Smoke from agricultural fires in Western India

Smoke from agricultural fires in Western India  (the red dots seen in the image) obscure most of the Punjab region of India. This area is a major source of agriculture for India, producing approximately two-thirds of the country’s food.

Wheat and rice are the dominant crops, producing 40% and 60%, respectively, of the country’s total production; Punjab also produces corn, fruit, cotton, sugarcane, and other cereals. Farmers use fire to clear the fields of weeds and residue from previous years crops and to add nutrients to the soil. The land is, and has long been, extremely fertile; however, agricultural production was greatly increased by the use of biocidesfertilizers, irrigation, and hybrid crops.

While these techniques are highly efficient, they may not be sustainable for the long term. Instead, some of the more traditional agricultural practices are being promoted; these include low or no-till, contour plowing, the use of cover crops, and crop rotation.

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