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October 30, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


Efficient and ecologically sustainable management of crop residue, often referred to as agricultural waste, is a pressing issue in India. The remnants of crops, including stubbles, stalks, husks, and other byproducts, present both a challenge and an opportunity. In recent years, the Indian government has recognized the importance of addressing this concern and has been striving to find effective solutions for crop residue management.

What is Crop Residue and Its Utility?

Crop residue refers to the remnants of crops that remain in the fields after harvesting and threshing. These include stubbles, stalks, stover, husk, bran, bagasse, and molasses. While they were once considered waste, crop residues have now gained recognition for their diverse utility.

Types of crop residues

Crop residues are categorized into:

  1. Field residues
  2. Post-harvest residues

Field residues

The residues which are left in the field after the main crop is harvested are called field residues. When left in the field, these residues increase water holding capacity, control erosion, and add nutrients. They can be tilled back into the same soil.

Ex- stem, leaves, stalks, etc.

Post-harvest residues

Post-harvest residues are the materials left after processing. These residues are used as animal feed and soil amendments. Ex- husk, seeds, molasses, bagasse, etc.

Utility of Crop Residue:

Animal Feed: Crop residues are used as bedding material for livestock and as animal feed.

Soil Mulching: They serve as soil mulch to retain moisture and improve soil health.

Biogas Generation: Crop residues are a source for biogas production.

Bio-manure and Compost: They can be composted to create valuable bio-manure.

Thatching: Crop residues are used for thatching in rural homes.

Mushroom Cultivation: They serve as substrates for mushroom cultivation.

Biomass Energy: Crop residues are a potential source of biomass energy.

Fuel: They can be used as fuel for domestic and industrial purposes.

Crop Residue Problem in India

Data on Crop Residue:

Total Crop Residue: 683 million tonnes.

Recycled Crop Residue: 500 million tonnes.

Leftover Crop Residue: 183 million tonnes.

Most crop residue is contributed by cereal crops, with rice generating the most, followed by wheat.

Cotton accounts for a significant portion of fiber crop residue.

Problems Caused by Unscientific Crop Residue Management

The unscientific management of crop residue leads to several problems:

Deterioration of Soil Health: Crop residue burning results in the loss of essential soil nutrients and beneficial soil organisms, negatively affecting soil health.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Burning releases harmful gases, contributing to climate change.

Impact on Human Health: It releases particulate matter that can lead to various health issues, including respiratory problems and airborne diseases.

Livestock Health: The burning of crop residues can endanger the lives of animals, particularly those used for milk production.

Reasons for Unscientific Crop Residue Management

Farmers resort to unscientific crop residue management, such as stubble burning, due to several reasons:

Time Constraints: There is limited time to clear paddy straws before sowing the next crop in the Rabi season.

False Traditional Beliefs: Some farmers believe that burning crop residue restores nutrients to the soil, which is not scientifically accurate.

Shortage of Labor: Migration and employment schemes like MGNREGA have led to a shortage of farm labor, making burning more convenient.

Affordability and Investment: Modern machinery for crop residue management can be expensive, and many farmers, especially small and marginal ones, may not afford or invest in them.

Steps Taken to Prevent Unscientific Crop Residue Management

Several steps have been initiated to address the issue of unscientific crop residue management:

National Green Tribunal (NGT) Order 2015: The NGT prohibited crop residue burning in specific regions, imposing environmental compensation for violations.

Framework of Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM): CAQM provides a framework to tackle air pollution caused by stubble burning and supports action plans by states in affected areas.

Crop Residue Management (CRM) Scheme: This scheme offers financial assistance to farmers for the purchase of machinery and supports the establishment of Custom Hiring Centers for machinery rental.

Revised Guidelines for ‘Off-Site’ Crop Residue Management: These guidelines are designed to encourage alternative uses of crop residue, such as power and heat generation.

The Practice of Stubble Burning

Crop Residue Burning: After the harvest, agricultural fields witness the burning of crop residues. This practice generates smoke that profoundly affects air quality, posing environmental and health concerns.


Reasons for Stubble Burning

Labor Scarcity and Costs: The primary reasons behind the burning of residues are the non-availability of labor and the high costs involved in manually removing the residues. Farmers resort to burning as a quicker, easier, and cost-effective way to manage the residues.

Farmers’ Justification: Farmers often justify this practice, citing its role in inhibiting pests and diseases. However, while this claim might have some merit, the ecological repercussions of burning residues cannot be ignored.

Alternative Methods of Crop Residue Management

Alternative methods for effective crop residue management include:

Pusa Decomposer Technology: Developed by ICAR, this technology accelerates the decomposition of straw.

Biochar Usage: Biochar, produced from rice straw, can enhance soil fertility, carbon storage, and water filtration.

Pelletization: Dried paddy straw can be converted into pellets for use in thermal power plants and industries.

Happy Seeder: This machinery cuts and lifts rice straw, sows wheat, and deposits straw as mulch for residue management.


The transition from unscientific practices like stubble burning to alternative methods of crop residue management is essential. Government initiatives, technological innovations, and increased awareness among farmers are key steps towards ensuring the responsible use of crop residues. By addressing these challenges, India can promote sustainable agriculture and contribute to environmental preservation.

Mains Question:

Discuss the challenges and solutions for efficient crop residue management in India, highlighting the impact of unscientific practices like stubble burning. Explain the government initiatives, innovative technologies, and the role of increased awareness among farmers in resolving this critical environmental issue. (250 Words) 15M


October 30, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: