Role of Biogas in Rural Development

Anaerobic digestion has proven to be a beneficial technology in various spheres for rural development. Biogas produced is a green replacement of unprocessed fuels (like fuel wood, dung cakes, crop residues). It is a cost effective replacement for dung cakes and conventional domestic fuels like LPG or kerosene. Biogas technology has the potential to meet the energy requirements in rural areas, and also counter the effects of reckless burning of biomass resources.

Biogas has the potential to rejuvenate India’s agricultural sector

An additional benefit is that the quantity of digested slurry is the same as that of the feedstock fed in a biogas plant. This slurry can be dried and sold as high quality compost. The nitrogen-rich compost indirectly reduces the costs associated with use of fertilizers. It enriches the soil, improves its porosity, buffering capacity and ion exchange capacity and prevents nutrient depletion thus improving the crop quality. This means increased income for the farmer.

Further, being relatively-clean cooking fuel, biogas reduces the health risks associated with conventional chulhas. Thinking regionally, decreased residue burning brings down the seasonal high pollutant levels in air, ensuring a better environmental quality. Anaerobic digestion thus proves to be more efficient in utilization of crop residues. The social benefits associated with biomethanation, along with its capacity to generate income for the rural households make it a viable alternative for conventional methods.

The Way Forward

The federal and stage governments needs to be more proactive in providing easy access to these technologies to the poor farmers. The policies and support of the government are decisive in persuading the farmers to adopt such technologies and to make a transition from wasteful traditional approaches to efficient resource utilization. The farmers are largely unaware of the possible ways in which farm and cattle wastes could be efficiently utilised. The government agencies and NGOs are major stakeholders in creating awareness in this respect.

Moreover, many farmers find it difficult to bear the construction and operational costs of setting up the digester. This again requires the government to introduce incentives (like soft loans) and subsidies to enhance the approachability of the technology and thus increase its market diffusion.

5 Ways to Shop For Food Responsibly

Nowadays, we can get food from the four corners of the Earth. If you want tropical fruit during the winter, you can get it. You’ll never run out of oranges, mangoes, or bananas. While these fruits and other imported foods are delicious, it’s important to eat the foods local to your area.

Shopping for and eating locally grown food is stellar for the environment and your health. However, it’s a bit difficult to navigate these days when most common items are imported. Let’s go through some tips to become a responsible food consumer:

locally-grown-food

1. Research Food Local to Your Area

First things first, get to know what crops grow best in your area. Do some googling and go to the library to find resources. Talk to people at your local grocery store.

Figure out which foods grow during the specific seasons and tailor your diet to suit the standards. Buy some cookbooks that have recipes specific to your area if they’re available.

2. Go Into the Store With a Game Plan

Going into a grocery store can either be a terrible burden or a fun experience. Most of the time, we enter huge establishments that push certain products towards consumers due to profits. Those who consider grocery shopping burdensome should craft a plan of action.

locally-grown-food

You’ve already looked into local foods in your area. Now, you can craft recipes based on the ingredients. Plan what you’re going to cook for the week before you go shopping. Then, you can shop efficiently without succumbing to sales prices or food from far away.

3. Use Online Marketplaces Run by Farmers

While being responsible for your food choices involves eating mostly locally, some imported delicacies are hard to resist. Go easy on yourself. While you should avoid going into huge grocery chains and buying exclusively imported foods, you can splurge every once in a while.

If you want to buy certain foods that need to be imported, consider using online marketplaces like Pinduoduo. These stores are partnered directly with farmers. That way, you can enjoy imported foods while supporting farmers directly.

4. Go to Your Local Farmers Market

While grocery chains are great for certain products, there’s nothing like a farmers’ market. At a farmers market, you are directly exposed to the foods grown in your area. While farmers maintain a huge presence in these markets, you’ll also see other vendors as well.

food-waste-college

Organic food is a modern, healthy part of a sustainable lifestyle.

You’ll be able to buy locally made dips, chips, and other snacks. Plus, you can also buy crops or plants from certain individuals if you have a green thumb.

5. Buy Less

When transitioning to the life of a responsible food consumer, you’ll have to adjust to buying less every week. A responsible consumer does not overbuy. The individual buys what they need, whether that can be accomplished in one trip to the store or several.

The more you minimize food waste, the better you’ll feel. However, take baby steps and don’t feel too down if you have waste.

Become a Responsible Food Consumer

The task of being a responsible food consumer seems impossible, but it isn’t. The journey will take a while since you’re changing your habits and mindset, but it’s worth it. When you follow the steps to be more responsible, your body, mind, and the earth will thank you.

Take your time, make small changes every day, and have fun in the process. Maybe a love for cooking or baking will pop up while you are in the process.

How Farmers Can Benefit from Agriculture Recruiting?

Agriculture recruiting is the process of hiring personnel with agrarian qualifications. The qualification may be in the form of diplomas, degrees, and practical experience. Farming is an art that can be learned by any individual interested in venturing into the industry. However, it takes a level of expertise to navigate the various dynamics that influence whether the farming process is a success. Let’s take a look at how farmers can benefit from agricultural recruiting.

agricultural-recruiting

1. Research

Data gathered from in-depth research is one of the ways that farmers can benefit from agriculture recruiting. As a farmer, it is tempting to plant convenient crops, season, and plants that are enjoyable. However, agriculturalists base decisions on in-depth research data.

Agriculture recruiting will provide researchers who can provide you with the following information that is crucial for the success of any crop:

  • The specific crops that grow well in your particular geographical area
  • The temperatures required for specific crops to grow in a healthy state
  • The best time of the season to plant a specific crop
  • The advantages and disadvantages of planting the crop
  • Mistakes experienced by other farmers and how to avoid these
  • Labour required for the crop
  • Gadgets needed for effective planting
  • Type of irrigation required for watering the crop

Such information requires in-depth research through case study analysis, interviews with farmers, participant observation, and desk research. Expert agricultural researchers will provide such data, which will help a farmer make informed decisions regarding their crop.

2. Business Management Consulting

A farmer may be a wealth of knowledge regarding the practical execution of crop planting. They may be sure of the times to plant, the soil, and the processes it takes to yield a quality crop. If the farmer is in business, they may not have the expertise regarding business management.

The business aspect of farming requires market research, competitor analysis, market trend projection, foresight, marketing, consumer behavior, and networking. Through agricultural recruiting, a farmer is paired with an expert in such business processes. The coupling of the skills may result in farming business success.

3. Soil Testing

It is difficult to determine the type of soil that you plan to grow the crop. Agriculturalists know how to test the soil to decide various dynamics. Soil type can determine the type of crop that will raise best, the produce that will require the least labor, the kind of fertilizer that nurtures the soil type effectively, and the season that certain crops flourish. A farmer who has soil tested before beginning a planting process will have a higher success rate than one who risks planting the wrong type of produce in the soil.

4. Seed Selection

Regardless of the type of crop that a farmer decides to plant, they can choose from numerous kinds of seeds. The decision to buy a particular type of seed should depend on varying factors such as land space, soil type, and temperature. This is the kind of information that a farmer will benefit from if they venture into agriculture recruiting. You can research it yourself—however, it may be difficult to verify the knowledge freely shared in digital spaces.

pest-management

5. Expert Damage Control

Crops can succumb to factors that are sometimes out of the farmer’s control. For example, unexpected heavy rainfall, winds, or a sudden pest problem could all affect the crop’s quality. Agriculture recruiting means accessing experts of damage control in such situations. Experts will know whether crops can be salvaged from the damage and the process that is required. If the crop is damaged beyond the point where any can be nurtured to health, experts will give information regarding how to move beyond the damage. Prevention methods in some cases may also be provided for future execution.

6. Pest Management

Pest management is crucial to the success of a crop. Experts can decipher whether a crop requires a form of pest management, the kind of pest that may damage the crop, how it damages the harvest, as well as when and how to apply pest control substances. Certain chemicals may, in fact, harm the crop, or become hazardous to health if applied on the wrong type of crop. The expert advice offered to farmers is therefore essential, especially when there is the use of chemicals. Agriculturalists are also trained on how to use the chemicals, meaning farmer safety is a priority.

Conclusion

Farmers can benefit from agriculture recruiting because of expert knowledge. Farmers can benefit from in-depth research, soil testing, seed selection consultation, damage control, pest management, and farming from the business facet. It is advised that farmers consult such expertise to avoid costly mistakes and develop their farming art through expert guidance.

Biogas from Agricultural Wastes

The main problem with anaerobic digestion of agricultural wastes is that most of the agricultural residues are lignocellulosic with low nitrogen content. To obtain biogas from agricultural wastes, pre-treatment methods like size reduction, electron irradiation, heat treatment, enzymatic action etc are necessary. For optimizing the C/N ratio of agricultural residues, co-digestion with sewage sludge, animal manure or poultry litter is recommended.

Agriculture_Waste_Biogas

Types of Agricultural Wastes

Several organic wastes from plants and animals have been exploited for biogas production as reported in the literature. Plant materials include agricultural crops such as sugar cane, cassava, corn etc, agricultural residues like rice straw, cassava rhizome, corn cobs etc, wood and wood residues (saw dust, pulp wastes, and paper mill waste)

Others include molasses and bagasse from sugar refineries, waste streams such as rice husk from rice mills and residues from palm oil extraction and municipal solid wastes, etc. However, plant materials such as crop residues are more difficult to digest than animal wastes (manures) because of difficulty in achieving hydrolysis of cellulosic and lignocellulosic constituents.

Codigestion of Crop Wastes

Crop residues can be digested either alone or in co-digestion with other materials, employing either wet or dry processes. In the agricultural sector one possible solution to processing crop biomass is co-digested together with animal manures, the largest agricultural waste stream.

In addition to the production of renewable energy, controlled anaerobic digestion of animal manures reduces emissions of greenhouse gases, nitrogen and odour from manure management, and intensifies the recycling of nutrients within agriculture.

In co-digestion of plant material and manures, manures provide buffering capacity and a wide range of nutrients, while the addition of plant material with high carbon content balances the carbon to nitrogen (C/N) ratio of the feedstock, thereby decreasing the risk of ammonia inhibition.

The gas production per digester volume can be increased by operating the digesters at a higher solids concentration. Batch high solids reactors, characterized by lower investment costs than those of continuously fed processes, but with comparable operational costs, are currently applied in the agricultural sector to a limited extent.

Codigestion offers good opportunity to farmers to treat their own waste together with other organic substrates. As a result, farmers can treat their own residues properly and also generate additional revenues by treating and managing organic waste from other sources and by selling and/or using the products viz heat, electrical power and stabilised biofertiliser.

The Environmental Impacts of Agricultural Modernization

Farming is a vital industry that is constantly changing to improve crop yields while minimizing the impact on the environment. The seven billion people on the planet need to eat, and the farms around the globe need to provide food while still being stewards of the land.

Environmental Impacts of Agricultural Modernization

Worries About Continued Environmental Damage

Innovative farming techniques continue to consider the environment, especially as the population grows. With many areas of the world being affected by global climate change, farmers need to learn how to accelerate their productivity.

Unfortunately, farming techniques have harmed the environment. Farmers need new techniques that protect the land and deliver respectable crop yields. Farming communities should evaluate their water usage, grazing land, and fertilizer choices to begin to reverse the damage done through the generations.

Making changes to environmental practices in the farming industry can help reduce climate change anxiety. With so much talk about rising sea levels and increased forest fires, people living with anxiety often worry about how farms will feed everyone on the planet. When farmers help take care of the planet, anxiety levels can drop.

Taking Care of Farmers

People who work on farms need to take care of themselves. Farming is hard work, so farmers should use stretches for sciatica to keep their backs and legs strong and flexible. Workers with healthy bodies have the peace of mind to develop solutions to protect the land from environmental damage.

compost-organic-waste-farming

The concept of safe food using organic waste generated compost is getting traction.

Farmers also need to take care of their physical and mental health. Unfortunately, too many farmers suffer from depression and other mental health issues. Sadly, they don’t reach out for help because mental health problems have a stigma in many farming communities.

If the people of the world expect farmers to make innovative changes to their techniques to protect the environment and feed the world, farmers must get the health care they need. It’s challenging to do a hard job when your body and mind are suffering.

Using Fertilizers Wisely

With synthetic fertilizers, farmers can increase the speed of their crop production. Modern farming communities have used synthetic fertilizers for generations, but these fertilizers have put too much nitrogen into farm fields. While this isn’t problematic for grains like corn, wheat, and rice, it is for other foods.

liquid fertilizer

The excessive levels of nitrogen in the soil don’t stay there. Unfortunately, the nitrogen washes into waterways and gets into the air. The nitrogen harms aquatic ecosystems and can cause toxic algae blooms that destroy the organic matter that feeds fish, animals, and people. Eventually, the waterways become dead zones, and nothing grows in them.

Because China manufactures and uses nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizers, many waterways are polluted and no longer provide fish and plants as they once did. The Gulf of Mexico has several dead zones from toxic algae blooms due to nitrogen fertilizer. These synthetic fertilizers release nitrous oxide, a dangerous greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. People, animals, and plants cannot thrive when too much nitrous oxide is in the atmosphere.

To improve the environment, farmers need to look for alternative fertilizers that do not damage ecosystems. Fertilizers need to improve the efficiency of crop yields without hurting other food sources.

Improving Irrigation Efficiency

Along with fertilizers, farms need fresh water. The majority of freshwater on the plant goes to the agriculture industry, and farmers use a plethora of techniques to get water and feed their plants. Sadly, many parts of the world have freshwater sources, making it more challenging for farmers to effectively feed their crops.

Diverting so much freshwater to farms is environmentally and economically taxing. Moving water can wreak havoc on the environment by creating areas that become oversaturated and other areas that dry out. Irrigation practices can also affect the weather, as evaporation from groundwater and irrigation channels becomes precipitation.

Irrigation practices can empty aquifers. It can also change coastlines and ecosystems. Farmers need to develop innovative methods to reduce the water needed to irrigate plants properly. They also need to consider the water they use to keep their animals hydrated. Water is a necessary commodity, but one that needs better regulation to protect the resource.

Conclusion

Farmers and stakeholders need to develop innovative techniques that protect the environment from damage from agricultural modernization.

Synthetic fertilizer negatively affects fresh and saltwater around the world. Farms need irrigation, but they need to change how they get water and use it. Without changes, the farming industry will suffer from irreversible damage from neglective practices and climate change.

Solar-Powered Pumps are Game-Changing for Agriculture

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear solar power is a solar panel placed on a rooftop for creating electricity for commercial or residential use. However, solar power has another important function – to mine and deliver water to improve productivity. This is especially applicable in sunny nations like Australia and most countries in Africa since its main industry is agriculture. Still, their productivity is suffering since their fields don’t get sufficient irrigation. Though, using solar pumps, they can double or even triple their profits. These economic gains can improve the lives of many farming communities.

Importance of Water in Agriculture

Our lives depend on clean water. The developed countries can sometimes take water for granted, but the evolving economies understand the significance of this commodity. A solar pump is an ecological option to get water for the crops and deliver drinkable, clean water.

The founder and CEO of the British-American company Ignite Power, Yariv Cohen, confirmed that solar pumps brought more efficiency, leading to bigger disposable income and more employment. Farmers can now grow three seasons per year instead of one. So, disposable income increased by 20% to 30%.

60% of the Sub-Saharan Africa population is employed in agriculture. Therefore, agriculture is accountable for 60% of economic output. This is less productive than the other regions in the world since only a part of the farmland gets constant irrigation – just 6% across Africa. Most farmlands go without irrigation, so most farmers in Africa rely only on rain for the larger lands, while they take care of the smaller areas with manual effort.

What is Solar-Powered Pumping System

The solar-powered pumping systems include a solar panel array, which fuels an electric motor. The motor, in turn, fuels the surface pump. The water is pumped from the stream or ground into a storage tank, utilized to water crops. If the farmland is irrigated consistently with solar pumps, the farmers will double the production compared to farmlands irrigated by rainwater or with manual effort.

Life-changing mechanism

About 600 million who live in Africa don’t have consistent electricity access. This is damaging the economic health of the continent. Everyone knows the ideal solution is to expand the electrical grid, but financial and geographical considerations prevent that. Ignite Power provides off-grid solutions to African countries in rural places like Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Cohen explains how solar pumps allow the farmers to irrigate their lands by using the sun. They first connect the homes, and then they utilize the same solar panels to water the fields. Using solar power, the pump enables a big area to be regularly irrigated. This improves the yield affordably.

Ignite Power has 1.1 million customers in Africa. So, there is room for enormous growth for his company and other providers of solar power in the continent. Cohen aims to reach 500 million houses.

They work with the bank and try to find the ideal solutions. They want to provide the best solution for the country with the help of the government. They can connect any payment providers or manufacturers to their system. They can connect all the suppliers, so many people could join.

The case of the two Rwandan women Grace Uwas (23) and Tharcille Tuyisenge (20) is admirable. They started working with Cohen’s company and bought solar systems for homes in Rwamagana, so people there have sustainable and safe electricity. Until now, they have installed twenty-five solar systems and more are coming!

Bottom Line

Electricity is the quintessence for any country. The solar power is game changing for African evolving communities to get access. In this way, they won’t just keep their lights on, but their agricultural productivity will be improved.

Biomass Exchange – Key to Success in Biomass Projects

Biomass exchange is emerging as a key factor in the progress of biomass energy sector. It is well-known that the supply chain management in any biomass project is a big management conundrum. The complexity deepens owing to the large number of stages which encompass the entire biomass value chain. It starts right from biomass resource harvesting and goes on to include biomass collection, processing, storage and eventually its transportation to the point of ultimate utilization.

biomass-exchange

Owing to the voluminous nature of the resource, its handling becomes a major issue since it requires bigger modes of biomass logistics, employment of a larger number of work-force and a better storage infrastructure, as compared to any other fuel or feedstock. Not only this their lower energy density characteristic, makes it inevitable for the resource to be first processed and then utilized for power generation to make for better economics.

All these problems call for a mechanism to strengthen the biomass value chain. This can be done by considering the following:

  • Assuring a readily available market for the resource providers or the producers
  • Assuring the project developers of a reliable chain and consistent feedstock availability
  • Awareness to the project developer of the resources in closest proximity to the plant site
  • Assurance to the project developer of the resource quality
  • Timely pick-up and drop of resource
  • Proper fuel preparation as per technology requirements
  • Removal of intermediaries involved in the process – to increase value for both, the producers as well as the buyers
  • No need for long term contracts (Not an obligation)
  • Competitive fuel prices
  • Assistance to producers in crop management

Biomass Exchange Model

The figure below gives a general understanding of how such a model could work, especially in the context of developing nations where the size of land holdings is usually small and the location of resources is scattered, making their procurement a highly uneconomic affair. This model is commonly known as Biomass Exchange

In such a model, the seed, fertilizer shops and other local village level commercial enterprises could be utilized as an outreach or marketing platform for such a service.  Once the producer approves off the initial price estimate, as provided by these agencies, he could send a sample of the feedstock to the pre-deputed warehouses for a quality check.

These warehouses need to be organized at different levels according to the village hierarchy and depending on the size, cultivated area and local logistic options available in that region. On assessing the feedstock sample’s quality, these centers would release a plausible quote to the farmer after approving which, he would be asked to supply the feedstock.

On the other hand, an entity in need of the feedstock would approach the biomass exchange, where it would be appraised of the feedstock available in the region near its utilization point and made aware of the quantity and quality of the feedstock. The entity would then quote a price according to its suitability which would be relayed to the primary producer.

An agreement from both the sides would entail the placement of order and the feedstock’s subsequent processing and transportation to the buyer’s gate. The pricing mechanisms could be numerous ranging from, fixed (according to quality), bid-based or even market-driven.

Roadblocks

The hurdles could be in the form of the initial resource assessment which could in itself be a tedious and time consuming exercise. Another roadblock could be in the form of engaging the resource producers with such a mechanism. Since these would usually involve rural landscapes, things could prove to be a little difficult in terms of implementation of initial capacity building measures and concept marketing.

Benefits

The benefits of  a biomass exchange are enumerated below:

  • Support to the ever increasing power needs of the country
  • Promotion of biomass energy technologies
  • Development of rural infrastructure
  • Increased opportunities for social and micro-entrepreneurship
  • Creation of direct and indirect job opportunities
  • Efficient utilization of biomass wastes
  • Potential of averting millions of tonnes of GHGs emissions

Conclusions

In India alone, there has been several cases where biomass power projects of the scale greater than 5 MW are on sale already, even with their power purchase agreements still in place. Such events necessitate the need to have a mechanism in place which would further seek the promotion of such technologies.

Biomass Exchange is an attractive solution to different problems afflicting biomass projects, at the same time providing the investors and entrepreneurs with a multi-million dollar opportunity. Although such a concept has been in existence in the developed world for a long time now, it has not witnessed many entrepreneurial ventures in developing nations where the need to strengthen the biomass supply chain becomes even more necessary.

However, one needs to be really careful while initiating such a model since it cannot be blindly copied from Western countries owing to entirely different land-ownership patterns, regional socio-political conditions and economic framework. With a strong backup and government support, such an idea could go a long way in strengthening the biomass supply chain, promotion of associated clean energy technologies and in making a significant dent in the present power scenario in the developing world.

7 Crop Health Metrics That Matter to Farmers

Crop health is of paramount importance to farmers; thus, careful and consistent monitoring of crop health is an absolute must. A recent study on coffee yield losses from 2013 to 2015 revealed that pests and diseases led to high primary (26%) and secondary (38%) yield losses in the researcher’s sampled area. This highlights the significance of closely paying attention to such detrimental factors in your crop’s environment. Doing so will ensure maximum yield and profit for farmers come harvest time.

To look at crop health monitoring as governed by just one or two aspects, however, is a serious mistake. Rather, a holistic approach must be adopted; in other words, more factors need to be monitored than just pestilence and disease.

Here are seven of the most important crop health metrics for farmers to monitor, based on the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Program’s guidelines.

1. Crop appearance

Perhaps the most obvious indicator of crop health is their general appearance. While not an all-in-one, foolproof method of gauging the current condition of a particular set of crops, a farmer possessing the right tools and knowledge can tell quite a lot from simply looking at the state of his or her plants.

Lightness or discoloration in foliage more often than not points to chlorosis, a state in which plants produce insufficient chlorophyll. Modern methods of crop health monitoring, including new technologies that utilize both near-infrared and visible light, allow farmers to actively and accurately monitor chlorophyll content.

2. Crop growth

Among the indicators of poor crop growth are short branches, sparse stand, and the rarity or absence of new shoots. This, of course, will inevitably affect your total yield in a negative way. Under ideal circumstances, there should be robust growth and dense, uniform stand in your crops.

3. Tolerance or resistance to stress

Simply put, crop stress is a decrease in crop production brought about by external factors. An example would be exposure to excess light and high temperatures, which may disrupt photosynthesis (known as photoinhibition). As a result, crops will have insufficient energy to bear fruit or grow, and may even sustain lasting damage to their membranes, chloroplasts, and cells. Healthy crops are stress-tolerant, and can easily bounce back after being exposed to stressors in their environment.

4. Occurrences of pests and diseases

An indicator that your crops are extremely susceptible to pests and diseases would be if over 50% of the population ends up getting damaged by said factors. Under the right circumstances, less than 20% of your crops would be negatively affected by any invasion of pests or spread of disease, allowing them to easily recuperate and increase in number once more.

Building crop resistance against harmful insects and diseases can be done in a number of ways, including improving crop diversity, crop rotation, using organic pesticides such as Himalayan salt spray and eucalyptus oil, and even genetic research and enhancement.

5. Weed competition and pressure

Apart from insects and plant diseases, weeds can also spell doom for your crops, if left unchecked. In the event that your farm becomes overpopulated with weeds that will steal the nutrients from your crops, you will certainly notice that your crops are steadily dwindling. Healthy crops, on the other hand, would eventually overwhelm the weed population and reclaim dominance over your field.

6. Genetic diversity

To have only one dominant variety of crop in your farm is tantamount to putting your eggs in a single basket. For instance, you should consider the importance of having multiple disease-resistant crop varieties on your farm. Don’t fall prey to the temptation of replacing them entirely with a single, higher-yielding type.

It is essential to build crop resistance against harmful insects and diseases

7. Plant diversity and population

In an ideal setting, there should be more than two species of plants in your field. Counting the actual number of trees or plants across your farm, as well as the naturally occurring vegetation on all sides of the area, can also give you a better perspective on your farm’s overall crop health.

Importance of crop management system

Some farmers become overly reliant on insecticides and other chemicals to eliminate their pest problems — a grievous error, as this will likely lead to even more serious problems. Even the indiscriminate application of mineral fertilizers may inadvertently boost pest populations by making conditions ideal for them to thrive.

Ultimately, a combination of the right knowledge and the proper technology is a must in measuring and monitoring crop health metrics. Farmers must always be aware of the current health of their crops, and must be prepared to address any problems with solutions that don’t end up causing more.

The Top 7 Benefits of Composting

The impact of human activities on the environment is rapidly changing. One such activity gaining much attention is waste disposal. A lot of waste products go to landfills despite constituting a reasonable fraction of organic matter, such as paper materials, food wastes, and pet droppings.

The new preferred way to dispose of organic waste is composting. Composting refers to the process through which materials biodegrade. It is a means by which organic waste can be safely recycled. Composting can be effectively done with compost systems.

benefits-composting

Take note that this process of waste disposal is still in its early stages, especially when adopted in homes. Still, here are 7 benefits of composting:

1. Improved Soil Quality

Composted materials become humus, a known nutrient-rich constituent of soil. The newly formed humus replenishes soil nutrients and improves water retention in loose soil. Thus, soil quality considerably improves as a result of composting.

Composted materials are also rich in fungi and bacteria. These microbes prevent insect infestation and suppress weed growth. With these nutrient draining agents out of the way, your soil quality dramatically improves, too.

2. Saves Time and Money

It is a waste of time and money when a yard being cultivated does not experience normal growth, nor does it yield the expected harvest. Fortunately, you can save money and time in the long term with composting practices. This is possible because of the compost’s ability to fight insect infestation, weed growth, and to replenish the soil of lost nutrients.

The three nutrients that are sought in chemical fertilizers, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK), are made available by humus. This directly saves you the cost of purchasing fertilizers. Without the presence of compost, farmers need to spend a lot of money to buy pesticides and weed killers.

3. Environment Friendliness

Composting is an environmentally friendly option compared to landfills. Landfills are currently the most common destination for organic waste. In landfills, organic waste cannot decay properly, so they generate a specific greenhouse gas called methane.

landfills-methane-gas

Methane is known to cause harmful effects on the environment – similar to that of carbon dioxide but even more dangerous. The more organic waste ends up in landfills, the more methane gas that is produced.

Composting solves this problem in a whiff by reducing the amount of methane produced while organic matter decays. Composting allows carbon to be retained in the soil, which lowers the carbon footprint caused by decaying matter.

The ability of compost to bypass the incineration of yard waste also makes it a preferred option for organic waste in yards.

4. Improved Human Health

There are several ways for composting to indirectly enhance human health. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as mentioned above, by composting is not only good for the environment but also for people – a reduction of greenhouse gas means a healthier environment to live in.

Organic food production credited to composting also improves human health in significant ways. It reduces the number of chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides that end up in meals, translating to healthier humans.

5. Higher Agricultural Yield

A higher yield of crops is very important to farmers. Through its ability to increase soil quality, composting achieves a higher return in agricultural products. More plant yield accounts for more plants to be sold, which also means more money to be made.

Soil quality also translates to the quality of the food which is produced. Food produced from high-quality, organic soil is free from all toxins from chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

6. Reduced Erosion

Erosion is harmful to the soil because it makes soil matter and nutrients to be washed away. This is compounded by the fact that soils are loose.

Compost averts erosion by remedying the existing structure of the soil. It further prevents erosion by:

  • Aiding water infiltration in the soil structure.
  • Aiding water retention, thereby slowing runoff and loss of soil matter.
  • Allows for quicker vegetation growth.

7. Aids Biodiversity

Microorganisms present in the soil, such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, will cause the decay of organic material. Their presence is important because they aid soil aeration. Soil aeration on its own accelerates the composting process, making nutrients available in their usable state as quickly as possible.

Other organisms that are present in composted soil include worms and beneficial insects. All these aids the process of plant growth.

Conclusion

Composting is a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to dispose of organic waste. It is particularly important even now as the world struggles with creating solutions to waste disposal.

The application of compost results in better soil quality. It is also a process that saves them time and money of farmers. Humans can benefit from composting through improved health. There is a higher yield of farm produce as a result of composting. Erosion is significantly reduced, and biodiversity is achieved in the soil through composting.

Biogas in Agriculture Sector in India: Key Challenges

Although the conversion of agriculture waste – cattle dung and crop residues –  to biogas and digested slurry is an established and well-proven technology in India, it has been under-used, probably because until recently, firewood was easily available and chemical fertilizer was relatively affordable to most of the farmers in India.

The National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP) was put in place to lower the environmental degradation and prevent greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere. However, this objective of the program is less likely to motivate the farmers and their families to install biogas plants.

This program rolled out by Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (now Ministry of New and Renewable Energy), New Delhi, with heavy subsidies for family-type biogas plants to increase adoption, was successful with lakhs of biogas plants being installed across the country till now.

It was realised that due to poor dissemination of information and unsatisfactory communication about the plant operation & application of the digested biogas slurry, and unable to perceive the return in terms of value resulted in discontinuation of lakhs of biogas plants across the country.

The entire biogas technology marketing efforts failed to highlight major advantage – an increased revenue from agriculture with the use of high quality and a low-cost homegrown digested biogas slurry as fertiliser. Another advantage was to help farmers’ understand that their land quality and output per acre will increase over the years by the use of digested biogas slurry which has been degraded from the rampant use of chemical fertiliser and pesticides.

Challenges to be addressed

The farmer’s communities today are required to made to understand that their revenue from agriculture is decreasing year on year due to increasing deforestation, degradation of land quality, rampant use of chemical fertiliser and pesticides, lack of farm cattle, injudicious use of water for irrigation, and use heavy vehicles for ploughing.

These ill-advised decisions have made the farmers poorer, impacted the health of their families and the rural environment of villages. The years ahead are crucial if this trend is not reversed.

Unending benefits of biogas technology

Most of the rural and semi-urban areas have a poor perception of the Anaerobic Digestion (or biogas or biomethanation) technology. This technology offers benefits to all spheres of society but have a particular emphasis on the needs of the farmers in rural areas.

Farmers with dairy animals generally have free access to animal waste (dung), which provide input feed for the biogas digesters. Normally, these farmers stock-pile the dung obtained from their cattle as a plant fertilizer, but this has lower nitrogen content than the digested biogas slurry created by the biogas digestion process, which is odorless and makes a better fertilizer to substitute chemical fertilizers. They can use the gas for cooking or heating, for running power generators. The biogas technology helps farmers reduce their burden to buy LPG and harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

In short, biogas technology is an integrated solution for sustainable agriculture, improving health and lowering environment degradation.

The promise of biogas technology

Biogas technology can help in the following manner:

  • Enhance bio-security for dairy animals – being fully fermented, bio-slurry is odorless and does not attract flies, repels termites and pests that are attracted to raw dung.
  • Provides high quality and low-cost homegrown fertiliser for sustainable agriculture.
  • Reduce energy poverty and ensure energy security.
  • Digested biogas slurry is an excellent soil conditioner with humic acid.
  • Save time for women for education and livelihood activities.
  • Increase forest cover as less firewood would be needed on a daily basis.
  • Reduce weed growth

Importance of Government Efforts

The agriculture sector is playing a major role in India economy and it comprises a huge vote bank. Our government has launched various initiatives like GOBAR-DHAN (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan), Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT), and New National Biogas and Organic Manure Programme (NNBOMP) in attempt to revive interest in biogas technology for farmers and entrepreneurs.

rice-straw-biogas

Agricultural residues, such as rice straw, are an important carbon source for anaerobic digestion

These initiatives are aimed at developmental efforts that would benefit the farmers, vehicle-users, and entrepreneurs. These initiatives also hold a great promise for efficient solid waste management and tackling problems of indoor air pollution caused by use of firewood, deforestation and methane gas release in the atmosphere due to open piling of cattle dung.

These initiatives aren’t marketing the value which solves a major challenge – degradation of agriculture land for farming in rural India. The initiative and efforts are majorly focused on waste management, environment and towards behavioral change. These changes are of global importance and can be managed effortlessly by generating tangible results for farmers.

India has an aspiring young workforce which is moving to urban settlements in hope for better opportunities, therefore, productivity and revenue from agriculture needs to grow. The biogas sector in India can restore agriculture productivity and strengthen revenue to make it attractive.