This paper investigates the possibility of using public works to stimulate farmers' fertiliser use in India's SAT. Inadequate replenishment of removed nutrients and organic matter has reduced fertility and increased erosion rates. Fertiliser use, along with other complementary measures, can help reverse this process, which ultimately leads to poverty, hunger, and further environmental degradation. In a high-risk environment like India's SAT, there may be a strong relation between off-farm income and smallholder fertiliser use. Farmers can use the main source of off-farm income, wage income, to manage risk as well as to finance inputs. Consequently, the introduction of public works programmes in areas with high dry-season unemployment may affect fertiliser use. This study confirms the relevance of risk for decisions regarding fertiliser use in two Indian villages. Nevertheless, governments cannot use employment policies to stimulate fertiliser use. Public works even decrease fertiliser use in the survey setting.