PUSA Bio-decomposer Solution is a solution developed by the scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa. It was sprayed on around 2,000 acres of land in Delhi
Farmers across Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh usually harvest paddy in October via mechanised combine harvesters, which leaves behind stubble. The farmers then set fire to the stubble to clear land for the next crop.
During the onset of winter, the stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh leads to a spike in air pollution in the national capital. This leads to the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi often plunging to ‘severe’ and ‘hazardous’ categories.
The decomposers are in the form of capsules made by extracting fungi strains that help the paddy straw to decompose at a much faster rate than usual.
- The fungi help to produce the essential enzymes for the degradation process.
- It involves making a liquid formulation using decomposer capsules and fermenting it over 8-10 days and then spraying the mixture on fields with crop stubble to ensure speedy bio-decompositionof the stubble.
- The farmers can prepare 25 litres of liquid mixture with 4 capsules, jaggery and chickpea flour. The mixture is sufficient to cover 1 hectare of land.
- Time to Decompose:
- It takes around 20 days for the degradation process to be completed.
- It does not give enough time for farmers to prepare fields for the wheat crop on time.
Advantages of PUSA Bio-decomposer:
- Where the PUSA Bio-decomposer was sprayed, very little urea as fertiliser was used and absolutely no potash. Usually around four bags of fertiliser are necessary for an acre of land.
- The bio-decomposer helps improve soil fertility and reduces the need for extensive ploughing to mix stubble with soil.
- It is an efficient and effective, cheaper, doable and practical technique to stop stubble burning.
- It is an eco-friendly and environmentally useful technology.
Problems with Stubble Burning:
1.A study estimates that crop residue burning released 149.24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), over 9 million tonnes of carbon monoxide (CO), 0.25 million tonnes of oxides of sulphur (SOX), 1.28 million tonnes of particulate matter and 0.07 million tonnes of black carbon. These directly contribute to environmental pollution, and are also responsible for the haze in Delhi and melting of Himalayan glaciers.
2.The heat from burning paddy straw penetrates 1 centimetre into the soil, elevating the temperature to 33.8 to 42.2 degree Celsius. This kills the bacterial and fungal populations critical for a fertile soiL
3.Around 84.5 per cent people were found suffering from health problems due to increased incidence of smog. These were irritation in eyes, irritation in nose, and irritation in throat.
4.Experts have also pointed out that worsening air quality can make the Covid-19 pandemic deadlier. A recent study cited a direct link between 30 per cent of the total Covid deaths in the world and air pollution.
Other Alternatives to Stubble Burning:
Alternatives to Stubble Burning
- Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine: One such method is using a 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.
- In-situ treatment of stubble: The government is currently giving equipment to farmers to mix the stubble back into the soil so that they do not have to burn it.
- Ex-situ treatment: Under this, some companies have started collecting stubble for their use, but we need more action on this front.
- Changing cropping pattern: It is the deeper and more fundamental solution.
- Subsidise crops other than paddy, the source of most stubble burning. Policy and money should incentivise farmers in the region to plant more fruits and vegetables. India needs more vitamins and protein rather than wheat and rice.” This will create more greenery and since vegetable and fruit crops don’t leave stubble, it’ll bring down the number of open fires.