Soil testing is currently a time-consuming process in India. So by the time that the farmers get the results, they have already added fertilisers to the soil so they can sow seeds on time.
“This results in plant degradation and loss of productivity,” says Dr Rajul Patkar, CEO and co-founder of Pune-based Proximal Soilsens Technologies.
She informs that farmers have to send a sample to an agriculture lab, which takes at least 15 days to show results.
“We have 14 crore farmers in India, but we hardly have 3,000 labs for soil testing,” she adds.
To address this problem and increase awareness among farmers about soil testing, the IIT Bombay researcher and scientist, along with colleague Dr Mukul Singh, developed a soil testing device.
Called NutriSens, they claim the device is the world’s smallest soil testing system, which is portable, affordable, and easy to use.
It comes with paper-based sensor strips to check six parameters like PH, electrical conductivity, nitrate, phosphate, and potassium.
Explaining how the device works, Dr Rajul says, “Prepare a sample using one gram of soil, put an agent solution of 3 ml in a small vial and shake it.”
“Leave it for about half an hour for the soil to settle until the clear solution appears. Put a drop of solution on the sensor.”
And that’s it. “We get the results in less than five minutes for all six parameters. It takes 25–30 seconds to measure each parameter,” she adds.
Thereafter, the soil health card is generated, which can be downloaded instantly on mobile phones.
The device is also expected to reduce the cost of soil testing from Rs 500 at a private lab to Rs 300.
After the successful pilot commercialisation of the device in several states including Assam, Gujarat, and Jharkhand, Dr Rajul aims to expand its usage across the country.
“This is a quantum leap in technology. Every rural household should have this soil testing device so that it helps boost their soil health and crop yield,” she says.