A new study has found that coating jowar, bajra, wheat and maize seeds with organic mixture derived from sugarcane residue increases the yield of these cereals.
City-based researchers Aparna Gunjal and Balu Kapadnis experimented with wheat, maize, jowar and bajra seeds. They discovered that the root and shoot length and rate of seed germination of these coated seeds showed marked improvement in comparison to normal seeds.
According to the National Policy for Management of Crop Residue (NPMCR), 70 per cent of the crop residue in the country comes from cereals. India produces 501.73 million tonnes of agriculture residue every year, of which 92.81 million tonnes is simply burned, finding no purpose in any form.
Husk, bran, straw, stover, skin, molasses and bagasse are some of the agro-waste products obtained from rice, wheat, maize, millet and sugarcane. Farmers usually burn these waste products after harvest, often leading to massive air pollution as experienced in Delhi during winters.
Residual matter from rice and sugarcane contribute to at least 34 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, of the total residue.
Annually, the states generating the most farm residue (in million tonnes) include Uttar Pradesh – 59.97, Punjab – 50.75, Maharashtra – 46.45, Andhra Pradesh – 43.89 and Karnataka – 339.94.
The researchers used powdered press mud, which is a type of sugarcane waste, and inoculated with 10 ml each of Bacillus circulans and Bacillus subtilis. Then, a slurry using this press mud was mixed with calcium carbonate and carbo methyl cellulose. It was finally coated on the seeds of wheat, maize, jowar and bajra.
“The management of agro-waste like press mud, which normally lay piled up, is difficult. But it can be better utilised and has the potential to replace chemical fertilisers. By-products like compost and soil conditioners, too, can be derived,” said Gunjal, assistant professor at Department of Microbiology at the Dr DY Patil Arts, Commerce and Science College, Pimpri.
The rate of germination in maize was found to range between 70 and 80 per cent, whereas for jowar it was 95 to 100 per cent. For these crops, the average shoot length ranged between 2.28 cm and 5.25 cm while the root length measured between 2.25 and 4.5cm.