Changing the long-standing habit of burning crop residues!

Many farmers believe that stubble burning in agriculture is the most efficient and cost-effective way to clean and prepare the soil for new plantings. Human-caused fires are the world's largest source of black carbon (a component of PM2.5, a microscopic pollutant that penetrates deep into the lungs and bloodstream) that threatens human health and the environment. Despite only being in the atmosphere for a few weeks, its effect on global warming is 460-1500 times stronger than the effect of carbon dioxide. Black carbon can also change precipitation patterns and disrupt weather patterns crucial to agriculture.

Burning crop residues in agriculture reduces water retention and soil fertility by 25 to 30 percent, which farmers later compensate for with fertilizers and irrigation systems. With alternative approaches without burning, such as using stubble residues in fields to fertilize or even planting through the stubble, farmers can even save money.

Changing the long-standing habit of burning crop residues will require education and raising awareness among farmers. It is a tremendous undertaking that can, in turn, result in great and far-reaching positive effects.

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