Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi
Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana,India
 Sponsored by
Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi
Research Content
Impact of Neem-Coated Urea on Production, Productivity and Soil Health in Punjab

Punjab state is known for advent of green revolution in India but with the passage of time, the rice-wheat cropping system resulted in development of various agro-ecological problems. The excessive use of chemical fertilizers is one such issue which needs urgent attention in spite of the fact that the chemical fertilizers are the important source of nutrients for plant growth. From the year May, 2015 the entire production of urea has been converted as neem coated urea (NCU) to check its misuse in industries and benefits accrued in terms of increased production of crops. The present study was undertaken with the objectives; to analyze the trends in usage and prices of Urea versus NCU in Punjab, to analyze the adoption behavior of NCU among selected farmers in irrigated tracts, to analyze the impact of adoption of NCU on crop productivity and farmers' income, to document the status and implementation of soil health card scheme and to suggest suitable policy measures for adoption of NCU. The data were collected from randomly selected 200 farmers from four blocks of Ludhiana and Patiala districts where paddy is a major kharif crop which requires adequate doses of urea for its growth. The results of the study revealed that the consumption/ sale of urea in Punjab during the year 2007-08 was 2646.44 th. MT which rose to 3086.05 th. MT during the period 2007-08 to 2015-16 at an annual growth rate of 1.64 per cent. The urea prices increased significantly at the highest growth of 5.21 per cent per annum during the decade 1990-91 to 1999-2000 while during the period 1980-81 to 2015-16 the growth in urea prices was 3.33 per cent per annum. The analysis of the primary data revealed that the majority of the respondent farmers purchased NCU and NU from co-operative societies followed by private fertilizer dealers while the cost per bag of NCU, including transportation cost, worked out to be Rs. 289.69 while it was Rs. 276.58 per bag in case of NU. There was marginal increase in the productivity of paddy crop during the year 2015-16 as compared to the year 2014-15, however, it can’t only be attributed to the application of NCU because there are numerous factors influencing the yield of a crop The net returns per acre were estimated to be Rs. 31401 during the year 2015-16 and Rs. 29530 in 2014-15. As far as awareness about NCU was concerned, almost all the selected farmers were aware about the NCU and major source of awareness was co-operative societies. The major sign from which respondent farmers differentiated NCU from NU was leaf figure on bag. There was a significant increase in the application of NCU after 2015-16 in crops such as; paddy, wheat, basmati, sugarcane, potato, maize, sunflower and vegetables. Due to the application of NCU, only 5.29 per cent farmers reported about the increase in paddy yield while the cost of pest and disease control declined by 21 per cent. All the respondent farmers reported no decline in the cost of other fertilizers, improvement in the soil health, quality of grain and market acceptability of grains due to the application of NCU. Majority of the farmers reported about the quality of NCU being good, adequate, timely available, accessible in the market, its non-solidification and evenly distribution at the time of application being good points. It was found that none of the selected farmers reported about the use of NCU for other purposes such as; silage making, mixing with weedicides and for fishery feed preparation. There was increase in productivity of paddy crop where neem coated urea (NCU) was applied on the sample farms. Also, the NCU usage on the sample farms increased while cost of pest and disease control measures declined. The partial budgeting technique brought out that there were added returns of Rs. 718 per acre by application of NCU on the sample farms. It was also revealed by all the respondents that there was no change in the texture of the soil, soil moisture retention capacity, water infiltration rate, soil softness and decline in the compaction of the soil due to application of NCU but there was higher retention of nitrate in the soil and thereby its slow release to the crop. High price of NCU, inadequate/ shortage of supply during peak season and poor quality of NCU in some of the co-operative societies were the major problems reported by the respondents. Major suggestions were; assured/ timely and adequate supply of NCU to co-operative societies and organising training camps for spreading awareness. The information on soil health card revealed that only five farmers, out of 45 farmers who got their soils tested, received soil test report/ soil health card. It was found that 8.89 per cent of the sample farmers, who tested their soils, got information about soil testing from Agriculture Department. The most important reason of soil testing, as revealed by 31.11 per cent farmers, was ‘to understand fertilizer requirement for the crop’ while most important reason for not testing soil by 72.26 per cent farmers was that ‘soil testing not required for my field as crop yield is good’. It was observed that 91.11 per cent of the farmers, who got their soils tested, were not aware about the recommended dose of fertilizers (RDF) for paddy crop but were applying fertilizers based on their own perception while just 8.89 per cent of the farmers were actually aware about RDF on the basis of soil test report. Major problems faced in soil testing by the farmers was proper reports not being delivered and poor extension services while important suggestions were to deliver the soil health card on time and organizing awareness camps regarding soil testing. Major policy issue suggested was to lay emphasis on ensuring good quality, adequate quantity and timely supply of NCU along with bringing its price at par with NU. Besides, organising training camps for educating the farmers about benefits of soil testing and involving Gram panchayats in soil testing campaigns can be a few steps for better implementation of SHC scheme.