Land scarcity is a formidable challenge in fast-changing India as competing demands from various sectors are exerting increasing pressure mostly on cultivated lands. Ensuring food security for the second most populous country in the world with declining soil and water resources requires scientific and optimum utilization of these finite resources. It is thus essential to assess the bio-physical resources, socio-economic factors, institutional and legal framework and empower the people to make decisions about how to allocate these resources. Needless to state that there is an urgent need to prepare a high-resolution land resource inventory of the country through systematic soil surveys, and collect collateral data for land use planning using the latest geo-spatial techniques, remote sensing technologies, and computational capabilities/artificial intelligence.
Demand for soil information/data is increasing as development agencies demand quick data supply for timely and informed decisions on site-specific crop planning, nutrient management, soil and water conservation, forest management, groundwater management, and many other development efforts. Since the generation of such large-scale information is time- consuming and resource intensive, the ICAR-NBSS&LUP has developed a hybrid methodology that relies on modern tools to hasten the pace of soil survey data acquisition while preserving the essence of traditional soil surveys. The operating protocol involves a sequence of steps starting from the acquisition and processing of satellite data, preparing a sampling plan that minimizes the number of profiles to be studied/samples to be collected while capturing maximum soil variability, systematic soil survey, laboratory analysis and modeling for depth-wise soil characterization, to generation of agricultural land use and soil & water conservation plans.
Land resource inventory of the country is shortly expected to serve as a backbone of policy decisions in different domains like real-time soil moisture estimation and monitoring, providing spatial information for contingency planning in rainfed agriculture, crop management, developing climate resilient technologies, groundwater governance and management, etc. During the next 5 years, 25-30 districts of India will be enriched with different soil data products for managing natural resources. ICAR-NBSS&LUP is also committed to supporting federal agencies in their varied tasks like developing crop colonies, watershed management, promoting specific crops, carbon sequestration, etc. Being the only research and development entity in the country, ICAR-NBSS&LUP will also continue to strive for the development of human resources across the country in the field of soil survey and land use planning.