Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, November 7
Despite a ban on paddy stubble burning, farmers dispose of paddy straw by setting it afire. This is leading to serious environmental consequences that have deleterious impact both on human and soil health.
But the scenario is not all that bleak as agricultural experts believe that paddy straw is not a useless waste. It can be employed in the cultivation of mushrooms and as a thatched hut for growing mushrooms, says Dr Shammi Kapoor, Dean, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, PAU, Ludhiana.
“It can be used for button mushroom composting, oyster mushroom production and also for growing the summer variety of mushrooms. The spent compost paddy straw after harvesting
can be utilised as manure for vegetables,” said Dr Kapoor.
In the economics of mushroom cultivation, the construction cost of cropping sheds is a significant factor. Mushroom is an indoor crop and requires sheds or growing houses. Paddy straw can be used conveniently for making ‘mushroom growing houses’. It reduces the cost of mushroom cultivation. Experts especially recommend it for small and marginal farmers who have little or no land holdings.
“These thatched huts maintain temperature and humidity for the production of mushrooms. The construction of concrete ‘growing’ rooms is much costlier in comparison to the paddy straw thatched huts. Moreover, in thatched huts made of paddy straw, mushrooms can be grown in all seasons of the year,” says Dr Shivani Sharma, a mycologist from the PAU.
In Punjab, there is an abundant availability of paddy straw which can be gainfully employed as a sustainable substrate for mushroom cultivation.
The university has already recommended the formula for compost preparation.
“Two-third quantity of wheat straw can be substituted by an equal quantity of paddy straw or the farmer can use equal quantity of wheat straw and paddy straw,” says Dr Sharma.
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