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Farm mechanization has played a key role to bring a significant improvement in agricultural productivity in the state.  Presently , Punjab is the most mechanized state in the country with  the highest farm power availability (2.6 kW/ha).  The   statistics of 2012-13 indicates that there is one tractor for every 8.71 ha of net cultivated land in Punjab as compared to National Average of 62 ha. As per information provided by Punjab State Farmers Commission, the  state has almost the double the number of tractors( 16% of tractors in India)  it requires as per net sown area with average use of tractors per annum is only  450 hours much below the minimum 1,000 hours of productive use in agricultural operations. This is leading to over capitalization in farm mechanization and its under-utilization due to decrease in farm size. This leads to higher cost of production and lower net income to farmers, making it economically unviable.   Use of harvester-combines for wheat and paddy has been on the increase. Their use leaves  uncut straw and stubble in the fields, which is often burnt, causing air pollution apart from declining soil fertility.

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Impact of Farm Mechanization

Farm mechanizations in Punjab have reached at a saturation point. It is no more viable, both economically and environmentally as well. As per various studies on utilization of tractors by the farmers in the state, it has been observed that the average use of tractors per annum is much below the minimum 1,000 hours of productive use in agriculture including custom hiring. This is leading to over capitalization of farm mechanization and the capital is under-utilized due to decrease in farm size in the state. The farm mechanization also leads to the degradation of environment through air and noise pollution. There has been a tremendous increase in agricultural machinery in the state from the last decade in the state.

At present in the state, majority of the farm tasks including plouging, digging, harvesting, processing, loading, sorting is being done by machines. This has two main environmental impacts: massively increasing use of fossil fuels generate gaseous emissions and direct impact on soil. Fossil fuels used not only to power agriculture machinery, but also in the manufacturing of agrochemicals and fertilizers and their environmental impacts in terms of pollution, contribution to global warming and depletion of a non-renewable are well known. Gaseous emission from the agriculture machines also causing a lot of air pollution by addition of unburnt hydrocarbons in the ambient air of rural areas. Soil compaction by agriculture machinery is also recognized as being a significant contribution to decreased soil fertility and increased erodability. Soil compactions increases resistance of soil to penetration by roots and emerging seedlings, limit gaseous exchange between roots and atmosphere and reduce water infiltration, altering soil moisture and accelerating runoff and erosion. Now the most of harvesting of paddy and wheat in the state is done by combines. The thousands of tonnes of agricultural residues on cultivated land in the State go up in flame after every harvesting season causing a lot of air pollution. Burning of straw in rice/paddy fields apart causing environmental pollution, raises the temperature of the soil in the top 3 inches to such high degree that the equilibrium of Carbon: Nitrogen ratio (11:1), the percent bacteria (4:1), and the percent fungi (9:1) are rapidly changed. The carbon as CO2 is lost to atmosphere, while nitrogen is converted to nitrate. This nitrate is largely leached away in subsequent irrigation away from the root zone. The consequence is the ever–increasing   use of chemical fertilizers to maintain the stagnating yields. The noise pollution is another environmental problem in the rural environment. The use of agricultural Machinery mainly tractors, combines, threshers, knapsack sprayers and diesel engines has become major source of noise pollution in rural areas in the state. All these machines are now manufactured indigenously to suit the local conditions. Although these machines have satisfactory functional design yet they have poor dynamic performance and are a lot of noisy. Like the industrial workers and bus drivers, the agricultural machinery operators over the years suffer noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). This is because of high noise level of machines and prolonged working hours, which result in excessive exposure of the operators to Noise: specially during the peak seasons of farm  like sowing and harvesting.

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