Rice Residue Incorporation Can Make Soil Fertile, Environment Healthy & Farmer Wealthy

Incorporation of rice straw/crop residues increases SOC content
Incorporation of rice straw/crop residues increases SOC content

According to farmers, rice straw burning has advantages such as taking a shorter time for residue removal, it aids in field preparation for the subsequent season, and reducing input energy costs.

Actually, burning rice straw is an awful act that is detrimental to the environment, and to people's health and destabilizes the sustainability of agriculture. The rice straw, if properly handled, has the potential to protect the agricultural ecosystem and increase the financial security of the community that relies on rice farming. In addition to harming the environment, burning activities are costing us one of the most important agricultural resources: straw.

Rice straw can be utilized either within the farming land (In-Situ management) or for the production of valuable by-products such as bioethanol, biochar, biomass pellets or bio-briquettes, biogas, and paper production. In-situ management and residue retention are eco-friendly options to manage rice straw efficiently in the context of farmers’ soil health as well as the sustainability of agricultural production. Rice straw incorporation significantly improves soil’s properties.

Effect on soil physical properties

The physical properties of the soil are crucial for agricultural productivity and the sustainable use of soil. The physical condition of the soil is gradually improved by the inclusion of rice straw. For instance, rice residue dramatically lowers soil bulk density and improves crop development conditions. A sizable increase in overall soil porosity was also seen under various tillage and residue management strategies. The incorporation of residues is an effective method for increasing the stability of rhizospheric aggregates, which aids in the proper growth of roots and the supply of nutrients to the plant. Increased saturated water conductivity is also caused by an increase in soil macro porosity.

Effect on soil chemical properties

Incorporation of rice straw/crop residues increases SOC content and increases SOC in the upper soil layer compared to residue burning. Under residue incorporation, the upper soil has a higher portion of oxidizable carbon attributable to superior biological activity originating from the mineralizable organic matter addition from crop residue; hence it possesses better soil quality and fertility. In relation to residue removal or burning, the incorporation of crop residue resulted in a greater concentration of total nitrogen. The amount of available P was higher when residue was incorporated as contrasted to when it was removed or burned because burning crop residue decreased the quantity of available P by releasing gaseous waste into the environment.

Effect on soil biological properties

The microbiological property/ enzymatic activities of soil act as an essential component for evaluating the various management practices on soil biological quality among varied cropping systems. Soils amended with rice straw had higher rhizosphere Basal Soil Respiration (BSR) due to increased microbes prompted by active carbon biomolecules released by plant roots.

In the rice-wheat–mung bean and rice-wheat system highest BSR was found where crop residue and farmyard manure were applied. The root-associated microbial population initially releases extracellular enzymes (β-glucosidase, cellulose) for larger molecular weight substrate degradation (cellulose, lignin, and chitin), then mineralizing organic compounds into available N, P, S, and other elements. In several cropping regimes, straw incorporation also boosted the rhizospheric activity of acid phosphatase and alkaline phosphatase, which is essential for initial root development.

Additionally, the maximum amount of nutrients was utilized when rice straw and inorganic nitrogen fertilizer were applied, as compared to using simply crop residue or only mineral fertilizer. The recovery of nitrogen from the applied fertilizer in the biomass at the vegetative stage increases by 110% when rice residues are incorporated, enabling a reduced fertilizer demand.  Ultimately, residue retention save penny of small and marginal farmer, maintain serenity in ecosystem and sustain of farmer financial stability.


Tavaliya Harshang1, Korat Hiteshvari2 ,Lakha Wasim3

Ph.D. Scholar, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi-110012

Ph.D. Scholar, Junagadh Agricultural University, Junagadh-362001

Business Development Manager, APEDA Ministry of commerce and industry, GOI, New Delhi-110016

*Email ID: talaviyaharshang@gmail.com

The article is revised by Mr. V K Vidyarthi, General Manager, APEDA, Ministry of commerce and industry, GOI, New Delhi-110016

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