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Crop Residue – Don’t Burn it, Earn from it

Agricultural methane emissions in Pakistan have amounted up to 130,300 thousand metric tons of CO2. Agricultural methane emissions of Pakistan have increased from 0 thousand metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 1969 to 130,300 thousand metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2018, growing at an average annual rate of 2.27%. This directly affects the quality of our environment: it is a major factor in creating the prevalent smog in Lahore and other areas.

It is not just affecting the environment, but is also damaging for the soil. The heat from burnt crop residue affects the soil temperatures which kills many bacterial and fungal population that help keep the soil fertile. A report has shown that around one ton of burnt crop residue leads to a loss of approximately 2 kg phosphorus, 25 kg potassium, 1 kg sulfur, and 5 kg nitrogen.

Solutions that currently exist are ineffective or exist on such a small level, that it has little impact on the entire problem. Meanwhile, we see that there are several solutions that Pakistan can adopt to increase over-all economic activity and simultaneously reduce the negative externalities of the residue.

Feed for Buffalos:

The crop residue from paddy farms can be a great feed to fatten buffalos. According to a report, the urea-treated paddy residue can lead up to 500-gm daily weight gain on average.

Bedding for dairy animals:

The paddy crop residue can be an amazing substitute or addition to the current available resources. Reports also show that extra inches of bedding in cattle increases the milk yield and there is decreased body weight loss.

Power Plants:

A study has constructed a model on which crop residue from wheat, maize, sugarcane, rice, and cotton can generate up to 11,000 MW of power. Pakistan already has a major power shortage issue which can be resolved from these solutions. It is reported that these power plants will not need any other source of energy other than crop residue. Moreover, these plants will produce green electricity that will not just decrease environmental population, but also generate economic opportunities in the transportation sector, local manufacturing, processing and service industry, and the power plants themselves.

Therefore, it can be said that crop residue could generate an increased economic activity for farmers and Pakistan at large.