Farmers can now get online information on the amount of fertilizers that they must apply to a particular kind of soil and crop. This will help them overcome the problem of over-use of fertilizer that is eroding soil health.

The Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Soil Science has developed a web-based system that calculates the quantum and quality of fertilizers that should be applied to the soil for targeted yield.

As of now, 11 States — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal — can avail themselves of the system. The soil testing laboratories in these States have shared data on the types of soils that are available.

The software takes into account the soil type in different districts of the country and available nutrient in the soil. It takes into consideration the crop and cropping season in calculating the nutrient requirement. In some cases, it even takes care of different available varieties of main crops. Finally, the system converts the nutrient data into specific quantities that should be used by the farmer.

Institute Director A. Subba Rao told The Hindu that they had undertaken fertilizer mapping of a variety of soils. By December this year, the institute will collect data in 170 districts of the general properties of micro-nutrients for which they were sanctioned a budget of Rs. 10 crore.

In the Soil Test Crop Response-based Fertiliser Recommendation System, a person has to key in data about soil type, crop, season, district, crop variety and area to get the quantum of fertilizer that is to be used.