Agro-environmental revolution in Punjab: Case of the happy seeder technology
Biomass burning of agricultural field residue (stalks and stubble) during wheat and rice harvesting periods in the Indo-Gangetic plains has led to substantial emission of trace gases and particles. This paper seeks to address the regulation of emissions from open field burning of rice residue in Punjab, India by first uncovering the factors that explain on field residue burning of rice residue in Punjab. The results suggest that the use of a combine harvester was the single most important determinant of the decision to burn rice residue. The decision to use the combine harvester was in turn determined by the rice variety sown by a farmer. Rice residue are largely burnt, as machinery for planting into loose residue was hitherto unavailable. The recently developed Happy Seeder technology overcomes this problem. It is a tractor-mounted machine that can sow wheat into the rice residue left by the combine harvester thereby precluding its burning. I conclude that Happy Seeder is a low-cost alternative to open field burning of rice residue vis-a-vis conventional tillage. I also find no evidence of an increase or decrease in mean yield of wheat from incorporation of the residue with Happy Seeder compared to conventional tillage. These results have important implication for mitigation policies to reduce residue burning in this region.
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