Agriculture and Farming Technology Updates

How stubble is a boon for the soil and crops?

Stubble can give relief from many problems


Air pollution is increasing every year due to stubble burning. The farmer is forced to burn the stubble for sowing the next crop. Stubble means the root and crop residue left in the field after harvesting paddy and other crops, which needs to be cleaned before the second sowing. Management of crop residues is also a serious problem in our country. In such a situation, scientists are making new discoveries every day so that by proper management of stubble and other crop residues, the environment can be saved from harm. It can be used in many other ways to get rid of the problem of stubble. It can be used for making fertilizers, organic farming and making electricity.

Straw made organic fertilizer 

Excellent organic fertilizer can be prepared from crop residues. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi has developed an aerogenic method for composting. In this method, a pile of waste is turned over by an agricultural machine, so that compost can be prepared quickly through high speed of bio-decomposition and air circulation. Before turning the pile of residues, sufficient moisture is ensured in it and then it is turned 3-4 times. This manure gets ready in 3-4 months and its color becomes like that of tea leaves. Its use increases soil fertility and also improves the quality of the crop.

alternatives to tackle stubble burning
Image credit: ICAR

Use in conservation agriculture 

About 30 percent of crop residues can be used in conservation agriculture. Actually, in this type of farming, the residues of the previous crop are spread over the soil and tilled it is mixed with the soil. Super phosphate can also be used for quick dissolution. Mixing it in the soil increases the nutrients of the soil. It has also been proved by many research that recycling of wheat straw, cotton stalk, dry sugarcane leaves, paddy straw etc. in some quantity in the field itself increases soil fertility.

Mushroom production 

Paddy straw and wheat straw are used in mushroom production. Mushrooms are not grown in soil, rather they are grown on crop residues. The use of agricultural residues in mushroom production solves a major problem of their management.

alternatives to tackle stubble burning
Image Credit: bbi.europa

Energy and Industrial use 

You might be surprised to know that more than 17,000 MW of electricity can be generated in the country by using crop residues. In Punjab, Biomass Power Limited has built a power plant running on paddy straw. This company is running a 12 MW plant in Patiala. Crop residues and sugar cane juice can be used to generate energy, and crop residues can also be used in the paper industry.

Crop residues can be used as mulch in both vacant land or crops. In standing crop, crop residues are used when the plants are about 8-10 cm in height. Plant residues should be spread evenly between the crop rows. In this process, 4 tonnes of straw per hectare is sufficient. Straw of paddy, wheat, barley, jowar, millet etc. and maize, pigeon pea, coconut and banana dry leaves, dry grass etc. can be used as mulch by spreading crop residues between the crop rows.

Straw used as mulch 

The use of crop residues as mulch can prevent the loss of water that evaporates from the soil and crop. Weeds can be controlled and soil temperature can also be controlled. Due to the use of crop residues as mulch, even the bright sunlight does not come in direct contact with the soil. It helps in retaining the moisture in the soil. With this, crop plants can grow easily and the water capacity of the soil also increases. 

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