Soil test-based nutrient balancing improved crop productivity and rural livelihoods: case study from rainfed semi-arid tropics in Andhra Pradesh, India

Chander, G and Wani, S P and Sahrawat, K L and Dixit, S and Venkateswarlu, B and Rajesh, C and Narsimha Rao, P and Pardhasaradhi, G (2014) Soil test-based nutrient balancing improved crop productivity and rural livelihoods: case study from rainfed semi-arid tropics in Andhra Pradesh, India. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, 60 (8). pp. 1051-1066. ISSN 0365-0340

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Widespread multinutrient deficiencies in the semi-arid tropics (SAT) are among major factors for large gaps between farmers’ current crop yields and potential yields. In this study, we adopted a stratified soil sampling method to assess soil fertility-related constraints in farmers’ fields in eight districts of Andhra Pradesh in the semi-arid tropics of India. Most of the fields across all eight districts were critical in sulfur (61%–98% deficient fields); and up to six districts each in boron (83%–98% deficient fields), zinc (50–85% deficient fields), and soil organic carbon (55–97% deficient fields). Low soil organic carbon specifically indicates nitrogen deficiency. Phosphorus deficiency was critical in three districts (60–84%) while potassium in general was adequate. Soil test-based nutrient balancing through the application of sulfur, boron, and zinc in addition to farmers’ practice of adding only nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium increased crop productivity by 8%–102%. Benefit–cost ratio (1.60–28.5) proved favourable to scale-up balanced nutrition. Better post-harvest soil health and residual benefits of sulfur, boron, and zinc up to four succeeding seasons indicated sustainability of the practice. Results showed that balanced nutrition is a way forward for sustainably improving farm productivity and livelihoods.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: RP-Resilient Dryland Systems
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems
Uncontrolled Keywords: balanced plant nutrition, crop productivity, farm income, nutrient uptake, production system resilience, soil fertility.
Subjects: Others > Soil Science
Depositing User: Mr Siva Shankar
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2014 05:02
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2017 05:52
Official URL:
Funders: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Acknowledgement: The authors acknowledge Central Research Institute for the Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), Hyderabad, an Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institute for supporting the present research for impact. The authors also acknowledge the help from their consortium partners, Adilabad KVK, ANGRAU, WASSSAN, MARI, BIRD-BAIF, SAIRD, CWS and AAKRUTI in undertaking on-farm research for impact. They acknowledge the help received from Mr C Vijaya Ranganatha and Ms K Shirisha in analysing the soil and plant samples and Dr AVR Kesava Rao and Mr K Srinivas Rao for sharing rainfall data of target districts. The authors also thank Ms VK Sheila for proof reading the manuscript.
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