In a major scientific breakthrough, ICAR- Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) claimed to have developed a revolutionary decomposer that gets rid of rice residues within 24 hours and also helps in nitrogen fixation, to the extent of 50 kg per acre, in the soil.

ICAR experts said they are racing to patent the formula.

They said the field lab trials, conducted jointly with the agri-startup and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), were successful and a field demonstration would soon be carried out in the post-rice harvest season – by the last week of October.

The innovation comes on the heels of the central government’s directions to the state to control stubble burning, which is a major cause of air pollution in the National Capital Region and other North Indian states during winter.

The government has directed the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to implement a comprehensive micro-level plan and promote the use of bio-degrader.

Dr SK Tyagi, Project Coordinator, AICRP for PHET, which is the brainchild behind the digester, said that various technologies are being developed under the Coordinated Project in India. This includes ongoing research on crop residue management which is a major concern for farmers in Punjab.

“The biggest challenge in the decomposition of stubble is the presence of silica in it, which is why the process takes a long time. But we have been able to greatly reduce the decomposition of silica,” Tyagi said.

He said Parshuram Bio Agrotech Pvt Ltd, a recognized startup company of the Government of Punjab – which funded the project – with Dr Mohd Alam of the department of Agricultural Engineering and Processing, PAU, made important contributions under the supervision of Dr Nachiket Kotwaliwale, director, ICAR-CIPHET.

“The field demonstration for the pilot project will soon be conducted jointly by PAU. Besides, by decomposing the stubble within 24 hours, the technology will improve soil health and also reduce the use of fertilizers by half,” emphasized Tyagi.

Dr Nachiket Kotwaliwale, director of ICAR-CIPHET, said, “Right now, we cannot share many details, but the technology has passed laboratory trials,” Kotwaliwale said.

An estimated 20 million tonnes of rice stubble is produced every year in Punjab and 80% of it is burnt.

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