According to satellite data collated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, since 2017 there has been about 50% reduction in an agricultural area where crop residue is burnt in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi every October.
The ICAR director, Trilochan Mohapatra mentioned that already there has been about 15% reduction in the number of crop-residue burning events.
Mohapatra said that this was mainly because now more farmers have been opting for mechanised technology to dispose of the crop residue. Practices like Happy Seeder/zero-tillage technology that cuts paddy straw, sows wheat in the soil and puts straw over the sown area, making it act like mulch.
In 2018, the Centre had launched Rs1,150 crore scheme to subsidise farm straw-management machinery in the northwestern states where rampant crop burning leads to a spike in air pollution levels before the onset of winters. While the impact of this scheme on air pollution in Delhi-NCR will be assessed for the second time this October.
Mohapatra also mentioned that since 2017, about 56,290 residue-management machines have been bought by farmers and custom-hiring centres, of which 19,288 were Happy Seeders or zero-till machines.
Farmers can hire Happy-Seeder or other machinery at Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 per acre and will get a 50% subsidy if they choose to buy the machine in 2019.
Whereas Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union in Punjab said that he doesn’t think there is a 50% reduction in crop-residue burning in Punjab, there may be a 30% reduction. Farmers will take it up on a large scale if they are given a direct subsidy of Rs 3,000 per acre.
To this the experts from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Punjab Agricultural University said that the use of residue-management technologies had led to a drop in air pollution levels in Punjab’s paddy zone.
Image Credits – NRCS USDA
Any information taken from here should be credited to Skymet Weather