- Crops require the right mix of three nutrients viz. nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium or NPK (N helps in plant growth and development, P not only accelerates blooming and the growth of roots but also helps plants to withstand stress and K helps the process of photosynthesis and is essential to plant growth).
- Imbalanced use of N, P and K leads to the loss of fertility of the soil over a period of time, which affects efficiency of fertilizer use and crop productivity.
- In India, urea (a nitrogen based fertiliser) is the most commonly used fertiliser because it is highly subsidised. The excessive use of nitrogenous fertilisers has led to an imbalanced use of fertilisers in India.
- It is evident from the fact that the current ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N:P:K) in agricultural soil in several states is skewed towards nitrogen. For instance, while the desirable ratio of N-P-K application is 4:2:1, it is 31.4:8:1 in Punjab.
- This imbalance causes problems, right from stagnating or declining productivity to soil sickness, widespread deficiency of secondary nutrients and micronutrients, and soil alkalinity and salinity. Eventually, it results in reduced efficiency of fertilisers, low yields and low profitability for farmers.
About NBS Scheme
- In order to promote balanced fertilization of soil, Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) programme for fertilizer was initiated in 2010.
- Under the scheme, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on each grade of subsidized Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers based on its nutrient content.
- The scheme aims at ensuring balanced nutrient application to the soil.
- It also aims at improving agricultural productivity and promoting the growth of the indigenous fertilizers industry.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Department of Fertilizers under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
Why in the News?
- The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for fixing the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rates for Rabi Season 2023-24 (from 01.10.2023 to 31.03.2024) on Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers.