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The open field burning of straw after combine harvesting is a common practice in the state in order to ensure early preparation of fields for the next crop. Apart form affecting the soil fertility burning of agricultural residue is now recognized as an important source of air pollution in rural areas. It leads to emission of large amounts of suspended particulate matter besides gases like CH4, CO, N2O, NOX, SO2 and hydrocarbons. Punjab produces around 20 million tons of rice straw and 17 million tons of wheat straw annually. The wheat straw to an extent used for cattle feed, whereas paddy straw is not preferred for the purpose due to presence of silica content. More than 80% of paddy straw and almost 50% wheat straw produced in the state is being burnt in fields every year. The burning of straw leads to loss of precious nutrients as nearly 25% nitrogen & phosphorus, 50% Sulfur and 75% of potassium uptake from soil are retained in the crop residues. It has been estimated that burning of 1 tonne of paddy straw accounts for loss of 5.5 kg nitrogen, 2.3 kg phosphorus and 1.2 kg sulfur, besides organic carbon. Further, heat generated by paddy straw burning penetrates into the soil, leading to loss of moisture and useful microbes, thus, adversely affecting soil properties. High cost of collection and lack of economically viable options to utilize the straw, are identified as major factors, compelling the farmers to burn it.

A policy for utilization and management of paddy straw is being formulated by State Govt to permanently address the pollution hazard issue associated with open field straw burning   and to ensure handsome returns to the farmers on their huge stock of paddy straw by ensuring its optimum utilization for power generation as a renewable source of non-conventional energy.

Case Study: M/s Sampurn Agri. Ventures Pvt. Ltd. Fazilka, Punjab

Biomethanation of Paddy Straw

Paddy straw has the potential to produce methane at the rate of 200 to 340 m3/tonne of biomass. A full scale biomethanation plant to generate power has been set up by M/s Sampurn Agri. Ventures Pvt. Ltd. at Fazilka and is functional since February, 2015.

o    Project Details: The Plant has been set up by M/s Sampurn Agri. Ventures Pvt. Ltd. In technical collaboration with IIT(Delhi) at a cost of Rs. 35.00/- crores.  This is the first of its kind project being implemented in India using 100% paddy straw as an input feed for producing biogas using Biomethanation process to generate electricity (Biogas Genset from MWM, Germany) and organic fertilizer.  The electrical energy produced is injected into the grid. The organic fertilizer is sold to farmers in various forms including but not restricted to fortified farm manure, phosphor compost, Phosphate Rich Organic Manure (PROM) etc. The high COD/BOD water separated from the digester output slurry is used for farming of fodder for fish.

o    Salient features of the Plant are:

  • The capacity of Plant is to use 40 tonnes Paddy Straw per day. Presently, the Plant is using about 15 tonnes Paddy Straw per day for production of Bio-Gas
  • The plant produces 4000 cubic meter bio-gas at present which is used to generate 6000 units per day. The installed capacity of Plant Is to generate 1 MW power per hour.
  • The organic fertilizer production is in the range of 12 tons per day (total capacity is 35 tonnes per day). PAU is conducting study with support from PPCB on qualitative parameters of organic fertilizer of the Plant to evaluate its utility in agriculture.
  • Effluent from digester of biogas plant is being converted into value-added products like silica rich fertilizer, H2SO4 and micronutrient rich slurry (substitute for gypsum). 
  • The entrepreneur has got the process indigenized through need based R&D involving IIT, Delhi and intends to use the biogas as Bio-CNG.
  • The entrepreneur is planning to upscale the capacity of this Plant to use 100 Tonnes of Paddy Straw per day. Besides, M/s Sampurn Agri. Ventures Pvt. Ltd. is also planning to replicate this technology.