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Monday, December 06, 2021

‘Can’t afford to wait longer for results’: Farmers using decomposer spray now burning stubble

Farmers said that because of the tight time window between paddy harvesting and wheat sowing, stubble decomposers cannot work for them.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: October 29, 2021 8:55:29 am
A farmers sets paddy stubble on fire at village Jassar Nera Gill Canal in Ludhiana on Thursday. (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

Even after spraying their fields with paddy stubble decomposers, several farmers in Punjab resorted to burning the residue saying that they cannot wait longer to get the desired results as wheat sowing will begin in a couple of days.

They said that because of the tight time window between paddy harvesting and wheat sowing, stubble decomposers cannot work for them.

The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed a PUSA decomposer which according to Pusa Delhi officials, decomposes most of the stubble within 20-25 days and has no negative impact on the environment. Farmers can get it sprayed on their fields post harvesting.

The Punjab government is also getting sprayed Pusa decomposer on 3,000 hectares area in all districts of the state on a trial basis.

“I have got it sprayed on 20 acres of land around 20 days back but the stubble has yet decomposed. Now I am worried about wheat sowing because I have already done two operations of disc harrows in my fields before getting it sprayed and spent Rs 1,000 per acre on these operations to mix standing stubble in the soil but stubble in my fields has not decomposed yet. I have been told to wait for at least one more week but I cannot afford to do so as this will delay my wheat sowing,” said farmer Kuldip Singh of Kabulwala village in Muktsar.

“There should be a decomposer with guarantee of decomposing the stubble within a shorter time span,” he added.

Another farmer of the same village also sprayed the decomposter on over 10 acres but resorted to burning the stubble after 15 days of spraying because he was to start wheat sowing on Thursday while the ideal wheat sowing time is from November 1 to November 15.

“I got it sprayed on October 15 but stubble lying in the field is as thick as it was on the day of spraying. I was not sure about whether it will decompose in one more week or not so I decided to burn it,” said a farmer in Lambra area of Jalandhar, adding: “I had to sow potato from October 25 and now I cannot wait any further and have to burn partial stubble to clear the field because I am left with no time to get it incorporated in the soil through stubble management machine.”

Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) experts said that they are also observing the results in the fields but they will not come before 25-30 days’ time.

Another farmer from Kapurthala, who sprayed the decomposer on 25 acres two weeks ago, has burnt the stubble for sowing potatoes.

Joint Director, Farm Machinery Wing, Punjab Agriculture Department and Nodal Officer, Stubble Management, Punjab, Manmohan Kalia, said that the Pusa decomposer, sprayed on 3,000 hectares, will decompose stubble into soil in 20-25 days but its results will show only by December.

He said that the time window is very crucial with this decomposer because as per Pusa, it takes 20-25 days to decompose the stubble while more than 50 per cent harvesting is still to be done in the state and wheat farmers hardly have time to spray it now.

A chief agriculture officer (CAO) on the condition of anonymity said the decomposer is being sprayed on a couple of acres demonstration plots in every block of the state where paddy is grown but they still haven’t seen results. “Last year also we used this spray on paddy straw, the time taken for decomposition is more as per the claims so the result could not be as encouraging as we thought because window period between harvesting of paddy and sowing of potato and wheat is very less. That is why the decomposer could not establish as a demanding commodity among farmers,” he said. However, the officer added that farmers who used this decomposer for preparation of farmyard manure and who are doing organic farming have found it very beneficial.

“If farmers wait the time suggested by Pusa, then they will definitely get very encouraging results as in Delhi we got a third party audit done and farmers who got it sprayed last year also opted to spray it again this year because they got good results,” said Dr Indra Mani, Head Division of Agriculture Engineer at IARI, adding that Pusa has given licence to the UPL Group for developing this decomposer which is getting it sprayed on around 5 lakh acres in Punjab and Haryana free of cost.

“Our tagline is ‘jalaiye nahi galaiye’ (don’t burn but decompose) as our decomposer decomposes the stubble, turning it into manure, improving the soil health and reducing farmers’ input costs on fertilisers for the next cropping season. It is available in capsule form at Pusa and with these capsules farmers can prepare a solution with a simple process in less than a week’s time. The company people have developed a ready to use solution and 300 grams of PUSA spray is enough to decompose stubble on one acre,” added Dr Mani.

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