What is decomposition?
- When a plant, animal, or insect dies, that plant, animal, or insect is broken into tiny pieces and those pieces become part of the soil. This is called decomposition.
- Bacteria, fungi, and some worms break down dead plants, animals, and insects. The bacteria, fungi, and worms are called decomposers. Decomposers need to eat some of the dead things so they can live and grow.
- The tiny pieces left over after decomposers eat become part of the soil. Living plants take what they need from these pieces so they can grow. The parts of these pieces that living plants take to grow are called nutrients. So, living plants make their own food, but they also need to get nutrients from the soil. Decomposers help provide these nutrients.
Common decomposers in an ecosystem are:
Why in News:
- The Chief Minister of Delhi appealed to the Centre to ask the neighbouring States to use the bio decomposers to prevent pollution.
Why are bio decomposers needed to protect Delhi from pollution?
- Post the harvest season in Punjab and Haryana, a farmer barely has 20-25 days to sow the next crop of wheat. During this time, the farmers need to get rid of the stubble to clear their fields. The most convenient method to do this is to burn the stubble.
- Taking out the rice chaff to prepare the fields for winter sowing is a customary activity in Punjab and Haryana.
- It begins in October and peaks in November, corresponding with the southwest monsoon’s departure.
Issue with stubble burning
- Farmers in northern India burn about 23 million tonnes of paddy stubble, and the plummeting temperatures and wind spread the smoke far and wide.
- Pollutants and particulate matter (PM) from chaff, as well as other sources of pollution in Delhi, become trapped in the lower atmosphere, aggravating winter pollution.
- Crop burning was responsible for approximately 40% of the near-surface PM 2.5 in Delhi in 2016, which was one of the city’s worst polluted years.
Why bio decomposers?
- 90% of the farmers witnessed the stubble decomposed within 15-20 days, whereas it would previously take 40-50 days.
- The soil needed to be ploughed 6-7 times earlier, after using the spray the soil needs to be ploughed only once or twice.
- The organic carbon, nitrogen, bacterial and fungal content in the soil increased after using the bio-decomposer and the stubble essentially ended up becoming a manure for the soil.
How does it work?
- Under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, the dormant form of decomposing bacteria and the cell mass of fungal spore speed the decomposition process.
- These Bacteria and Fungi are capable of decomposing organic raw materials such as agricultural stubbles, animal manure, and producing CO2, ammonia, water, heat, and humus in the process.
- These bacteria and fungi speed up the decomposition process, allowing the organic raw material, agricultural stubbles, to disintegrate faster.
- The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed ‘decomposer’ capsules, which when mixed in a water solution and sprayed on land, gets to work on paddy stubble, softening and decomposing it to the extent it can mix with soil and act as compost.
- It is essentially a fungi-based liquid solution that can soften hard stubble to the extent that it can be easily mixed with soil in the field to act as compost.
- This would then rule out the need to burn the stubble, and also help in retaining the essential microbes and nutrients in soil that are otherwise damaged when the residue is burned.