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Paddy straw as cattle feed: a proposal by Punjab Government:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

 

Context:

Punjab Government has proposed to use the paddy crop residue as fodder for animals, especially cattle.

 

Potential benefits of this move:

Punjab produces over 20 million tonnes of paddy straw every year. Most of it is burnt in fields by farmers, leading to widespread air pollution that even spreads to neighbouring states.

  • The total value of this straw is Rs 400 crore approx, calculated on an average rate of Rs 200/quintal. Almost all of it is burnt in fields.
  • This accounts for economic loss apart from the loss of 77,000 tonnes of nitrogen and 5.6 million tonnes of Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) which could be used for ruminant production.
  • The nutritional value of 20 million tonnes of paddy straw is: 10 lakh tonnes of crude protein (CP), 3 lakh tonnes of digestible crude protein (DCP), 80 lakh tonnes of total digestible nutrients (TDN) and phosphorus.
  • Hence, this move is expected to help control stubble burning during Kharif season 2021 and protect the environment.

 

Challenges:

But, animals cannot be fed paddy straw directly from fields.

  • This is because high silica and lignin content reduces its digestive properties. Higher selenium content in paddy straw also limits its use as fodder in animals as compared to wheat straw.
  • Paddy also contains oxalates (2-2.5%) which leads to calcium deficiency.

 

Ways to address these challenges:

  • If given in moderate quantities (up to 5 kg per animal per day), selenium poses no health hazard to the animal.
  • To minimise the effects of oxalates, mineral mixture should always be fed along with the straw.
  • Other methods include urea treatment of paddy straw and urea plus molasses treatment.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such carbon diaoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter?

Sources: Indian Express.