Agitation by the farmers of Punjab increased after the complete ban of burning paddy straw by Government. In Punjab, 220 lakh tonnes paddy straw is produced annually and a large portion is being burnt by the farmers.
The main reason behind this ban, harmful impact of paddy straw burning on environment and soil conditions. Due to paddy straw burning poisonous gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and nitric oxide are produced which are harmful to human and animal health.
According to the Punjab Agricultural University with one tonne of paddy, burning causes loss of 400 kg organic carbon, 5.5 kg of N, 2.3 kg of P, 25 kg of K and 1.2 kg of S.
Farmer’s reason behind the burning of paddy straw is less time between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat. If they manage paddy according to recommendations given by the government, it impacts on the yield of wheat. It is also costly to manage the paddy straw, due to the higher price of paddy straw management machinery.
Recommended management of paddy straw
- Wheat sowing with happy seeder: Happy seeder is recommended to sow wheat in combine harvest paddy field without any straw burning. It is a PTO driven machine operated by 45 HP tractor and it covers about 0.75-0.80 acre per hour. The loose straw needs to be spread uniformly in the field for the proper working of Happy Seeder.
- Incorporation: Chop the straw and stubbles with Paddy Straw Chopper cum Spreader after combine harvesting of paddy. The chopped straw can be mixed into the soil with rotary tillers after applying a light irrigation. The field comes in water condition in 2-3 weeks depending on type soil. Sow wheat seed with zero till drill or with a conventional drill.
- Power Generation: Seven biomass power plants have been established in Punjab for the generation of electricity from Paddy straw bales. Heat produced by burning paddy straw is used to run the steam turbine which further generates electricity.
- Paddy Straw based biogas plant: Paddy straw can be used in a specially designed biogas plant for biogas production. This biogas plant is filled one time with 16 quintals chopped paddy straw along with 4-5 quintal cattle dung and it provides 6-7 m2 biogas daily for 3-4 months.
- Paddy Straw Geyser: A geyser has been developed by the PAU for heating water by using paddy straw bales. In this geyser, about 100 liters of water can be heated to 45-50 degree C in 3-4 hours. The water once filled in geyser remains hot for up to 24 hours or even more.
- Phospo-compost: Phospho-compost can be prepared from the paddy straw
- Prali Char: Prali Char is a carbon-rich porous product obtained after the partial combustion of rice straw at low temperatures in the presence of little or no oxygen. It can be prepared in a pyramid or dome type kiln, made up of bricks and clay. To prepare 8 quintals of Prali Char from 12 quintals of rice straw, the height of this dome should be 14 ft. with 10 ft diameter. Two windows each at the top and at bottom of the kiln are provided for lading of paddy straw. Six vents of 2 inch diameter in the upper portion and eight vents are provided at three heights on the remaining portion of the structure. Fill the kiln with rice straw up to top. Seal the lower loading window and ignite the straw from the top lading window and immediately seal it with clay. The partial combustion of rice straw will start from the top and proceeds towards the bottom. The emission of thin blue smoke from the vents indicates that the process of Prali Char formation is complete in this zone. To facilitate the combustion in the next zone, seal the vents located in the upper portion of the dome and likewise proceed to seal the vents of the middle and lower zone, respectively. The whole process usually takes about 10-12 hours. To seal the cracks develped during combustion and to cool the kiln, pour a diluted mixture of clay and water on the outer surface of the kiln. Normally it takes about two days to cool, however it can be cooled by sprinkling water for removing the Prali Char on the same day. On an average, it contains 30-36% carbon, 0.5-0.6% nitrogen, 0.16-0.22% phosphorus and 1.6-2.2% potassium. Its application to rice and wheat @ 2.0 t/acre saves 16 kg N (35 urea), increases crop productivity and improves soil health.
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