Why do farmers burn stubble? What Damage does it cause?

Stubble burning
Stubble burning

Farmers are blamed for burning stubble and hence adding to the pollution level. We are aware that the burning of stubble increases harmful gases in the environment. With the onset of winter, Punjab and Haryana farmers are continuously under scanner for burning crops. This action of burning the stubble has many disadvantages. The question arises why are the farmers burning the stubble and if it is necessary, why aren’t they using any safer method for removing the stubble. There is a valuable justification behind it, you would like to know.

Why Do Farmers Burn Stubble

Paddy and wheat are important crops for the states of Punjab and Haryana. Farmers get very little time for sowing wheat after the harvesting of paddy. You would like to know the reason. According to the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Act (2009), it is mandatory that paddy transplantation be done from June 20. It postpones the harvesting of rice crops which leaves very little time between paddy harvest and wheat sowing. The farms have to be made clear for sowing wheat after the harvesting. The burning of stubble is the fastest method to get rid of the crop residue and prepare the farm for wheat sowing, which can’t be delayed further.

According to a report, 20 million tonnes of rice stubble is produced per year and 80% of it is burnt on the farm.

Disadvantages of Burning the Stubble

1. Pollution

Burning stubble seems the most suitable option to the farmers because they get limited time to prepare their farms for sowing the wheat. But this burning brings along a lot of harmful gases that raise the pollution levels of the atmosphere.  This is considered a major cause of concern for all as the world is moving towards serious pollution tiers.

2. Harmful to soil productivity

By burning the residue crops, the farm soil gets deprived of microorganisms, earthworms and many other living organisms. These tiny beings are beneficial for soil fertility, their killing is a big loss to the soil. Productivity is reduced every time farmers burn stubble to clear the farm. 

3. Smog

Burning stubble is a major factor in increasing the smog in northern India. Smog is the combination of fog and smoke. When residue crops burn, smoke is increased in the environment, thereby decreasing visibility and raising serious health problems including respiratory ailments.

4. Global Climate Change

Smog due to stubble burning becomes one of the causes of air pollution. This forms a part of the ozone layer close to the Earth, affecting the lives of living beings. Note that the ozone layer high up in the sky protects us from harmful UV radiation from the Sun. But, the ozone layer formed by such activities, near the surface of Earth is not good for us. We’ve seen a rise in many diseases from cancer, asthma to watering eyes in the last few decades. Stubble burning is contributing to Global Climate Change, which is now at a critical juncture.

The burning of stubble may not be the only cause of pollution but it’s indeed a big contributor. We should find a solution to avoid the burning of crops to control the pollution levels. Humans have travelled far when it comes to technology. The need is to understand the urgency and shift to safer methods of removing stubble.


16 Comments Add yours

  1. Monidipa Dutta (@MonidipaDutta51) says:

    Your points have hit the nail. As you have not only updated us that why farmers burn them but also its cons. I didnt know this smog thing.


    1. Aurora M says:

      You have picked a relevant topic. While traveling I have been seeing many smoke and black residues in the fields. We really need to see the other alternative of this which is easy available for farmers so that they don’t burn stubble.


  2. MommyShravmusings says:

    Its the time for farmers to look for the other alternative sources of reusing the stubble. Thanks for the informative post


  3. Ritu says:

    Your post is on point. One thing I fail to understand… paddy is grown in southern and eastern India too. But we never hear of stubble burning there. Why only in Northern India. An alternative needs to be sought. Delhi is choking each year.


  4. Vasumathi says:

    Every year the capital comes under smog due to this paddy burning. I am sure the government can come up with ideas to use this waste. Why cant it be used to create articrafts etc, like how coir is used. The waste can be collected and transported to factories. It can give birth to another industry and give work/livelihood to many. Something to ponder on…


  5. Harjeet Kaur says:

    Thanks for sharing this Aditi.I always wanted to know but didn’t check about why stubble was burnt.Now I know…thanks to you


  6. Madhu Bindra says:

    A very important post. Stubble burning seems to be the easiest and the fastest option. The government should provide the farmers a good alternative method so that this menace can be stopped.


  7. Satabdi says:

    Stubble burning has been an issue for years. I wonder why we haven’t been able to find a solution given the amount of damage it causes.


  8. Abha Mondal says:

    Stubble burning is kind of big issue when it comes to environment. I wish government will be able to find some solution to address this problem.


  9. rgvdudeja says:

    It has a lot to do with politics as well. If government wants, it could stop this immediately. But that never happens and we get closer to the doomsday everyday.


  10. alpanadeo says:

    Stubble burning definitely contribute a lot to the pollution problem. Efforts should be made towards fining and alternate to burning or utilizing it in something else. With small scale businesses showing its strong presence, if Govt. can think of re-using /recycling it then it can be a win-win to all.


  11. Dr. Surbhi Prapanna says:

    this is an important issue related to our environment that often get ignored. yes stubble burning causes harm to our environment .farmers and government should think of alternative ways to solve this problem.


  12. Ruchie says:

    I am happy that you have written on this issue which needs to be shared and we as a responsible citizens share it so that we get some solution from the government side!!


  13. Varsh says:

    Stubble burning depletes the air quality in and around these states every year. It is important that farmers take proper advice and steps to get rid of it so as to avoid it’s harmful effects.


  14. MeenalSonal says:

    I am sure farmers are taking the steps that is right for them, if technology and science can come with affordable solution then that can be used. Ofcourse the pollution and other factors cannot be ignored as every year many people’s health is affected due to it.


  15. rakshanagaraj says:

    Wow I did not know about this. I thought farmers burnt the stubble so it could not cause fire in future but I did not know the burning has so many negative impacts. Thanks for this informative article.


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