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Rice straw
and husks
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In 2008, about 620 million tons of rice straw and about 125 million tons of
husks (referred to as residues) were produced in Asia alone, and this
quantity is increasing every year. In most places, these residues have no
commercial value and are disposed off in various ways.
In intensive systems, where two or three crops are grown each year, the
time for residue decomposition is very short and the remaining residues
may disrupt soil preparation, crop establishment, and early crop growth.
Although residue retention is essential for sustainable soil management of
non-rice crops and mixed croppings systems (rice-upland crops), research
in long-term experiments has shown that complete residue removal has
no negative consequences for the productivity, sustainability, and soil
health of intensive double and triple-cropping rice systems.
However, where practiced, burning of rice residues causes severe air
pollution in some regions. The alternative, residue incorporation into the
soil, in turn causes methane emissions from rice fields, contributing to
climate change.

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