Mains Practice Question


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What is balanced fertilisation? Discuss the importance of neem coated urea.



A Simple Introduction about balanced fertilisation

Balanced fertilization involves providing nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potash in the right ratio according to the specific needs of the soil and crops. Encouraging farmers to adopt balanced fertilization practices is a key policy goal for the government, as it discourages the excessive use of urea, di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), or muriate of potash (MOP), which are rich in primary nutrients.

Urea consumption reached a record high of 35.8 million tonnes (mt) in the fiscal year ending March 2024, marking a significant increase of 16.9% from 30.6 mt in 2013-14. The usage of urea, which contains 46% nitrogen (N), actually declined between 2016-17 and 2017-18, mainly due to the compulsory coating of all urea with neem oil introduced in May 2015.



You may incorporate some of the following points in the body of your answer:

Fertilizers serve as essential nutrients for crops, providing the vital elements necessary for robust plant growth and optimal grain yields. Balanced fertilization entails the judicious supply of primary nutrients (Nitrogen-N, Phosphorus-P, and Potassium-K), secondary nutrients (Sulfur-S, Calcium, Magnesium), and micronutrients (Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Boron, Molybdenum) in appropriate proportions tailored to soil characteristics and the specific requirements of crops at various growth stages.

Neem-Coated Urea

In 2015, the Government of India embarked on a transformative initiative to introduce 100% neem coating on all subsidized agricultural-grade urea across the nation.

Key Features of Neem-Coated Urea:

  • Neem oil, utilized for coating urea, contains approximately 150 ppm (parts per million) of azadirachtin, a crucial active component. Azadirachtin shares a benzene ring structure akin to chlorobenzene, a compound commonly found in transformer or cutting oils.
  • The primary objective of neem coating is to prevent the illicit diversion of heavily subsidized urea for non-agricultural purposes, such as plywood production, dye manufacturing, livestock feed supplementation, and synthetic milk production.
  • Neem oil's minor nitrification inhibitory properties enable a gradual release of nitrogen, leading to enhanced nitrogen utilization efficiency. This results in reduced urea bag requirements per acre, contributing to sustainable agricultural practices.
The ending of the answer should be on a positive note and it should have a forward-looking approach.

The nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) system, launched in April 2010, aimed to improve fertilizer practices. It did this by fixing a per-kg subsidy for key nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and sulfur (S). This linked fertilizer subsidies directly to their nutrient content.


Other Points to Consider 

Nutrient-based subsidy



Previous Year Questions

1. What are the direct and indirect subsidies provided to farm sector in India? Discuss the issues raised by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in relation to agricultural subsidies. (2023)
2. Explain various types of revolutions, took place in Agriculture after Independence in India. How these revolutions have helped in poverty alleviation and food security in India? (2017)


21-May 2024