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STUBBLE BURNING: DO WE HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE?

A drift of apprehensiveness carries away the large populace during the time of winter as a dramatic sentiment towards the pollution becomes a hurried concern of all. The fire of annihilation is not much talked about in the remnant stretch of the year. But are we centred to just being worrisome towards our environment or are we accountable to make a difference?

The unfortunate plight of farmers arises and heaps up as a major concern for everyone during the time of winter when new crops are to be sowed. The plausible solutions researched and elucidated can only be implemented before it is time to blow of the crop residues.

A FARMER'S ORDEAL

The considerable unbeknown losses faced by farmers at the scaling heights also come with the aggravated environmental mayhem causing countless diseases and other destruct.

Why does a farmer have to take this step? What are the whacking consequences?

Harvesting emerges with a tremendous quantity of straw left as crop residue, which has to be weeded out. If it is left in the field, pests such as termites may attack the new crop. The economic condition of farmers that stays at the verge of decline doesn't permit them to harness expensive machines for the removal of stubble. Their fundamental premise is to rely upon cheapest methods so they prefer burning residue and pay the penalty issued upon them rather than spending the exceeding handful amount for weeding out the stubbles as it costs as low as one-fourth of the otherwise expenditure per acre.

The Government incentives do not mark up to the costs borne by the farmers and the schemes turn out to be major failures. Neither does the stubble extend any economic value to them or does it have any nutritional value to be utilized as fodder.

THE HAZARDING DATA OF CROP RESIDUES PRODUCED ANNUALLY

India on an average generates 500 million tonnes of crop residues annually. Cereal crops reckon 70% of the total crop residue which is as good as 362 Mt, of which 34% generates from rice and 22% from wheat crops, most of which is set ablaze on farm. The surplus residue quantifies an estimation between 84 million and 141 million tonnes a year,

Toxic gases like sulphur oxide, carbon dioxide impact the environment. The smog from these fields travels impacts health of a large populace. It also causes damage to other microorganisms present in the upper layer of the soil as well as its organic quality.

On local as well as regional and global levels, severe pollution of land and water is caused due to burning of crops. Burning of paddy straw estimates annual nutrient loss of 3.85 Mt of organic carbon, 59,000 tonnes of nitrogen, 20,000 tonnes of phosphorus, and 34,000 tonnes of potassium which can be efficacious resource for the farming sector.

CROP RESIDUE: A PRECIOUS COMMODITY

Stubble can be utilized to prepare high-graded organic fertilizers with natural enzymes.

The total amount of potassium, phosphorous, nitrogen and sulphur present in the crop residues burnt annually in Northwest India is around 700,000 tonnes, valued at Rs 1,000 crore.

Along with these nutrients, organic carbon is also depredated during stubble burning.

All these nutrients, if consentaneously utilized in organic manures, can slacken the risk of cancer by reducing the levels of carcinogens caused by chemical fertilizers in soil.

The residue could compliment economic strength and it needs planning to turn out as an income generator for farmers and energy for industries.

Paddy straw can be used to produce ethanol, making cardboards and other packing material, can be used for Bio-CNG.

The burning is contemplated to be the easiest and economical option for management and removal of the stubble. Farmers have carried a firm belief about burning the residue as a good attribute for soil health as well.

This lack of awareness and non-availability of appropriate technologies waits upon one more year of distress and it impacts the health of nation.

THE WAY BEYOND SUBSTITUTES

Efficacy of technology is unquestionable. But what causes the denial in implementation? Campaigns howling about pollution, governmental expansion of schemes, establishment of farm machinery banks, financial incentives, all go to vain.

Subsidies for farmers might work not so well. For a precise call, subsidizing for irrigation and nitrogen fertilizers could be an inaccurate move, says expert.

Subsidizing machines at village levels or renting it to them at cheaper rates can help farmers go other way without looking much at the expenditure. It would build up soil health, debilitate shooting up pollution, create a financial resource and build up a stronger nation.


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