In developing countries like India where agriculture is the backbone of economy, soil health analysis becomes the most important aspect of overall growth.
Soil health is presented as an integrative property that reflects the capacity of soil to respond to agricultural intervention, so that it continues to support both the agricultural production and the provision of other ecosystem services. The major challenge within sustainable soil management is to conserve ecosystem service delivery while optimizing agricultural yields. It is proposed that soil health is dependent on the maintenance of four major functions: carbon transformations; nutrient cycles, soil structure maintenance and the regulation of pests and diseases.
Soil testing is an important diagnostic tool for determining the nutrient needs of plants and for environmental assessments. Some soils are inherently deficient in plant nutrients. Other soils had sufficient levels of nutrients in the past, but crop harvest has depleted those reserves.
Soils are tested routinely for the primary nutrients phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and nitrogen (N). In some regions, soils are also routinely tested for other primary nutrients such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S), and for other nutrients required in very small amounts by crops such as boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), and zinc (Zn). Soils receiving waste materials are also tested for elements such as arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and selenium (Se) among others.
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