Socioeconomic and Environmental Implications of Stubble Burning in Punjab.

  • Kumar P
  • Kumar S
  • Joshi L
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Crop residue burning is one among the many sources of air pollution. Burning of farm waste causes severe pollution of land and water on local as well as regional scale. This also adversely affects the nutrient budget in the soil. Straw carbon, nitrogen and sulphur are completely burnt and lost to the atmosphere in the process of burning. It results in the emission of smoke which if added to the gases present in the air like methane, nitrogen oxide and ammonia, can cause severe atmospheric pollution. These gaseous emissions can result in health risk, aggravating asthma, chronic bronchitis and decrease lung function. Burning of crop residue also contributes indirectly to the increased ozone pollution. It has adverse consequences on the quality of soil. When the crop residue is burnt the existing minerals present in the soil get destroyed which adversely hampers the cultivation of the next crop. The on field impact of burning includes removal of a large portion of the organic material. The off field impacts are related to human health due to general air quality degradation resulting in aggravation of respiratory (like cough, asthma, bronchitis), eye and skin diseases. The black soot generated during burning also results in poor visibility which could lead to increased road side incidences of accident. Punjab Government, its various Departments and other institutions like Punjab Agricultural University, Punjab Farmers Commission are all making efforts to devise some alternate economic uses of rice stubble. These include the stubble treated with urea as a fodder for animals, its use in biothermal energy production, paper manufacturing, mushroom cultivation, bedding for animals, etc. Punjab government is also providing subsidy to the farmers to promote the use of equipments which help in checking the burning of crop residues, like rotavators, happy seeders, zero–till-drills and straw reapers. While on the one hand, there is an urgent need to revitalize the research in agriculture and related activities, on the other hand, to tackle the problem of soil degradation and water depletion, a dedicated programme for promoting resource conservation technologies, such as zero tillage, deep ploughing, raised bed planting, laser land leveling etc., should be promoted. An eco friendly technology will be beneficial to the farmer community and the state by providing them a tool for improving soil health and environment for sustainable agriculture.




Kumar, P., Kumar, S., & Joshi, L. (2015). Socioeconomic and Environmental Implications of Stubble Burning in Punjab. Springer Briefs in Environmental Science (p. 156). Springer India. Retrieved from

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