Crop residues are the right of soil
Mono-cropping is a major nutrient depleting source for soil. Continuously growing of one crop may leads towards deficiency of specific types of nutrients. On the other hand multiple cropping and intensive agriculture are also exhausting nutrients from soil. This leads towards soil sickness and reducing yield from that patch of land. Soil conservation is a big issue in semiarid regions of the world. Sustainable crop production ensures optimum yield and maintain soil health. Crops are usually grown for harvesting specific economical portion of that crop i.e. cereals and pulses are grown for grain purpose where as fodders are usually for total biomass harvesting. Crop residue is that portion of crop that is left on soil after harvesting economical part of that crop.
There are several ways through which we can manage crop residues:
- Physical removal: after harvesting of crop, residue is removed from field and it can be used for feed of animals in most cases. Due to shorting of fodder in Pakistan crop residues are collected and stored for animal feed purpose during lean period. These residues can also be used for fuel purpose in villages. Rural people made the best use of that residue for building there shelter or animal shelter. Industries are using crop residues for industrial feed, fiber, building materials and biofuel.
- Burning in the field: crop residues are also managed through burning in the field. However it is not environmentally secure method because burning causes air pollution and also hazardous for microbial fauna in the soil. Burning is not always problematic but it can be best management practice in some cases.
- Left on the soil: crop residues sometime not even burnt nor removed from the field, they left on the soil as it is. Crop residues on the soil act as mulching material. In arid and semiarid regions it is an effective tool for soil and water conservation. Crops are sown directly in the standing residues with minimum tillage or zero tillage. Crop residues also a source of organic matter and improve the soil physical and chemical condition.
- Incorporation into the soil: soil quality will ultimately increase when crop residues are incorporated into the soil. Incorporation will increase water holding capacity of soil. Soil fertility has positive increase on incorporation. Organic matter of soil enhanced when residue is mixed with soil.
Benefits of crop residue management:
- Soil erosion can be controlled by effectively managing crop residue.
- Water holding capacity of soil increase
- Increase in soil organic matter
- Soil structure improvement
- Increase in soil microbial activity
- Improvement in soil fertility
- Soil temperature increase
- Crop residue act as soil mulch
- Decrease in soil compaction
- Increase in water infiltration
- Reduce air pollution
- Reduce release of carbon gases
- Time saving
- Machinery wear decrease and fuel saving
- More wildlife can reside in crop residues
Continuous growing of crops and without proper addition of nutrients in the soil ultimately decrease production and soil will unable to support sustainable production. Addition of crop residue will ensure increase in successive crop yield and optimum production can be obtain on sustainable basis. Soil also demand some residue to be incorporated in it. Soil provide us with food and it has right on residues to be mixed in it. Production and quality of produce will improve by wisely managing the crop residues.
Sajid Hanif, Muhammad Irshad, Shafique Aslam, Azeem Akhtar, Muhammad Bilal Younis,