Agri Business

This Punjab plant may have the pollution solution

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 11, 2017

Sampurn Agri Ventures’ pilot plant in Fazilka in Punjab

Instead of burning, Sampurn Agri Ventures converts crop residue into manure, CNG

The burning of paddy straw has created an environmental storm by worsening the air quality in the Capital and its surroundings, but it may now yield a new way to make manure and compressed natural gas (CNG).

Chandigarh-based Sampurn Agri Ventures has not only developed a technology to convert this agricultural waste into manure and bio-CNG, but has already demonstrated its viability by running a pilot plant for three years at a stretch.

The pliot plant, at Fazilka in Punjab, is capable of using 20 tonnes of crop residue per day.

Each tonne of the agri waste produces 700 kg of manure and 140 kg of CNG, said Sanjeev Nagpal, Managing Director, Sampurn.

IOC signs up

The technology, perfected with the help of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, is so robust that the Indian Oil Corporation has evinced interest in exploiting it. Two months ago, IOC signed a memorandum of understanding with Sampurn, and is currently in the process of finalising an engineering design for setting up 40-odd plants in different parts of Punjab, said Nagpal.

An IOC official, when contacted by BusinessLine, confirmed that this was among a few technologies being considered by the oil major. According to him, the state-owned firm has drawn up plans to set up 200 to 250 plants that would use crop residue as feed at a cost of ₹5,000 crore. To begin with, it would set up a couple of plants in the coming year, he said.

According to Nagpal, the technology has been optimised to use agri-waste up to 70 tonnes per day. One such plant can come up in a cluster of 4 to 5 villages so that crop residue can be transported to the plant in an economical manner.

Manure production

As per the available estimates, India produces around 500 million tonnes of agri-waste every year. “If we convert this into CNG, the country can easily achieve self-sufficiency in CNG production,” said Nagpal.

But Nagpal said he was equally excited about the possibility of producing manure. This provides with a viable way to convert crop residues into manure, which could not only bring down the cost of cultivation but also improve soil fertility.

“At the beginning of green revolution, around 1966-67, 1 kg of NPK was yielding 80 kg of grain in Punjab. A study in 2008 showed that this yield dropped to 16 kg. In other words, to get to the same level of productivity, farmers in Punjab have been using five times more fertilisers. This has gone up further since then,” he said.

Nagpal has been paying farmers ₹2 for each kg of crop residue they supply. “This could serve as an incentive for farmers to clear their stubble without burning them,” he said.

“The demand for crop residue can actually give rise to a new set of entrepreneurs, who could take the task of removing crop residue from the fields for a fee, the same way combine harvesters are used for harvesting by a large number of small and medium farmers, said Nagpal.

According to him, farming activity in Punjab and neighbouring Haryana leaves behind an estimated 30 million tonnes of crop residue.

Published on December 11, 2017
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