Crop residue management is posing a serious problem in the rice (Oryza sativa)–wheat (Triticum aestivum) cropping system, which is widely practised in the Indian Subcontinent and China, and covers about 22.5 × 106 ha. The problem is serious because there is very little turn-around time between rice harvest and wheat sowing. Three practices, namely, residue removal, residue burning and residue incorporation were compared in two field experiments, one with the rice residues and the other with the wheat residues. Results obtained showed that both rice and wheat residues can be safely incorporated without any detrimental effects on the crops of rice or wheat grown immediately after incorporation. Incorporation of crop residue also improved soil fertility status as judged by organic carbon and available phosphorus and potassium contents. Residue incorporation should be preferred over residue burning, which results in the loss of valuable plant nutrients and is both an environmental and a health hazard.
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