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Farmers are Using Paddy Residue for Greener Agriculture

Karnal/Ludhiana: In Haryana's Karnal district, the young farmer uses the straw as an input for future crops. Even as the new wheat crop grows, the old residue sits in the field enriching the soil, conserving water, nourishing the new plants and creating conditions for decreased use of fertilisers.

Farmers in Haryana and Punjab are using paddy residue for greener agriculture. Experts says that the technology has existed for years, ut recent improvements have made it a more viable and scalable solution to the vexed problem of stubble-burning. It registered an estimated four-fold increase this season, which is still less than 2% of the area under rice cultivation in northwest India.

The technology in question is a combination of Happy Seeder and straw spreader (straw management system or SMS) for rice-wheat farming. The Happy Seeder machine is developed by Ludhiana's Punjab Agricultural University and this machine sows seeds without the need to till the field or remove paddy straw. It works best when the straw is spread evenly on the field through the SMS device attached to a combine harvester.

According to estimates by the international non-profit research body, Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA), the use of Happy Seeders increased almost four times this sowing season over the previous year, with an estimated 75,000 hectare coming under it in Punjab and Haryana.

Despite the strides, the technology is not catching on fast enough to make a significant dent in stubble-burning. Even after rising concerns and a crackdown on crop-burning, the area under Happy Seeders this season was just around 1.7% of the 4.3 million hectares under rice cultivation in Punjab, Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh.

Experts say these technologies, including the reversible plough (for potato and vegetable farming after rice crop), need to be further incentivised and a major push needs to come from the Centre and state governments well ahead of next year's burning season. Though there's a subsidy of Rs 50,000 for SMS and Happy Seeder machines, these implements still cost over Rs 1 lakh each.


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