Ye gods! The Indian portion of the "green revolution" is coming to pieces because the dung-brained socialists running the Indian agricultural ministry trapped themselves in a urea subsidy trap, and their farmers are uneducated enough that they think they can power through broad-spectrum nutrient deficiencies via over-fertilizing with urea.
For those of you without a passing acquaintance with basic farming, let me assure you - this is so basic it's almost a truism: nitrogen fertilizer can only address nitrogen deficiencies in a soil. You can't hose down a field with nitrogen & expect good results if your field is sulfur or phosphorus deficient. The only thing that over-fertilizing with nitrogen does is *burn the field*. And pollute the downstream drainage with runoff - really badly, too.
I don't even know how they're seeing any sort of boost by doing so, let alone what the article's quoted farmers claim. I wonder if it's some sort of placebo reporting effect? Maybe there's something I've never heard about that might explain what's going on there - I'm not exactly an agronomist - but it violates everything I thought I knew about Liebig's Barrel.
This is a classic example of the poisonous power of anti-market forces upon the environment. A subsidy imposed for political effect results eventually in ruined farms, environmental devastation, declining yields, and bankrupted farmers, all at taxpayer expense; let's not even talk about the primary market disruptions. Government intervention driving mal-investments, inefficiencies, and pollution. Ain't the anti-market wonderful?
Update: I asked a guy here at work, and he says that since burning a field with excessive nitrogen can sterilize the soil (and thus destroy the organic matter & microculture), increasing nitrogen usage can to some degree replace the nitrogen-fixing that organic matter & microfauna would normally have contributed to crop growth. So, basically, the farmers who were seeing marginal increases in yield returns with very heavy urea usage had already "killed" their fields, and are now essentially growing on dead soil.