Factory sludge nurtures fodder

 
By Megha Prakash
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

From paper factory to a farm i (Credit: AMIT SHANKER) Irrigated with industrial effluents

the global demand for meat and dairy products is estimated to grow to 283 million tonnes by 2010, up by 27 per cent from 2000. About three-fourths of this demand will come from developed countries, according to a report by the un Food and Agriculture Organisation. This growing market for dairy and meat products has, in turn, led to an ever-increasing demand for fodder by the livestock industry. In India, the demand is likely to grow to 1,060 million tonnes by 2010 from 817 million tonnes in 2006.

Cumbu Napier, a hybrid grass is well suited to cope with the increasing demand for fodder. Developed in 2000, it grows twice as abundantly as other fodder varieties, with a per hectare yield of 288 tonnes. Not only that, researchers from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University have found that Cumbu Napier grows better on industrial effluents. Animals love this grass because it is sweet and also rich in nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also low in oxalate content, which reduces the risk of poisoning.

The scientists recently analyzed the effect of solid waste and effluents from the paper industry on the grass yield. They grew the fodder on different plots irrigated either by water or industrial effluents. The results when compared to the yields from the plots irrigated with well water showed an increase: by 7.35 per cent in the second harvest and 10.35 per cent in the third harvest, said the scientists in Asian Journal of Experimental Science (Vol 22, No 3).

The finding is important for water-scarce areas where this method can be used in agriculture if the treated industrial effluents provide safe levels of micronutrients, said Y P Joshi from G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Uttarakhand.

A K Srivastava from Meerut University cautioned: "A toxic content analysis of the industrial waste is essential. It should be ensured that the toxins don't make their way to humans through cattle fed on this fodder."

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