Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 89, Issue 2, pp 143–157 | Cite as

Assessment of trace gases, carbon and nitrogen emissions from field burning of agricultural residues in India

  • Shivraj Sahai
  • C. Sharma
  • S. K. Singh
  • Prabhat K. Gupta
Original Article


Field burning of crop residue (FBCR) is becoming a growing environmental concern in developing countries. In this instance, a comprehensive crop-wise and spatially distributed study on the FBCR emissions from India for the period 1980 through 2010 have been undertaken, that covers: residue generation, its types, use pattern, and estimates of carbon, nitrogen, CH4, CO, N2O and NOX emissions; along with associated uncertainties. FBCR contributed about 44 and 14% of the non-biofuel biomass and total biomass burning, respectively in India in the year 2000. The total dry residue generated are estimated as 217, 239 and 253 Tg, of which 45, 60 and 63 Tg of dry biomass are estimated to be subjected to FBCR in the years 1994, 2005 and 2010, respectively. Wheat and rice crops together accounted for about 76% of this. Burning of such huge amount of biomass is estimated to emit 22.4, 24.4 and 26.1 Tg of carbon; 0.30, 0.33 and 0.35 Tg of nitrogen; 4.18, 4.59 and 4.86 Tg carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases (GHG, viz., CH4 and N2O; which is over 1% of the Indian agriculture sector GHG emissions); 2951, 3,240 and 3,431 Gg of CO; and 120.8, 132.9 and 140.6 Gg NOx emissions in 1994, 2005 and 2010, respectively. Further, the Indian states of U.P, Punjab, Haryana, M.P, Maharashtra, T.N, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and W.B have been found to contribute maximum to the Indian FBCR emissions. FBCR avoidance and optimum utilization of crop-residue resource is urgently required for agro-ecosystem sustainability in the region.


Crop-residue GHG Inventory Biomass-burning Carbon–nitrogen loss 



The authors are grateful to Ministry of Environment & Forests (GOI) and GEF/UNDP for their financial support under National Communication (NATCOM) Program and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for fellowship to S.S. Authors are indebted to Late A.P. Mitra for his encouragement. Thanks are also due to Dr. Vikram Kumar, former Director NPL for his support. Help of Mr. Ankur Saraswat, NPL is highly appreciated. Help from Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (India), Ministry of Agriculture (India), Central Statistical Organization (India) and Indian Agricultural Statistical Research Institute, New Delhi for various related information are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shivraj Sahai
    • 1
  • C. Sharma
    • 1
  • S. K. Singh
    • 2
  • Prabhat K. Gupta
    • 1
  1. 1.National Physical LaboratoryNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Delhi College of EngineeringUniversity of DelhiDelhiIndia

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