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Straw Management System to Save Environment from Air Pollution

Super Straw Management System is now mandatory in Punjab while using the combine harvester machines for harvesting paddy (rice) crop to check the dangerous trend of stubble burning and to save environment from air pollution. Issuing the instructions, on Monday 12 February 2018, under section 31 A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, Punjab Pollution Control Board chairman K.S. Pannu said that Punjab has been declared air pollution control area and added that, “Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, has also recommended that super straw management system be attached to self-propelled combine harvesters, which cuts the paddy straw into small pieces and spread the same. With this method, farmers are not required to burn paddy straw before sowing the next crop”.

Straw Management System (SMS) attached to combine harvesters enables the machine to shred the straw in small pieces and scatter it behind the tail of the machine. It saves time and diesel, used in baler, mulcher or chopper machines. The small scattered pieces of straw after harvesting help in retaining moisture for a longer period, as they get mixed in the soil. It also helps in checking the burning of crop residue by farmers as they are able to sow wheat using a ‘Happy Seeder’ without having to bury the residue to clear the fields.

‘Happy Seeder’, developed in last few years can plant the wheat seed without getting jammed by the rice straw. Happy Seeder is a cost-effective, tractor-mounted machine that cuts and lifts rice straw, sows wheat into the bare soil, and deposits the straw over the sown area as mulch. Happy Seeder is a zero tillage technology that helps farmers save, on average, Rs. 1,000/ha by cultivating plots.

Economic Survey 2017-18 tabled in Parliament on 29 January, 2018 by the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley had expressed concern over air pollution in Delhi with the onset of winter due to crop residue biomass burning, besides other factors; and notes the use of technology to convert agricultural waste into usable fodder or bio-fuels and provide incentives to shift to non-paddy crops and as a point in case quotes the straw management system for rice and wheat farming, as an example. It suggests that the solution is to address each source problem systematically, coordination between agencies and Central and State Governments and sustained civic engagement.  It also mentions the Happy Seeder machine that sows seeds without removing paddy straw and suggests that such a technological solution must be combined with economics, by providing incentives to Centre and states and should be implemented through agricultural cooperatives and local bodies.

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