Soil health ensures healthy crop yield and nutritional adequacy

India has a wide and diverse geographical terrain where agriculture is a major source of livelihood for millions. The crop varieties are also as varied and seasonal as the climatic zone in which they lie areas ranging from the high elevations of the mountains where horticulture is the focus, to the Ganges plains rich in alluvial soils which are ideal for wheat and rice crops, as well as the vast areas of sugarcane and oilseed cultivation in arid regions from the country and so on. Therefore, the agricultural sector in the country is very active and its care is challenging due to environmental degradation, climate change, depletion of water resources, outdated farming tools and techniques, lack of awareness and knowledge sharing and a host of other issues.

The land area is constant while the population multiplies several times, and the cultivation of multiple harvest cycles constantly has made the soil inert and undernourished. This situation affects the health, quality and quantity of crop yield, besides raising many social and economic issues. The issues regarding soil health, which is a major determinant of food self-sufficiency in India, and Mosaic’s explorations to identify unmet crop needs and develop potential solutions were captured after rigorous processes and tests before being brought to market. Roots in science and commitment to empowering the agricultural sector. Backed by rigorous research and development, Mosaic Crop Nutrition products ensure the right balance of nutrients and the right material consistency to give growers an efficient application experience and optimal nutrient distribution for increased yields.

Journey towards self sufficiency

India today has achieved food security for its vast population by being self-sufficient in grain production, while also building export capabilities. One of the determining factors that played a pivotal role were the nutrients that helped in maintaining the strength of the soil for higher crop yields. Rice production, for example, increased from 34 million tons in the 1960s to 125 million tons in 2021, a massive increase that can be largely attributed to improvement in soil health management through the provision of nutrients to enrich soil through fertilizers. Between 1960 and 2020, the yield of food grain crops increased from 712 kg ha-1 to 2325 kg ha-1 (2.5% CAGR), the corresponding jump in NPK use was from the average value 1.3 kg ha-1 to 93.2 kg ha-1 -1 (7.41% compound annual growth rate).

During the decades of the Green Revolution that extended between 1967 and 1978, the country adopted modern methods and technologies including highly diversified seeds, irrigation services, crop protection technology, and nutrients in the form of fertilizers to increase agricultural productivity. The increase in fertilizer use, during the corresponding period, respectively for rice and wheat, the architect of the green revolution, rose from 0.01 kg ha-1 to 166.5 kg ha-1 and from 0.2 kg ha-1 to 174.2 kg ha-1. Simultaneously, the rice yield jumped 2.7 times (1013 kg ha-1 versus 2705 kg ha-1) and the wheat yield quadrupled (851 kg ha-1 versus 3421 kg ha-1). It is reported that rice and wheat together share 70% (rice 40%, wheat 30%) of the NPK consumed by all food grain crops. The rice yield saw a remarkable increase from 34 million tons to 125 million tons between 1960 and 2021.

protect soil health

With the deterioration of arable land, it is of great importance to maintain, improve and rejuvenate the soil to improve yields to feed the growing population, but unfortunately the most important resource – the soil – is not given due attention. The unbalanced application of nutrients and the lack of replenishment of the organic content of the soil affected soil health significantly. Soil organic matter content is an indicator of soil health which should be about 2.5% to 3.0% by weight in the root zone (above 20 cm) which has often been reduced to less than 0.5% in most farmland soils in northwest India and elsewhere. Land misuse and poor soil management have adversely affected soil health thus undermining ecosystem services, putting them together with extractive farming practices such as burning crop residues in fields, crop residue removal, excessive plowing, flood based irrigation and many other factors which are severely degraded Soil health resulting in lower and stagnant crop yields.

Healthy soil is a boon and boon to the country as it alone can improve crop productivity and profitability for today and for future generations. The key question now is, if soil is so important, how can soil health be improved and made more productive to nourish generations? Five critical elements that can be implemented to improve soil health are:-

Balanced Crop Nutrient Management
Increase soil organic content
crop rotation
Bring more farms to farmland
Reduce soil compaction

First, it is important to know what soils need, as their needs vary from region to region with different levels of primary and secondary nutrient deficiencies. Thus it becomes of great importance to understand the nutritional requirements of the soil on the basis of its deficiency, for example, the soil in Punjab is deficient in sulfur while the soil in Karnataka is deficient in zinc. The most important aspect is understanding the state of this key component – soils in different geographies to provide a balanced nutrient management and supply with a proven concentration to improve soil health.

Efforts to conserve soil

In this regard, the Government of India has undertaken a massive project of mapping the soil of the whole country and issuing Soil Health Cards to all the farmers to enable them to understand the condition of the soil and use the nutrients accordingly. By 2021, 159 million soil health cards have been printed. Maintaining soil health is not a one-time task, but an ongoing process; It is where all stakeholders such as government representatives, industry, private actors in the field of fertilizers and agrochemicals, NGOs, scientists and farming communities must constantly focus. It is essential to take advantage of modern technologies such as satellite imaging and artificial intelligence for mapping, judgment and corrective measures to improve soil health.

Mosaic’s commitment to soil health

Mosaic constantly works hand in hand with communities around the world including India to provide innovative soil nutrient products to enable the balanced application of nutrients to promote soil health. Through its CSR project called Krishi Jyoti, Mosaic has shown results to improve crop productivity while also improving soil health. This has benefited more than 100,000 farmers in the most needy areas of the country. To date Mosaic has distributed over 30,000 illustrative groups in wheat, mustard, millet, cotton, maize, eggplant, tomato and onion, average yield increase of 18% to 35% as a result of using balanced crop nutrition. Increased awareness and focus on the part of the government bodes well for India and its soil. Everyone should remember that soil is precious because it is an essential natural resource that should be given equal levels of protection and care as water and air. Respect soil health and reap abundant crops!
Mosaic India Pvt. Ltd. is a subsidiary of the US Global Group that invests heavily in increasing the yield of healthy crops to meet the growing food demand of the world’s population. To help the world grow the food it needs, Mosaic produces high-performance fertilizers to provide advanced crop nutrition and high-quality potash and phosphate products to take advantage of the latest plant genetics technology and protect crops and equipment. Primarily an agricultural country, food bowl preservation in India is a very important aspect that Mosaic takes up to change the agricultural landscape and the life and communities associated with it.

– Mr. Robin Edwin, Managing Director of Mosaic India

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