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Brajendra, Satendra K Mangrauthia, R M Sundaram, ICAR-IIRR,Hyderabad, and A .K Vishwakarma ICAR-IISS,Bhopal and Sandeep Kondaji, krishitantra


Rice production in India alone  consumes almost 40 % of entire fertilizer production. Even with the existing  practices the use efficiency of major fertilizer nutrients such as NPK barely exceeds >40% and in almost entire soil types of India, the use efficiency of P hardly exceeds >20%. The existing gaps in reaching with the sound soil science technologies   available ,there is ample scope to enhance use efficiencies of major fertilizer nutrients by atleast 25% that alone will make a saving of almost Rs 2000/ farmer per hectare. We will take an example how it happens

  1. Nitrogenous fertilizer average India use / hectare= 120kg/ha means urea of 240kg/ha

Price of this @ Rs 8per kg urea= approximately Rs 2000 for urea alone, if we make a saving of 25% by utilising our existing technologies then 500 rs is saved for a farmer in just urea alone.

  1. DAP rates @ 1500 per bag means a minimum of 2 bags costs around 3000. An increase in use efficiency by involving specific technologies in hand developed at IIRR can alone save Rs 750/ hectare.
  2. Most of the Indian soils are high to medium and in puddled conditions K requirement is very less. A SAVING OF 25 % of this fertilizer alone can save per hectare Rs 250 per hectare.

Therefore, with just three elements in hands, a saving of Rs 1500 a farmer has made per hectare which enhances his income.

Now how IIRR technologies can bring this type of changes

1.Always soil testing kit developed based nutrient application

2.IIRR developed Enriched composts/fortified compost technology and tested in our farms this also can bring a  change of a reduction of 50% of the fertilizer loads. This technology is also being tested in AICRIP centres and now and it has been established that blending fertilizer or fortifying manures with instabnt fertilizer alsne cause s a reduction of 50% of the entire fertilizer loads.

  1. Diffeent technologies standardised at IIRR such as Leaf colour charts and SSINM and nutrient efficient rice cultures can bring almost 50% of entire fertilizer loads in rice farming . The rice farming technologies at field levels needs overhaul and it is possible to bring the reduction in fertilizer loads and enhancing the income of the farmers by atleast Rs 4000 per hectare.

SOIL HEALTH TESTING  KIT- Nutrient assay at the doorstep

A highly cost effective and rapid method of soil testing kit have been developed at Indian Institute of rice research. These kits are designed for on-form testing by a semi-skilled person who can test his own soil as often and in as many places as he feels necessary and after causing the need of soil he can apply fertilizers as required. These soil test kits can easily be transported to the field and on-farm soil testing can be done.  The ease in operation and portability to far flung areas/villages coupled with the kit requiring  no electricity/power to operate, will be immensely beneficial to the small, marginal, poor farmers and other resource poor stake holder of the region as it will bring soil health assessment to the plot or farmer level.


Customized Leaf Colour Chart for Nitrogen Management in Irrigated Rice

  • The customized LCC developed at DRR, Hyderabad on the basis of spectral evaluation of leaves of hundreds of varieties under different N levels can be used for real time N management by using the N application schedules (20-30 kg N/ha depending on the crop stage).


  • LCC is an easy-to-use and inexpensive diagnostic tool
  • The LCC can be used by the farmer himself to rapidly assess leaf nitrogen status and to decide the amount and time of nitrogen application.
  • Helps to maintain optimal leaf nitrogen content of rice crop, which can be vital for achieving higher nitrogen use efficiency and better yield.
  • Reduces the insect pest infestation
  • Reduces the cost of cultivation for rice


Mineral enriched composts

Manures  are  essential for  crop growth ,productivity and sustainability. Manure  requirement and their soil applications to boost soil fertility and productivity of crops can be quite large and thus expensive. ICAR-IIRR through an in house project has formulated a strategy of scaling down the use of fertilizer especially N,P with the use of Vermi and Poultry manures. These manures purchased from local market, was fortified with 10% of urea and SSP and the resulting product  was formulated as a cost effective treatment for meeting the  crop N and P requirement in rice.  The field fortified product was labeled as Mineral enriched manure and was designed for field  application to irrigated field conditions. Two years of field trial has proved that it is possible to obtain a productivity of 4-5t/ha of rice productivity with both hybrid and high yielding varieties with substantial improvement in soil quality parameters. Differential response of field fortified poultry manure in terms of uptake, yield parameters and yield were recorded for both the genotypes.  The experiment on Rice has established that a 2t/ha field fortification of poultry manure can substantially reduce fertilizer load and can maintain a productivity of 4-5t/ha coupled with enhanced soil health parameters.


Soil Health Card Scheme.

            Government of India introduced Soil Health Card Scheme in the  year 2014-15 to assist State Governments to issue soil health cards to all farmers in the country. Soil health card will provide information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility. Soil status will be assessed regularly every 2 years so that nutrient deficiencies are identified and amendments applied.

The unique features of Soil Health Card scheme are as follows:-

(i)        Uniform approach to collection of soil samples and testing at the laboratories.

            (ii)       Universal coverage of all the farm holdings in the country.

(iii)      Issue of Soil Health Cards after every two years.


Online E-soil health card generation system will enable user to generate their own soil health card based on the tested parameters.  This module has been hosted at   User has to enter their particulars and the soil tested data and the model will rate automatically its interpretations as low, medium and high.  In case of soil test data not available, user can easily  browse the soil information system at RKMP portal to locate their respective district databases. However, it is advisable, that for a specific and reliable soil health card of their farm a freshly tested soil data should be feeded in the system each time a user wants to generate the card online.

The card will reflect informations of the soil samples for almost 15 important parameters of soil quality. The self generated system after submitting the relevant informations will rate the soil quality as poor, average, good   and very good   and user can take a print out of the card from the system. 


Calculating a Nutrient Management Scheme – A DSS for Economizing nutrient  recommendation doses


How computers will calculate the nutrient requirement depends upon the schemes in which the same has to be applied. There can be several schemes such as conventional, organic, INM etc. The computer programme can be modified based on the nutrient management schemes. Let us take an example of such scheme in conventional system of nutrient/fertilizer recommendation.

Calculating a Nutrient Management Scheme is a two step process:

  Step 1. Estimate the required N, P and K to meet the yield target

  • Use the Nutrient calculator to estimate plant nutrient requirements.
  • Record your nutrient levels required.
  • Now multiply the result by a factor of two to get a fertilizer N requirement (this multiplication factor is because the efficiency of N recovery by the crop is usually around 50%).

Step 2. Decide on the best timing to apply nutrients/fertilizer.

  • N – N Split options depend on the season (yield potential) and the variety
  • P – Apply as basal to transplanted or early (prior to tillering) for direct seeded
  • K – K split options depend on the amount required.
  • Typically N is the primary limitation and the other nutrients may or may not be needed depending on soil nutrient supply.N recovery is typically of the order of 50%, thus to supply 37.5 to 50 kg N/ha to the crop, it will be necessary to apply between 75 and 100 kg N/ha. If slow release, deep placement, urea super granules or applications are made later, the fertilizer recovery can be increased and the rate required can be at the lower end.
  • If 1/3 is applied each at basal, mid tillering and panicle initiation, then the recovery is of the order: 1/3*.35+1/3*.45+1/3*.65 = 0.48

If there is no basal, 1/3 delayed, 2/3 panicle initiation, then the recovery is of the order of: 1/3*0.4+2/3*0.6 = 0.53

Calculating nutrients requirement based on STCR

 Nutrient Calculator (a simple computer program) which has been developed can  also be modified if we aim to develop such systems based on STCR. Then the programme will prompt user for  target yield, and area for which information has to be furnished, then it will calculate the fertilizer required to meet such an increase in yield. Lets take an example for a situation:Target yield 8 t/ha ,Yield without fertilizer 3 t/ha ,Yield to come from nutrients added = (8-3) t/ha = 5 t/ha Approximate extra nutrients needed/t crop:N = 15 to 20 kg N/ha, P = 2.5 to 3 kg P/ha, K = 15 to 20 kg K/ha Thus, to produce the additional 5 t grain/ha the crop will require an additional 5*15 to 20 = 75 to 100 kg K/ha.

Typically N is the primary limitation and the other nutrients may or may not be needed depending on soil nutrient supply. N recovery is typically of the order of 50%, thus to supply 175 to 200 kg N/ha to the crop, it will be necessary to apply between 150 and 200 kg N/ha. If slow release, deep placement or applications are made later, the fertilizer recovery can be increased and the rate required can be reduced.  On the basis of fertilizer prescription equation developed, a farmer can make his choice accordingly on the basis of soil testing of his field under operation.  The Nutrient Calculator (a simple computer program) which will prompt  a farmer in  Meghalaya to select his district first in the screenshot shown above. As soon as he enters his choice of crops he will be next asked to put a target yield and finally he has to click his district. The output in terms of fertilizer recommendations in terms of Urea, SSP and  MOP will be delivered on the Screen.

Nutrient requirements will depend upon:

  • Target yield and soil available nutrient status.

To estimate fertilizer requirements we need to know

  • Target yield.
  • Traget  crop yield
  • Fertilizer recovery
  • Type of fertilizer
  • Timing (which is dependent upon the maturity of the variety).

The Nutrient calculator works in following manner.

Step 1- Select your crop menu will prompt a user to select a crop first. Suppose a user has selected the crop “Rice”

Step 2- secondly user has to enter a target yield. The target yield should not excess with 70% of the biological yield possible. A vague or unassumedly high target yield entering will results in error estimates. So a reasonable yield target yield has to be entered. Suppose a user has entered target yield  of 5 t/ha for Rice.

Step 3- the user it is assumed must be knowing his location and district name in Meghalaya. So he has to just click his district. The programme has inbuilt character of initial soil test values for each place it generates recommendations. While development of the programme the fertilizer prscription equations the initial soil test values has been programmed. The output in terms of UREA, SSP AND MOP is delivered on the screen.


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