Ludhiana: Agriculture experts in Punjab have sought an effective ban on stubble burning in the wake of air pollution reaching alarming levels in northern states.

During a meeting organised by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) at the instance of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) on Saturday, the participants discussed effectiveness and economics of various machines used this season for straw management by the farmers.

It was observed that super straw management system on combine harvesters must be made compulsory so that farmers could easily manage the harvested straw. A number of farmers, who have been sowing wheat without paddy straw burning, participated in the meeting and shared their experiences and informed that the straw management technologies are working well in fields. It was further highlighted that they are harvesting even better wheat yield as compared to farmers who are burning the straw.

PPCB chairman K.S. Pannu, while expressing concern over deteriorating air quality due to smog, said it would have long lasting and “threatening" effects on Punjab’s civilisation. He suggested creating a registry of straw managing equipments available with farmers in Punjab and creating an app for making this machinery available to farmers near their farms. Pannu appealed to farmers not to burn crop residue.

B.S. Dhillon, vice chancellor, PAU, asked the agriculture department to hold large scale camps and field days to showcase the crop standing in fields at farmers’ fields wherein wheat is being sown without burning of paddy straw over years and also to honour these progressive farmers.

Manmohan Kalia, joint director, agriculture, assured that the government would give subsidy on the machines approved by the PAU.

N.S. Bains, director research, PAU said that the adoption of early maturing varieties of rice will not only provide more window for effective management of paddy straw but also save water. The experts and farmers requested the government to ensure an effective ban on stubble burning, the release said.