Spray urea instead, advise experts to overcome air pollution caused by smoke
Shopian: At the end of the autumn season, when fruit growers and other farmers are about to conclude their farm chores, one of their tasks is the burning of fallen leaves, which is in no way useful for them or for the environment.
Till about a decade ago, people in Kashmir used to make charcoal out of the fallen leaves, but now the practice is outdated and instead they simply burn the leaves to ash to keep insects out of their orchards and fields.
Experts say that this burning of leaves causes huge air pollution. They suggest more environmental-friendly means to destroy leaves. Javid Ahmad, a horticulture expert, says that urea spray on the leaves, both which are on trees and fallen, is a better way to decompose the leaves than burning them.
“People can start spraying urea from the 10th of November to destroy the leaves. This also protects trees from snowfall damage as well as decomposes the leaves into manure. People can spray urea on heaps of fallen leaves to decompose them,” he said.
In evening, in most of rural Kashmir, the sky turns foggy with all the smoke in the air. Many people complain of allergy in eyes and chest problems due to the heavy amount of smoke in the air.
Dr Mohammad Ismail, a senior doctor at district hospital Shopian, says that this smoke is nothing but air pollution. “When the temperature comes down, there occurs a rise in chest-related problems and this smoke coming out of the leaves and branches is adding to the problems, especially for the elderly and co-morbid people,” he said.
Tree leaves when burnt emit carbon dioxide as well as carbon monoxide. Also, the leaves of fruit trees contain many fungicides which release more lethal gases into the air.
However, the smoky sky continues to prevail every year for more than a month or till it snows in the region.
For leaf litter on orchard floor, urea can be sprayed at very high concentrations, although 5% (5kg/100litre of water) is recommended as it is economical and effective. However, growers are advised to consult an expert if they are going to spray such concentration on live leaves on trees.
Experts also advise fruit growers to make small heaps of leaves in an open space of their orchards and spray more than 5 per cent urea on it, which is a good way to get rid of insects and unwanted leaves.