Soil Testing as a Tool for On-Farm Fertility Management: Experience from the Semi-arid Zone of India
Rainfed agriculture in the dry regions is affected by water shortages. Our earlier research showed that the deficiencies not only of major nutrients but also those of sulfur (S) and micronutrients are holding back the potential of agricultural production systems. The objectives of this article are to discuss the efficacy of soil testing to diagnose nutrient deficiencies using 28,270 diverse soil samples collected from farmers’ fields in the semi-arid tropical (SAT) regions of India and to confirm the efficacy of the soil test-based balanced nutrient management in enhancing productivity of a range of crops in on-farm farmer participatory trials under rainfed conditions. Results of a large numbers of on-farm trials demonstrated that soil testing is indeed an effective tool for on-farm fertility management, a prerequisite for sustainably enhancing the productivity in rainfed areas in the SAT regions of India. The need to strengthen the soil-testing infrastructure in the country is emphasized.