings with farmer 


Handouts on soil testing like brochures & pamphlets to 
farmer during their visit to lab 


Display SHCS poster in lab premises 


Discuss SHCS with farmer when they visit lab 



Weighted Average 


Source: Primary Data 


Figure 1: Role of Labs in Creating Awareness about Soil Health Card Scheme 


From the figure 1 it can be inferred that discussing Soil Health Card Scheme with farmers when they visit lab was 
the most important role played by soil testing labs in creating awareness about Soil Health Card Scheme. Handouts on soil 
testing like brochures and pamphlets to farmer during their visit to the labs whereas including Soil Health Card Scheme as 
an agenda in various meetings with farmer were playing very less role in creating awareness. 


Effectiveness of Soil Health Card Scheme 


The objective aimed to study the impact of the Soil Health Card Scheme. Effectiveness is studied on the basis of 
two factors yield and productivity 

Effect of Soil Health Card Scheme on yield 

Paired Sample ‘t’ Test has done between yield before adoption of the Soil Health Card Scheme and yelled 
after adoption of the Soil Health Card Scheme. 


Impact Factor (JCC): 6.1964 


NAAS Rating: 4.13 

























The Prospects and Challenges of Soil Health Card Scheme 


21 


H 0 - There is no difference between the group means. 

H x - There is a significant difference between the group means. 


Table 6: Paired Samples Statistics for Yield 



Mean 

N 

Std. Deviation 

Std. Error Mean 

Pair 1 

Yield A 

2073.9500 

40 

72.11919 

11.40304 

Yield B 

2303.4750 

40 

172.21900 

27.23021 


Source: Primary Data 


Table 7: Paired Sample ‘t’ Test for Yield 



Paired Differences 

t 

df 

Sig. 

(2-tailed) 

Mean 

Std. Deviation 

Std. Error Mean 

95% Confidence 

Interval of the 
Difference 

Lower 

Upper 

Pairl | Yield A- Yield B 

-229.52500 

193.28125 

30.56045 

-291.33934 

-167.71066 

-7.511 

39 

.000 


Source: Primary Data 


Result of Paired t Test for Yield 

• Here there is a difference between the group means. 

• The above table 7 shows that p value is less than 0.05 so null hypothesis is rejected. It means that there is a 
significant impact of the Soil Health Card Scheme on yield 

Effect of Soil Health Card Scheme on productivity 

Paired Sample ‘t’ Test has done between productivity before adoption of the Soil Health Card Scheme and 
productivity after adoption of the Soil Health Card Scheme. 

Ho - There is no difference between the group means. 

Hi - There is a significant difference between the group means. 


Table 8: Paired Samples Statistics for Productivity 


Paired Samples Statistics 


Mean 

N 

Std. Deviation 

Std. Error Mean 

Pair 1 

Productivity A 

218.8000 

40 

61.29383 

9.69141 

Productivity B 

251.0250 

40 

69.86709 

11.04696 


Source: Primary Data 


Table 9: Paired Sample ‘t’ Test for Productivity 


Paired Samples Test 


Paired Differences 

t 

df 

Sig. 

(2-tailed) 

Mean 

Std. Deviation 

Std. Error Mean 

95% Confidence 

Interval of the 
Difference 

Lower Upper 

Pair 1 | Productivity A Productivity B 

-32.22500 

26.48414 

4.18751 

-40.69504 | -23.75496 

-7.696 

39 

.000 


Source: Primary Data 


Result of Paired t Test for Productivity 

• Here there is a difference between the group means. 

• The above table 9 shows that p value is less than 0.05 so null hypothesis is rejected. It means that there is a 


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significant impact of the Soil Health Card Scheme on productivity. 

• Here productivity is increasing and productivity is increased when input cost is low and yield is high. So it shows 
that cost is also reduced. 

Constraints in Adoption and Implementation of Soil Health Card Scheme 

Present objective is fulfilled for beneficiary, non-beneficiary farmers and soil testing labs respectively under 
following heads: 

• Constraints faced by the non-beneficiary farmers 

• Constraints faced by the beneficiary farmers 

• Constraints faced by the soil testing labs 

Constraints Faced by the Non-Beneficiary Farmers 


Table 10: Problems Faced by the Non-Beneficiary Farmers 


Factor 

Percent Position 

Garret Value 

Total Score 

Mean 

Rank 

Lack of awareness 

91.67 

23 

2537 

63.42 

1 

Lack of interest 

75.00 

37 

2390 

59.75 

2 

Soil testing not required for my field 

58.33 

46 

1955 

48.87 

3 

Do not know how to take soil samples 

8.33 

77 

1915 

47.87 

4 

Soil testing labs are located far away 

41.67 

54 

1913 

47.82 

5 

Do not know whom to contact 

25.00 

63 

1770 

44.25 

6 


Source: Primary Data 


Table 10 depicts that the most prevalent problem was found there was a lack of awareness about Soil Health Card 
Scheme among non-beneficiary farmers due to which the farmers were not adopting Soil Health Card Scheme. Lack of 
interest was found the second most prevalent problem faced by the farmers. Farmers had no interest in scheme so they 
were not adopting the scheme. Some farmers also said that soil testing is not required for my field. 

Constraints Faced by Beneficiary Farmers 


Table 11: Problems Faced by Beneficiary Farmers 


Factor 

Percent Position 

Garret Value 

Total Score 

Mean 

Rank 

Inadequate facilities in labs 

58.33 

46 

2724.00 

68.1 

1 

No proper care of samples 

41.67 

54 

2278.00 

56.95 

2 

Complex procedure 

25.00 

63 

1958.00 

48.95 

3 

Not reliable 

8.33 

77 

1901.00 

47.52 

4 

Waiting period for samples is too long 

91.67 

23 

1814 

45.35 

5 


Source: Primary Data 


Table 11 depicts the most important constraint faced by beneficiary farmers was inadequate facilities in soil 
testing labs like for testing samples, for keeping the samples safely there were no proper facilities. Also, no proper care of 
samples was taken in the labs. Complex procedure was the constraint faced by beneficiary farmers after adopting Soil 
Health Card Scheme. Farmers also said that sometimes some extra charges are demanded by the officials. 


Impact Factor (JCC): 6.1964 


NAAS Rating: 4.13 





The Prospects and Challenges of Soil Health Card Scheme 


23 


Constraints Faced by Soil Testing Labs 

Table 12: Problems Faced By soil Testing Labs 


Factor 

Weighted Average 

Rank 

Less no. of soil testing labs 

5 

1 

Low availability of staff 

4.66 

2 

SHCS is voluntary 

4.33 

3 

Low awareness among farmers 

3 

4 

Less interest of employees 

2.33 

5 

No proper usage of budget 

1.66 

6 


Source: Primary data 


Table 12 shows that less no. of soil testing labs was the major problem encountered by the soil testing labs and 
their availability of staff was also very less which creates hurdle in the implementation and adoption of the Soil Health 
Card Scheme. 

Suggestions Given by Farmers 

The suggestions given by the farmers for improvement in the Soil Health Card Scheme were to create proper 
facilities, making the scheme involuntary for the farmers, improve access of government officials to the farmers, create 
awareness, central government should move to direct cash transfers and reduce wasting time. 

The Suggestions Given by Soil Testing Labs 

Increase availability of staff and no. of soil testing labs, soil health card must be attached with Aadhar card and it 
should begin under nation-wide drive, exploitation of the subsidy must be reduced, soil testing must be included in the 
syllabus of science practical at the senior secondary level were some suggestion given by the soil testing labs for proper 
implementation of Soil Health Card Scheme. 

CONCLUSIONS 

In the light of the findings of the project entitled “ Prospects and Challenges of Soil Health Card Scheme” it can 
be concluded that this is a very good scheme launched by the Government of India for the farmers for maintaining soil 
fertility and improving soil health but its implementation needs much concern. Due to lack of awareness it is not widely 
accessible to the farmers. They do not know the benefits of this scheme so they are not adopting it, but soil testing labs are 
playing appreciable role in creating awareness about this scheme. This scheme is not only helpful in maintaining soil 
fertility, but it is also effective in terms of yield and productivity. The farmers who have adopted this scheme get the 
increase in yield and productivity of their crops. But still there are some constraints in adoption and implementation of this 
scheme. According to the non-beneficiary farmer’s lack of awareness, lack of interest, know how for taking samples, 
distance from soil testing labs etc. are some problems which are creating hurdles in the adoption of this scheme. Some 
farmers are facing problems after adoption of his scheme. Some problems are also encountered by soil testing labs like low 
availability of staff; less no. of soil testing labs, Soil Health Card Scheme is voluntary, no proper usage of budget, less 
interest of employees and low awareness among farmers. This scheme can be more effective if more stress be given in 
creating awareness and improving its constraints. So it could be concluded that this study can provide a way to policy 
makers to improve this scheme so that it can benefit the farmers in the most effective way. 


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Aiiarn Chaudhary 


REFERENCES 

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3. Introduction of Study Area. Retrieved from 

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4. Lai, R. (2007). Anthropogenic influences on world soils and implications to global food security. Advances in Agronomy, 93, 
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5. Raymond, A. Wuana and Felix E. Okieimen, “Heavy Metals in Contaminated Soils: A Review of Sources, Chemistry, Risks and 
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6. Veeranna, G., & Srijaya, T. Soil Test Based Fertilizer Recommendations For Targated Yields Of Rabi Maize (Zea Mays) In 
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7. Velthofet al. (2011). Nitrogen as a threat to European soil quality. Cambridge University Press. 


Impact Factor (JCC): 6.1964 


NAAS Rating: 4.13