NABARD Grade-A Exam : Notes on Agriculture & Rural Development | Major Soil Types, Soil Fertility, Fertilizers

NABARD Grade-A Exam : Notes on Agriculture & Rural Development (with focus on Rural India)
The upcoming important exams are NABARD grade A and grade B, in which there is a section Agriculture & Rural Development (with a focus on Rural India) having high weightage of 40 marks. So, for the same, it becomes really important to have an in-depth knowledge of the various terminologies and practices involved in agriculture. Further its imperative to be aware of the present scenario of Indian Agriculture and the state of Rural Development in India. To help you with this, today, we are providing you with all necessary information related to the mentioned field which will help you to fetch some good marks.

Soil Types in India

Soil Type
Major Minerals
Deficient in
Mainly found in the plains of Gujarat,  Punjab, Haryana, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand etc.
Potash and Lime
Nitrogen and Phosphorous
Large variety of rabi and kharif crops such as wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton, jute etc.
Black(Regur Soil)
Deccan plateau- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh,Tamil Nadu, Valleys of Krishna and Godavari.
Lime, Iron, Magnesia and Alumina, Potash
Phosphorous, Nitrogen and organic matter
Cotton, sugarcane, jowar, tobacco, wheat, rice etc.
Eastern and southern part of the deccan plateau, Orissa, Chattisgarh and southern parts of the middle Ganga plain.
Iron and Potash
Nitrogen, Phosphorous and humus.
Wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane and pulses
Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Orissa hills.
Iron oxide and potash
Organic matter, Nitrogen, Phosphate and Calcium
Cashewnuts, tea, coffee, rubber
Arid and Desert
Western Rajastan, north Gujarat and southern Punjab
Soluble salts, phosphate
Humus, Nitrogen
Only drought resistant and salt tolerant crops such as barley, rape, cotton, millets maize and pulses
Saline and Alkaline
Western Gujarat, deltas of eastern coast, Sunderban areas of West Bengal, Punjab and Haryana
Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium
Nitrogen and Calcium
Unfit for agriculture

Soil Fertility
“The capability of the soil to provide all the essential plant nutrients in available form is called as soil fertility”.
Soils are composed of five main components:
a) mineral particles derived from rocks by weathering;
b) organic materials - humus from dead and decaying plant material;
c) soil water - in which nutrient elements are dissolved;
d) soil air - both carbon dioxide and oxygen;
e) Living organisms including bacteria that help plant decomposition.

Types of Soil Fertility:
(i) Inherent or Natural Fertility:
(a) The soil, as nature contains some nutrients, which is known as inherent fertility.
(b) Among plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is essential for the normal growth and yield of crop. The inherent fertility has a limiting factor from which the fertility is not decreased.
(ii) Acquired Fertility:
(a) The fertility developed by application of manures and fertilizers, tillage, irrigation, etc., is known as acquired fertility.
(b) The acquired fertility has also a limiting factor. It is found by experiment that the yield does not increase remarkably by application of additional quantity of fertilizers.

Methods of Soil Fertility Evaluation
Different Methods of Soil Fertility Evaluation are:
1. Biological Method: a. Field trials b. Pot culture c. Neubauer seedling method d. Aspergillus niger method.
2. Use of visual symptoms of nutrient deficiency or toxicity method.
3. Plant Analysis Method: a. Total elemental analysis b. Plant tissue tests 4. Soil Analysis Method: Soil testing has been used by soil scientist as an aid in determining soil fertility level.

Causes of Decline in Soil Fertility
1) Nutrient mining
2) Physical degradation of soil (poor structure, compaction, crusting and waterlogging etc.)
3) Decrease in organic matter content and soil bioactivity
4) Loss of nutrients through various routes
5) Soil acidification, salinization and alkalization
6) Inefficient soil management
7) Soil pollution
8) Loss of top soil by erosion

Managing Decline in Soil Fertility
Fertility management aims to maintain soil organic matter, soil structure, soil nutrient status and satisfactory soil pH.
This can be achieved in cropping systems by:
1) including pasture phases and leguminous crops
2) including the addition of soil amendments or fertilizers
3) employing a reduced tillage system
4) Retaining crop residues on site.

Fertilizer, natural or artificial substance containing the chemical elements that improve growth and productiveness of plants. Fertilizers enhance the natural fertility of the soil or replace the chemical elements taken from the soil by previous crops. 
Fertilizers enhance the growth of plants. This goal is met in two ways, the traditional one being additives that provide nutrients. The second mode by which some fertilisers act is to enhance the effectiveness of the soil by modifying its water retention and aeration.
Fertilizers typically provide, in varying proportions three main macronutrients: 
Nitrogen (N): leaf growth
Phosphorus (P): Development of roots, flowers, seeds, fruit
Potassium (K): Strong stem growth, movement of water in plants, promotion of flowering and fruiting
Three secondary Macronutrients: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulphur (S)
Micronutrients: copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), zinc (Zn), boron (B), and of occasional significance there are silicon (Si), cobalt (Co), and vanadium (V) plus rare mineral catalysts.

Types of Fertilizers 
1. Nitrogenous Fertilizers: The nitrogenous fertilizers are divided into four groups — nitrate, ammonia and ammonium salts, chemical compounds containing nitrogen in the amide form, and plant and animal byproducts. Major varieties are Sodium Nitrate, Ammonium Sulphate, Ammonium Nitrate, Ammonium Sulphate Nitrate, Ammonium Chloride, Urea, Calcium Ammonium Sulphate 
2. Organic Nitrogenous Fertilizers: These fertilizers include plant and animal by-products, such as oil cakes, fish manure etc.. Before use by the crops these materials are converted by bacterial fermentation into utilizable ammonium-nitrogen and nitrate-nitrogen.
3. Phosphate Fertilizers: Phosphate fertilizers are classified as natural phosphates, treated phosphates, by-product phosphates and chemical phosphates. Major varieties are Rock Phosphate, Super Phosphate, Basic Slag, Bone-Meal 
4. Potassic Fertilizers: In India most of the soils contain sufficient amount of potash. Potassic fertilizers are used as muriate of potash (potassium chloride)and sulphate of potash (potassium sulphate). 
5. Compound  Fertilizers: These fertilizers contain two or three plant nutrients simultaneously. When both nitrogen and phosphorus are deficient in soil, a compound fertilizer, e.g., amorphous, can be used.
6. Complete Fertilizers (NPK): mixtures containing all the three principal nutrients (N, P and K) are called complete fertilizers as most soils usually remain deficient in these three elements.

Print Friendly and PDF