Higher subsidy sought to discourage stubble burning

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October 08, 2021 6:00 AM

Normally, 90 kg urea and 55 kg DAP per acre in medium fertility soils are recommended for wheat in Punjab. Similarly, 45 kg seed per acre for Unnat PBW 550 and 40 kg for all other varieties have been advised for 2021-22 rabi season.

The researchers have maintained that for the maintenance of body weight of animals and nutritional needs, paddy straw alone is not sufficient and it should be supplemented with compulsory minerals and green fodder.The researchers have maintained that for the maintenance of body weight of animals and nutritional needs, paddy straw alone is not sufficient and it should be supplemented with compulsory minerals and green fodder.

As some incidents of stubble burning have been reported from Punjab and Haryana, experts have suggested the government increase the subsidy level, as farmers incur more expenses on using happy seeder machine as well as on prevention of pests and increased application of fertiliser for first three years.

The stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is reported to have been consistently increasing between September 1 and October 1, according to Nasa data. In Punjab, from 40-50 fire counts around September 19, these increased to 255 on October 1, while in Haryana the number went up from 8-9 to 35 during this period.

Punjab had 76,590 incidents of stubble burning last year, up from 52,991 in 2019 while Haryana had 5,000 counts in 2020, down from 6,652 in 2019, according to environment ministry data.

“Incorporation of paddy straw or its retention through happy seeder for more than three years helps in increasing the wheat productivity and improves soil health. From fourth year onwards, 20 kg urea can be saved per acre,” an agriculture scientist of ICAR said.

As Punjab uses around 14 lakh tonne of urea during rabi season, mostly for wheat, a saving of 22% on this key fertiliser by reducing its consumption with the adoption of happy seeder will also help the government to save around `400 crore.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also admitted that by using happy seeders, farmers can save on urea while they also incur additional costs in spraying pesticides to prevent any pest attack in fields having large loads of paddy straw, said an expert.

According to advisory issued by ICAR last week, wheat farmers in Punjab need to use 5-10 kg more seed per acre than recommended in case of sowing with happy seeder. “Drill 65 kg DAP/acre at sowing and apply 40 kg urea/acre before first irrigation and broadcast another dose of 40 kg urea/acre before second irrigation,” the advisory said, adding 33 kg urea/acre may be applied before sowing in heavy textured soils.

Normally, 90 kg urea and 55 kg DAP per acre in medium fertility soils are recommended for wheat in Punjab. Similarly, 45 kg seed per acre for Unnat PBW 550 and 40 kg for all other varieties have been advised for 2021-22 rabi season.

The government provides 50% subsidy on purchase of happy seeder to individual farmers and 75% assistance to group of farmers. The happy seeder machine is mounted on a tractor to sow wheat into the soil and while doing so, simultaneously it cuts and lifts the paddy straw which is then used as mulch. Stubble burning has been in practice in these states for past few years as farmers prefer to burn the residues after harvesting paddy to clear the field for sowing of wheat. The main reason is attributed to the labour cost involved in clearing the stubble which is more than its market value.

First fortnight of November is the optimum sowing time of wheat crop in Punjab and Haryana to get the best yield. However, sowing of long duration varieties can be commenced from the fourth week of October.

Though armyworm attack wheat usually during March-April, however in recent times there were instances of it in December, particularly in fields having large loads of paddy straw. This pest damages leaves and ear heads of the crop.

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