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As paddy harvesting season is approaching, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has tightened its belts to cut farm fires at farmers’ fields via commercialization of its technologies. The University has signed a pact with four Punjab-based firms, namely Thind Machinery Works, Amritsar; KS Agro Tech, Malerkotla; Amrik Agriculture Industry, Batala and Kisan Agriculture Works, Talwandi for the commercialization of newly evolved surface seeding technology which is effective for paddy straw management and less costly method of wheat sowing.

Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, while congratulating the proprietors, urged the Punjabis and other farm machinery manufacturers to come forward and make collective contribution in curbing this menace which has serious repercussions on health and environment. “PAU is making all-out efforts to put an end to the illegal practice of stubble burning by promoting paddy straw as gold and making a call for conserving it (in-situ), rather than burning it,” he added.

Explaining the salient features of surface seeding-cum-mulching technology, Dr AS Dhatt, Director of Research, said: “It is cost-effective, doesn’t require tractor, and sows wheat in time without burning paddy residue.” “Wheat sowing on acre using this technology costs Rs 700 or 800/-,” he told, adding that it performed sowing operations on one acre in 40 minutes. But it was imperative to let the field dry during wheat sowing and stop the last irrigation in paddy in time, he advised.

Dr GS Manes, Additional Director of Research (Farm Mechanization and Bioenergy), informed that the Punjab government was providing a subsidy of Rs 64,000/- to farmers’ groups and Rs 40,000/- to individual farmers on the purchase and custom hiring of surface seeding machine.

Dr MS Bhullar, Head, Department of Agronomy; and Dr JS Gill, Agronomist, said that farmers were elated to use surface seeding technology during the trials conducted last year by PAU. While making a whirlwind tour of farmers’ fields, farmers reported good crop stand with no-lodging, least affected by harsh weather conditions, saved irrigations, and curtailed herbicide application, they added.

Dr GS Mangat, Additional Director of Research (Crop Improvement); Dr Pushpinder Singh, Additional Director of Research (Plant Protection); Dr Mahesh Narang, Head, Department of Farm Machinery and Power Engineering; and Dr Khushdeep Dharni, Director, Technology Marketing and IPR Cell, were also present at the Memoranda of Agreement (MoAs) signing ceremony.

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