Madhu Patial*, K.K. Pramanick, A.K. Shukla, Anjana Thakur1 and Ruchi Chauhan 
ICAR-IARI, Regional Station, Tutikandi Centre, Shimla (H.P) 
1CSKHPKV, KVK, Bara, Hamirpur (H.P)


India, having the second largest agro-based economy and crop cultivation throughout the year, generates a large amount of agricultural waste, including crop residues. Crop residue burning has emerged as a major environmental problem contributing to the global warming. According to the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), India generates on an average 500 Million tons of crop residue per year. Among crops, cereals generate maximum residue followed by fibres, oilseed, pulses and sugarcane.

What is crop residue management? 

Crop residue management means leaving last year’s crop residue on the soil surface by limited tillage and maintaining cover on sixty (60) percent of the soil surface. 


There are two types of agricultural crop residues. 
  1. Field residues include the materials left in the fields or orchard after the crop has been harvested. It includes stalks, stubble, leaves, seed and pods. The residue can be ploughed directly into the ground.
  2. Process residues include materials left after the crop is processed into a usable resource. These residues include husks, seeds, bagasse, molasses and roots.
  • Good management of field residues can increase efficiency of irrigation and reduces soil erosion. 
  • Processed residues can be used as animal fodder, soil amendment, fertilizers and in manufacturing. Crop residues help in preventing the hardening of the soil and therefore, they facilitate the easy emergence of crops. 
  • It also helps in improving the Cation Exchange Capacity of the soil and therefore allows easy availability of all the important micro elements and nutrients to the crops. 
  • Removing the crop residues may decrease the residual nitrogen of the soil. 
  • Most of crop residue can be collected and made manure. For this, collect and store the crop residue in pits and allow decomposing for a period of time and once it decomposes it can be used as a bio fertiliser. 
  • Crop residue management adds organic matter to the soil, conserves soil moisture, improves infiltration, aeration and tilth. 
  • Also, crop residue management reduces air pollution. 
Alternative uses of crop residue 
  • Waste from the agricultural industry can be beneficially used as animal feed, compost, production of bio-energy and deployment in other extended agricultural activities such as mushroom cultivation 
  • Governmental interventions mainly focus on the use of crop residue as a source of energy: in the form of biogas as well as a supplement for thermal power plants. 
  • Composting, biochar production and mechanization are a few effective sustainable techniques that can help to curtail the issue while retaining the nutrients present in the crop residue in the soil. 
  • The crop residue can be used for livestock feed, compost making, bio-fuel, bio-oil production and bio-methanation (a non-destructive way to extract high quality fuel gas). 
National policy for management of crop residue 
  • The national agencies are continuously developing policies and possible options to manage the crop residues. Some of the laws that are in operation pertaining to crop residue burning are: The Section 144 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) to ban burning of paddy; The Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1981; The Environment Protection Act, 1986; The National Tribunal Act, 1995; and The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997. 
  • The Government of India recently directed the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to mix crop residue pellets (nearly 10%) with coal for power generation. 
  • Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has formulated the “National Policy for Management of Crop Residues (NPMCR), 2014” and circulated to all States/UTs, to ensure prevention of burning of crop residues, by incentivizing purchase of modern machineries to minimize left-over crop residue in the field, in situ conservation and mixing of residue in soil to increase soil fertility, multiple uses of crop residue, formulation of fodder pellets and briquettes.” 
  • The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT’s) direction, formed on December 2015, had banned crop residue burning in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. 
  • Burning crop residue is a crime under Section 188 of the IPC and under the Air and Pollution Control Act of 1981. However, government’s implementation lacks strength. 
  • The Delhi High Court had also ordered against burning residues, while Punjab government imposed a penalty of Rs 73.2 lakh farmers in 2016 for burning of crop residue. 
  • The government is providing subsidy at 50-80 per cent for crop residue management machinery like: 
  1. Happy Seeder (used for sowing of crop in standing stubble) 
  2. Rotavator (used for land preparation and incorporation of crop stubble in the soil) 
  3. Zero till seed drill (used for land preparations directly sowing of seeds in the previous crop stubble) 
  4. Baler (used for collection of straw and making bales of the paddy stubble) 
  5. Paddy Straw Chopper (cutting of paddy stubble for easily mixing with the soil) 
  6. Reaper Binder (used for harvesting paddy stubble and making into bundles)