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Stubble burning Study by MIT

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https://globalchange.mit.edu/news-media/jp-news-outreach/targeted-approach-reducing-health-impacts-crop-residue-burning-india

 

Very informative and useful study, with potential low-hanging fruit in terms of reducing pollution.  

 

Lets see how many years it takes for this to get adequate media coverage, and potential implementation.

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Very cool!  Thank you for sharing.  ]

 

Instead of demonizing farmers or forcing them to give up burning in one fell swoop, they suggest a low cost mitigation intervention - simply change the timing of burning to achieve significant benefit.  Here is an excerpt from the abstract from the original paper:

 

Quote

From 2003 to 2019, we find that agricultural residue burning caused 44,000–98,000 particulate matter exposure-related premature deaths annually, of which Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh contribute 67–90%. Due to a combination of relatively high downwind population density, agricultural output, and cultivation of residue-intensive crops, six districts in Punjab alone contribute to 40% of India-wide annual air quality impacts from residue burning. Burning two hours earlier in Punjab alone could avert premature deaths up to 9600 (95% CI: 8000–11,000) each year, valued at 3.2 (95% CI: 0.49–7.3) billion US dollars. Our findings support the use of targeted and potentially low-cost interventions to mitigate crop residue burning in India, pending further research regarding cost-effectiveness and feasibility.

 

As always, there is more work to be done with the research itself, and then the politico-cultural hand-wringing begins.

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12 hours ago, gattaca said:

Why don’t farmers till after they are done ? This is what we do in south 

 

Timing.  They do a rice-wheat cycle, and by the time they harvest the rice, they have very little time (20 days or so) to plant the wheat.  If you tilled the rice straw in, it would take 6 weeks for the large straw residue to decompose and have it ready for wheat planting.

 

On a related note, tilling itself is not good for long-term topsoil health and no-till farming must be promoted. 

 

There are many alternatives out there, but often small and marginal farmers are unable to get the capital to invest in them.   

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2 hours ago, BacktoCricaddict said:

 

Timing.  They do a rice-wheat cycle, and by the time they harvest the rice, they have very little time (20 days or so) to plant the wheat.  If you tilled the rice straw in, it would take 6 weeks for the large straw residue to decompose and have it ready for wheat planting.

 

On a related note, tilling itself is not good for long-term topsoil health and no-till farming must be promoted. 

 

There are many alternatives out there, but often small and marginal farmers are unable to get the capital to invest in them.   

For timing in US they put straw over grass seed to protect from birds. Wouldn’t rice straw help ? but tilling is good ? Tilling allows rice straw to decompose and provides organic fertilizer ? 

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On 11/18/2022 at 10:10 AM, gattaca said:

For timing in US they put straw over grass seed to protect from birds. Wouldn’t rice straw help ? but tilling is good ? Tilling allows rice straw to decompose and provides organic fertilizer ? 

Farming is heavily subsidized in US. Some of the farmers are paid not to grow either.

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India needs a solution...

 

here you have a situation where the economic gains by sowing rice are much less by the medical deaths and expenses caused by the burning...

 

I dont need a study from MIT to tell me pulses instead of rice are the need of the hour and need to be heavily supported in terms of MSP. They also consume less water and are the real solution. This has been a solution for a long time even in Maharashtra and northern Karnataka where sugarcane is the a highly water consuming plant which is unsustainable

 

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/for-punjab-pulses-could-hold-key-to-breaking-wheat-paddy-cycle-7353861/

 

But the basmati lobby is too strong......

 

 

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On 11/18/2022 at 11:10 AM, gattaca said:

For timing in US they put straw over grass seed to protect from birds. Wouldn’t rice straw help ? but tilling is good ? Tilling allows rice straw to decompose and provides organic fertilizer ? 

By timing, what I mean is that there is very little time between harvesting rice, getting rid of the stubble and planting wheat immediately.  Otherwise, the wheat crop will fail. 

 

While tilling may recycle some N-P-K into the soil, it is by no means close to being adequate for a whole wheat crop.  You must use synthetic fertilizer. Moreover, constant tilling depletes the top-soil in the long-term and negates any composting effects that may be there. 

 

There are 3 solutions, IMO, which could all be used in combination: 

 

(1) Like @G_B_ said above, do not grow rice, but grow another crop.  I am not sure what the linked article says (paywall), but in my opinion, you cannot implement this idea on a mass scale.  You must find a significantly large of farmers who are willing to try it and, if it succeeds, then others will follow suit.

 

(2) Use the suggestions from the original article on a trial basis.  It seems like a worthwhile effort.  If some farmers do not want to switch from rice, they can follow this method to see if it works.

 

(3) Mechanized seeders (Happy seeder) developed by PAU:  It cuts the paddy straw much closer to the soil and automatically plants wheat seeds without ploughing or burning.  It is an investment that must be incentivized for small and marginal farmers. This article outlines some possibilities:

https://thefederal.com/analysis/no-till-no-burn-method-could-be-north-indias-answer-to-stubble-burning/

Edited by BacktoCricaddict
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On 11/17/2022 at 9:42 PM, Khota said:

I don't understand 2 hours earlier part but the solution of less residue crop like Basmati is not the best idea either.

 

@diga  @Khota

 

On 11/17/2022 at 6:45 PM, diga said:

Did not understand this statement about burning 2hrs earlier & averting premature deaths ... ??

 

From the original research paper:

 

If the target region is restricted to Punjab only, burning earlier by two hours in November yields an average (over 17 years) 14% reduction in air quality impacts resulting from that region’s residue burning (Supplementary Fig. 5). This means 9600 (95% CI: 8000–11,000) averted early deaths annually, valued at 3.2 (95% CI: 0.49–7.3) billion USD. This is greater than the sum from all other states if the same timing shift were applied. Although these improvements could be subject to the specific diurnal cycles we use, our assumptions of diurnal fire activity agree with previous findings that fires are typically set during early to mid-day (07:00–11:00 LT) and burn out by the evening (17:00–20:00 LT), lasting 13–15 hours20,21,22,33, and that fire activity generally peaks in the afternoon22,32. Liu et al. 2020 collected survey data from households in India, finding that despite regional variations, 97% of burning activities happen between 10:00 and 23:00 LT, nearly 30% of which happen in late evening (18:00–23:00 LT)22. While we do not have district-level information about hourly diurnal cycles of fire activities due to a lack of comprehensive in-field studies, our broad conclusion is that there may be significant benefits yielded by encouraging fires to be set earlier (10:00–13:00 LT) in the day rather than later (14:00–17:00 LT).

 

One contributing factor to these changes could be natural, diurnal changes in the depth of the planetary boundary layer (PBL). The PBL height (PBLH) typically peaks at 13:00–14:00 LT and decreases rapidly afterwards (Supplementary Fig. 6). It is a key meteorological parameter in pollutant dispersion34,35,36 because a higher PBLH favors dispersion and reduces aerosol accumulation34,36 (see Supplementary Information for a detailed discussion). However, the PBLH is also directly affected by aerosol loading meaning that the concentration of pollution can itself affect dispersion35. The PBLH decreases with increasing aerosol concentration, which enhances atmospheric stability and in turn favors even higher pollutant concentrations––a positive feedback loop35. However, the diurnal variations of PBLH do not change significantly on heavily polluted days compared to clean days34,37. Supplementary Fig. 6 also shows similar diurnal cycles of PBLH in polluted and less polluted areas. Therefore, despite local aerosol-PBL interactions, a shifted burning cycle on an hourly basis is not likely to significantly affect the broad patterns of PBLH and the timing effects of emissions. However, further investigation will be needed to evaluate how a shift in the diurnal pattern of burning (i.e. aerosol emissions) might in turn modify the diurnal pattern of PBLH––and therefore pollution dispersion––compared to the effects observed to date for existing emission patterns.

 

Other meteorological parameters including relative humidity (RH), temperature, and wind speed also vary diurnally and may affect the benefits of burning earlier34,38. Studies in India found higher pollutant concentrations with higher RH due to incomplete combustion, causing more secondary aerosol formation38. Supplementary Fig. 6 shows that, on average, RH is roughly constant from 11:30 to 15:30 local time. Our proposed shift moves the peak burning time from 14:30 to 13:30, suggesting that the RH effect is not significant. In addition, lower temperature and lower wind speed could trap more aerosols within the PBL34,38. This is consistent with our finding of decreased air quality benefits when the burning peak is too early or late (Fig. 5). Changes in wind speed due to high aerosol loading should also be considered in future online studies of specific interventions.

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4 hours ago, G_B_ said:

India needs a solution...

 

here you have a situation where the economic gains by sowing rice are much less by the medical deaths and expenses caused by the burning...

 

I dont need a study from MIT to tell me pulses instead of rice are the need of the hour and need to be heavily supported in terms of MSP. They also consume less water and are the real solution. This has been a solution for a long time even in Maharashtra and northern Karnataka where sugarcane is the a highly water consuming plant which is unsustainable

 

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/for-punjab-pulses-could-hold-key-to-breaking-wheat-paddy-cycle-7353861/

 

But the basmati lobby is too strong......

 

 

 

Bhai ,, paywall :-(. Any workarounds?

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On 11/17/2022 at 1:38 PM, sandeep said:

https://globalchange.mit.edu/news-media/jp-news-outreach/targeted-approach-reducing-health-impacts-crop-residue-burning-india

 

Very informative and useful study, with potential low-hanging fruit in terms of reducing pollution.  

 

Lets see how many years it takes for this to get adequate media coverage, and potential implementation.

it will take a while to percolate into real action

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18 hours ago, G_B_ said:

India needs a solution...

 

here you have a situation where the economic gains by sowing rice are much less by the medical deaths and expenses caused by the burning...

 

I dont need a study from MIT to tell me pulses instead of rice are the need of the hour and need to be heavily supported in terms of MSP. They also consume less water and are the real solution. This has been a solution for a long time even in Maharashtra and northern Karnataka where sugarcane is the a highly water consuming plant which is unsustainable

 

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/for-punjab-pulses-could-hold-key-to-breaking-wheat-paddy-cycle-7353861/

 

But the basmati lobby is too strong......

 

 

What about oilseeds, would those help reduce/stop pollution ? 

 

We import a lot of them for cooking oil and govt is also exploring palm cultivation since that is the cheapest product for cooking fats.

 

My guess is the seeds are not suitable and hence not being proposed as a solution in the north but the economic demand is there. 

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