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What is Stubble Burning?


Recently, the Delhi government announced that it would spray Pusa bio-decomposer free of cost over 5,000 acres of paddy fields in the city as this would help in controlling stubble burning and air pollution during winter.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Pusa Bio-Decomposer
  2. What is stubble burning?
  3. Effects of Stubble Burning:

About Pusa Bio-Decomposer

  • It is essentially a fungi-based liquid solution that can soften hard stubble to the extent that it can be easily mixed with soil in the field to act as compost.
  • The fungi thrive at 30-32 degree Celsius, which is the temperature prevailing when paddy is harvested and wheat is sown.
  • It produce enzymes to digest cellulose, lignin and pectin in paddy straw.
  • It is developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and named after ICAR’s campus at Pusa in Delhi,
  • It rapidly converts crop residues, animal waste, dung and other waste into organic manure.
  • It is an inexpensive and effective technology for agricultural waste and crop residue management.
  • The decomposer improves the fertility and productivity of the soil as the stubble works as manure and compost for the crops and lesser fertiliser consumption is required in the future.
  • The soil loses its richness due to stubble burning and it also destroys the useful bacteria and fungi in the soil, apart from causing harm to the environment.
  • It is an efficient and effective, cheaper, doable and practical technique to stop stubble burning.
  • It is an eco-friendly and environmentally useful technology and will contribute to achieve Swachh Bharat Mission.

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.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023