The use of fertilisers for agriculture in India has risen astronomically in the last 60 years, resulting in deterioration of soil health in many parts of the country, particularly the intensively cultivated Indo-Gangetic plains, also known as the “Great Plains”.

In 1951-52, fertilizer usage in the country averaged less than one kg per hectare, which has now risen to 133 kg per hectare, according to information given on the Department of Fertilisers website.

However, despite this increase, the consumption of fertilisers is still less in India than many developed countries.

According to World Bank data, per hectare fertiliser consumption (kilogram per hectare of arable land) in India, China, Japan, Bangladesh, USA, Pakistan, and Israel in 2007 stood at 142.3 kg/ha, 331.1 kg/ha, 171.2 kg/ha, 166.2 kg/ha and Israel 524 kg/ha, respectively.

In view of the deterioration in soil health, the government had in 2008-09 launched a new scheme, namely the National Project on Management of Soil Health and Fertility, to promote soil test-based balanced and judicious use of chemical fertilisers in conjunction with organic manure.

In addition, the National Project on Organic Farming was started in 2004-05 to promote the use of organic fertilisers.