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Bio-Decomposer for Stubble Burning in Delhi


Recently, the Delhi Government has initiated the spraying of a Bio-Decomposer to tackle Stubble Burning. However, the effectiveness of the microbial solution largely depends on its timing of application, according to farmers.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is stubble burning?
  2. Bio-Decomposer to Address Stubble Burning

What is stubble burning?

  • Stubble burning is intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested. The practice was widespread until the 1990s, when governments increasingly restricted its use.
  • The burning of stubble, contrasted with alternatives such as ploughing the stubble back into the ground or collecting it for industrial uses, has a number of consequences and effects on the environment.
Effects of Stubble Burning:

Helpful effects

  • Kills slugs and other pests
  • Can reduce nitrogen tie-up

Harmful effects

  • Loss of nutrients
  • Pollution from smoke
  • Damage to electrical and electronic equipment from floating threads of conducting waste
  • Risk of fires spreading out of control
  • The main adverse effects of crop residue burning include the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contributes to the global warming, increased levels of particulate matter (PM) and smog that cause health hazards, loss of biodiversity of agricultural lands, and the deterioration of soil fertility
Alternatives to Stubble Burning:
  • In-Situ Treatment of Stubble: For example, crop residue management by zero-tiller machine and Use of bio-decomposers.
  • Ex-Situ (off-site) Treatment: For example, Use of rice straw as cattle fodder.
  • Use of Technology– For example Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine, which can uproot the stubble and also sow seeds in the area cleared. The stubble can then be used as mulch for the field.

Bio-Decomposer to Address Stubble Burning

  • A bio-decomposer is developed to expedite the natural decomposition of crop residues.
  • Typically, it comprises a mixture of various microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria, and enzymes working together to break down plant material into enriching organic matter for the soil.
Examples of Microorganisms:
  • Bacteria: Bacillus, Clostridium, E. coli, Salmonella
  • Fungi: Mushrooms, Molds, Yeasts
  • Other Organisms: Earthworms, Insects (Beetles, Flies, Ants, Maggots), Arthropods (Millipedes, Woodlice)
  • Pusa-Biodecomposer is a fungi-based liquid solution designed to soften tough crop residues, making them easily mixable with soil to act as compost.
  • The fungi thrive at temperatures around 30-32 degrees Celsius, coinciding with the conditions during paddy harvesting and wheat sowing.
  • It produces enzymes that break down cellulose, lignin, and pectin in paddy straw.
  • Developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and named after ICAR’s Pusa campus in Delhi.
  • Besides crop residues, it rapidly converts animal waste, dung, and other waste into organic manure.
  • Enhances soil fertility and crop productivity by turning stubble into manure and reducing the need for future fertilizer use.
  • An efficient, cost-effective, and practical solution to combat stubble burning.
  • Environmentally friendly, aligning with the Swachh Bharat Mission’s goals.
Efficacy and Considerations:
  • Application of the microbial solution is aimed at decomposing paddy straw left in the field post-harvest.
  • It requires spraying after harvest, plowing into the soil, and light irrigation over 20-25 days for effective decomposition.
  • Timely application aligning with the harvest is crucial for maximizing its effectiveness.
  • Various factors such as crop rotation, labor availability, and crop type impact its relevance for farmers.
  • Weather conditions, particularly rain during September and October, play a role in its application and effectiveness.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023