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0955 Opportunities for Improving Asian Agriculture Agroecology: Observations from the System of Rice Intensificatiion

  1. Opportunities for Improving Asian Agriculture Agroecologically: Observations from the System of Rice Intensification ECHO Conference on Asian Agriculture Chiangmai – September 21, 2009 Norman Uphoff Cornell University
  2. What is Agroecology? Most simply: a superdiscipline based on concepts/ principles/insights/practices that rely on changes in the management of plants, soil, water & nutrients -- to capitalize on existing genetic potentials in crops, animals and soil systems, rather than on (a) changes in genetic potentials, or (b) external inputs -- to get more productive phenotypes thru ecological dynamics/interactions
  3. Agroecological principles understand and manage crops and animals not as isolated species -- but as organisms that always function (having evolved) in an ecological context
  4. ‘Ascending Migration of Endophytic Rhizobia, from Roots and Leaves, inside Rice Plants and Assessment of Benefits to Rice Growth Physiology’ Feng Chi et al.(2005), Applied and Envir. Microbiology 71, 7271-7278 Rhizo- bium test strain Total plant root volume/ pot (cm3 ) Shoot dry weight/ pot (g) Net photo- synthetic rate (μmol-2 s-1 ) Water utilization efficiency Area (cm2 ) of flag leaf Grain yield/ pot (g) Ac-ORS571 210 ± 36A 63 ± 2A 16.42 ± 1.39A 3.62 ± 0.17BC 17.64 ± 4.94ABC 86 ± 5A SM-1021 180 ± 26A 67 ± 5A 14.99 ± 1.64B 4.02 ± 0.19AB 20.03 ± 3.92A 86 ± 4A SM-1002 168 ± 8AB 52 ± 4BC 13.70 ± 0.73B 4.15 ± 0.32A 19.58 ± 4.47AB 61 ± 4B R1-2370 175 ± 23A 61 ± 8AB 13.85 ± 0.38B 3.36 ± 0.41C 18.98 ± 4.49AB 64 ± 9B Mh-93 193 ± 16A 67 ± 4A 13.86 ± 0.76B 3.18 ± 0.25CD 16.79 ± 3.43BC 77 ± 5A Control 130 ± 10B 47 ± 6C 10.23 ± 1.03C 2.77 ± 0.69D 15.24 ± 4.0C 51 ± 4C
  5. Agroecological principle #1: SUPPORT the recycling of biomass to optimize nutrient availability in the soil and balance nutrient flows in the soil and biosphere over time
  6. Agroecological principle #2: PROVIDE the most favorable soil conditions which enhance soil structure and the functioning of soil systems, esp. by managing organic matter and by enhancing soil biotic activity
  7. Agroecological principle #3: MINIMIZE losses of energy and other growth factors within plants’ microenvironments -- both above & below ground -- in ways that can maximize resource-use efficiency
  8. Agroecological principle #4: DIVERSIFY the species and the genetic resources within agroecosystems, both over time and over space
  9. Agroecological principle #5: ENHANCE beneficial biological interactions and synergies among all of the components of agrobiodiversity, thereby promoting key ecological processes and services (Reijntjes et al., 1992; Altieri 2002;)
  10. Agroecology can be summarized in these recommendations: 1. Enhance the life in the soil (in soil systems), recognizing the precedence of soil biology which shapes soil’s chemistry and physics 2.Improve the growing environment (E) of crops in order to induce more productive phenotypes from any given crop genotype (G)
  11. CUBA: rice plants of same variety (VN 2084) and same age (52 DAP)
  12. What is SRI? Most simply, SRI is a set of concepts/ principles/insights/practices that change the management of plants, soil, water & nutrients: (a) to produce larger, more effective, longer-lived ROOT SYSTEMS, and (b) to enrich the LIFE IN THE SOIL to achieve more productive,healthier PHENOTYPES from any GENOTYPE
  13. CAMBODIA: Farmer in Takeo Province: yield of 6.72 tons/ha > 2-3 t/ha
  14. NEPAL: Single rice plant grown with SRI methods, Morang district
  15. MALI: Farmer in the Timbuktu region showing the difference between ‘normal’ rice and SRI rice plant 2007: 1st year trials - SRI yield 8.98 t/ha control yield 6.7 t/ha (best mgmt practices) 2008: trials expanded with 5 farmers in 12 villages doing on-farm comparison trials (N=60)
  16.   SRI Control Farmer Practice Yield t/ha* 9.1 5.49 4.86 Standard Error (SE) 0.24 0.27 0.18 SRI compared to Control (%) + 66 100 -11 SRI compared to Farmer Practice (%) + 87 + 13 100 Number of Farmers 53 53 60 • * adjusted to 14% grain moisture content Rice grain yield for SRI plots, control plots, and farmer-practice plots, Goundam circle, Timbuktu region, 2008
  17. Indonesia: Rice plants same variety and same age in Lombok Province
  18. Indonesia: Results of on-farm comparative evaluations of SRI by Nippon Koei team, 2002-06 • No. of trials: 12,133 (over 9 seasons) • Total area covered: 9,429.1 hectares • Ave. increase in yield: 3.3 t/ha (78%) • Reduction in water requirements: 40% • Reduction in fertilizer use: 50% • Reduction in costs of production: 20% (Sato and Uphoff, CAB Review, 2007)
  19. AFGHANISTAN: SRI field in Baghlan Province, supported by Aga Khan Foundation Natural Resource Management program
  20. SRI field in Baghlan Province, Afghanistan at 30 days
  21. SRI rice plant @ 72 days after transplanting – 133 tillers Yield was calculated at 11.56 tons/ha
  22. IRAQ: Comparison trials at Al-Mishkhab Rice Research Station, Najaf
  23. SRI originated in Madagascar Initially called le Systéme de Riziculture Intensive (in Latin America, SICA) by Henri de Laulanié, SJ, who, by 1984, assembled SRI’s counterintuitive practices after 2 decades of working with small, poor farmers to improve their production and incomes without requiring any dependence on inputs
  24. Fr. de Laulanié making field visit shortly before his death in 1995
  25. MADAGASCAR: Rice field grown with SRI methods
  26. Rice sector needs in 21st century (IRRI/DG, Intl. Year of Rice, 2004) • Increased land productivity-- higher yield • Higher water productivity -- crop per drop • Technology that is accessible for the poor • Technology that is environmentally friendly • Greater resistance to pests and diseases • Tolerance of abiotic stresses (climate change) • Better grain quality for consumers, and • Greater profitability for farmers
  27. SRI practices can meet all these needs: • Higher yields by 50-100%, or more • Water reduction of 25-50% (also rainfed) • Little need for capital expenditure • Little or no need for agrochemical inputs • Pest and disease resistance • Drought tolerance, and little/no lodging • Better grain quality, less chalkiness • Lower costs of production by 10-20% → resulting in higher income for farmers
  28. Additional benefits of SRI practice: • Time to maturity reduced by 1-2 weeks • Milling outturn is higher by about 15% • Other crops’ performance is also being improved by SRI concepts and practices, e.g., wheat, sugar cane, millet, teff, others • Human resource development for farmers through participatory approach • Diversification and modernization of smallholder agriculture; can adapt to larger- scale production through mechanization
  29. Requirements/constraints for SRI: For best results, we need: •Water control to apply small amounts reliably (rainfed SRI now being developed) •More labor at first during learning phase; but SRI can even become labor-saving --also, SRI practices can become mechanized •Skill and motivation of farmers is key! •Crop protection in some situations SRI is a matter of degree more than of kind
  30. SRI is Ideas/Insights; not Technology 1. Use young seedlings to preserve growth potential -- however, direct seeding is becoming an option 2. Avoid trauma to the roots --transplant quickly, carefully, shallow; no inversion of root tips upward 3. Give plants wider spacing – one plant per hill, square pattern for better root/canopy growth 4. Soil is kept moist but unflooded – mostly aerobic, not continuously saturated (hypoxic) 5. Actively aerate the soil as much as possible 6. Enhance soil organic matter as much as possible Practices 1-3 support more PLANT growth; practices 4-6 enhance the growth and health of ROOTS and soil BIOTA
  31. Two Paradigms for Agriculture: • GREEN REVOLUTION strategy was to: (a) Change the genetic potential of plants, and (b) Increase the use of external inputs -- more water, more fertilizer and biocides • SRI (AGROECOLOGY) changes instead the management of plants, soil, water & nutrients: (a) Promote the growth of root systems, and (b) Increase the abundance and diversity of soil organisms to better enlist their benefits The goal is to produce better PHENOTYPES
  32. SRI 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 IH H FH MR WR YRStage Organdryweight(g/hill) CK I H H FH MR WR YR Yellow leaf and sheath Panicle Leaf Sheath Stem 47.9% 34.7% “Non-Flooding Rice Farming Technology in Irrigated Paddy Field” Dr. Tao Longxing, China National Rice Research Institute, 2004
  33. China National Rice Research Institute (CNRRI): factorial trials, 2004 & 2005 using two super-hybrid varieties -- seeking to break ‘plateau’ limiting yields Standard Rice Mgmt • 30-day seedlings • 20x20 cm spacing • Continuous flooding • Fertilization: – 100% chemical New Rice Mgmt (~SRI) • 20-day seedlings • 30x30 cm spacing • Alternate wetting and drying (AWD) • Fertilization: – 50% chemical, – 50% organic
  34. Average super-rice YIELD (kg/ha) with new rice management (SRI) vs.standard rice management at different PLANT DENSITIES ha-1 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000 150,000 180,000 210,000 NRM SRM
  35. 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 14000 0 100 200 N uptake (kg/ha) Grainyield(kg/ha) Grain yield SRI (kg/ha) Grainyield Conv (kg/ha) Poly.:Grain yield SRI (kg/ha) Poly.: Grain yield Conv. (kg/ha) Rice grain yield response to N uptake Regression relationship between N uptake and grain yield for SRI and conventional methods using QUEFTS model (Barison, 2002) – same for P and K
  36. SRI LANKA: Rice paddies,with same soil, same variety, same irrigation system and same drought, three weeks after water was stopped: conventional (left), SRI (right)
  37. Journal of Sichuan Agricultural Science and Technology (2009), Vol. 2, No. 23 “Introduction of Land-Cover Integrated Technologies with Water Saving and High Yield” -- Lv S.H., Zeng X.Z., Ren G.H., Zhang F.S. Yield increase in normal year is 150-200 kg/mu (2.25-3.0 t/ha); while in drought year, increase is 200 kg/mu or more (≥3.0 t/ha) • In a normal year, net income with the new methods can be increased from 100 ¥/mu to 600-800 ¥/mu, i.e., from $220/ha to >$1,500/ha, while • In drought year with the new methods, net income can go from a loss of 200-300 ¥/mu to a profit of 300-500 ¥/mu, i.e., from a loss of $550/ha to a profit of $880/ha
  38. VIETNAM: Farmer in Dông Trù village – after typhoon
  39. Reduction in Diseases and Pests Vietnam National IPM Program evaluation based on data from 8 provinces, 2005-06 Spring season Summer season SRI Plots Farmer Plots Differ- ence SRI Plots Farmer Plots Differ- ence Sheath blight 6.7% 18.1% 63.0% 5.2% 19.8% 73.7% Leaf blight -- -- -- 8.6% 36.3% 76.5% Small leaf folder * 63.4 107.7 41.1% 61.8 122.3 49.5% Brown plant hopper * 542 1,440 62.4% 545 3,214 83.0% AVERAGE 55.5% 70.7% * Insects/m2
  40. PeriodPeriod Mean max.Mean max. temp.temp. 00 CC Mean min.Mean min. temp.temp. 00 CC No. ofNo. of sunshine hrssunshine hrs 1 – 151 – 15 NovNov 27.727.7 19.219.2 4.94.9 16–3016–30 NovNov 29.629.6 17.917.9 7.57.5 1 – 15 Dec1 – 15 Dec 29.129.1 14.614.6 8.68.6 16–31 Dec16–31 Dec 28.128.1 12.212.2** 8.68.6 Meteorological and yield data from ANGRAU IPM evaluation, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2006 SeasonSeason Normal (t/ha)Normal (t/ha) SRI (t/ha)SRI (t/ha) Rabi 2005-06Rabi 2005-06 2.252.25 3.473.47 Kharif 2006Kharif 2006 0.21*0.21* 4.164.16 * Low yield due to cold injury (see above) *Sudden drop in min. temp. during 16–21 Dec. (9.2-9.8o C for 5 days)
  41. Measured Differences in Grain Quality Conv. Methods SRI Methods Characteristic (3 spacings) (3 spacings) Difference Chalky kernels (%) 39.89 – 41.07 23.62 – 32.47 -30.7% General chalkiness (%) 6.74 – 7.17 1.02 – 4.04 -65.7% Milled rice outturn (%) 41.54 – 51.46 53.58 – 54.41 +16.1% Head milled rice (%) 38.87 – 39.99 41.81 – 50.84 +17.5% Paper by Prof. Ma Jun, Sichuan Agricultural University, presented at 10th conference on “Theory and Practice for High-Quality, High-Yielding Rice in China,” Haerbin, 8/2004
  42. Status of SRI: As of 1999 Known and practiced only in Madagascar
  43. Spread of SRI demonstrations and use in 10 years Up to 1999 Madagascar 1999-2000 China, Indonesia 2000-01 Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cuba, India, Laos, Nepal, Myanmar, Philippines, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Thailand 2002-03 Benin, Guinea, Mozambique, Peru 2004-05 Senegal, Mali, Pakistan, Vietnam 2006 Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, Zambia 2007 Afghanistan 2008 Brazil, Egypt, Rwanda, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Timor Leste 2009 Ghana . . .
  44. THANK YOU • Web page: • Email: or

Notas del editor

  1. Picture provided by Dr. Rena Perez. These two rice plants are ‘twins’ in that they were planted on the same day in the same nursery from the same seed bag. The one on the right was taken out at 9 days and transplanted into an SRI environment. The one on the left was kept in the flooded nursery until its 52nd day, when it was taken out for transplanting (in Cuba, transplanting of commonly done between 50 and 55 DAP). The difference in root growth and tillering (5 vs. 42) is spectacular. We think this difference is at least in part attributable to the contributions of soil microorganisms producing phytohormones in the rhizosphere that benefit plant growth and performance.
  2. Picture provided by Rajendra Uprety, District Agricultural Development Office, Morang District, Nepal. Again, this is a single SRI plant grown from a single seed.
  3. Picture provided by Mr. Shichi Sato, project leader for DISIMP project in Eastern Indonesia (S. Sulawasi and W. Nusa Tenggara), where > 1800 farmers using SRI on >1300 ha have had 7.6 t/ha average SRI yield (dried, unhusked paddy, 14% moisture content), 84% more than the control plots, with 40% reduction in water use, and 25% reduction in the costs of production.
  4. This picture was provided by Association Tefy Saina, showing Fr. de Laulanie the year before his death in 1995, at age 75.
  5. Picture provided by George Rakotondrabe, Landscape Development Interventions project.
  6. This is the most simple description of what SRI entails. Transplanting is not necessary since direct seeding, with the other SRI practices, also produces similarly good results. The principle of SRI is that if transplanting is done, very young seedling should be used, and there should be little or no trauma to the young plant roots. These are often ‘abused’ in transplanting process, being allowed to dry out (desiccate), or are knocked to remove soil, etc.
  7. SRI is often hard to accept because it does not depend on either of the two main strategies that made the Green Revolution possible. It does not require any change in the rice variety used (genotype) or an increase in external inputs. Indeed, the latter can be reduced. SRI methods improve the yields of all rice varieties evaluated so far – modern and traditional, improved and local. The highest yields have been attained with HYVs and hybrid varieties (all SRI yields >15 t/ha), but ‘unimproved’ varieties can give yields in the 6-12 t/ha range when soil has been improved through SRI methods, so give the higher market price for these latter varieties, growing them can be more profitable for farmers.
  8. Figures from a paper presented by Dr. Tao to international rice conference organized by the China National Rice Research Institute for the International Year of Rice and World Food Day, held in Hangzhou, October 15-17, 2004. Dr. Tao has been doing research on SRI since 2001 to evaluate its effects in physiological terms.
  9. From MS thesis for Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, based on field research in Madagascar in 2000-2001. QUEFTS model was used to assess relation between uptake of nutrients (N, P, and K analyses were all essentially the same) and grain production. The higher conversion rate of N uptake to grain output could be due to greater uptake also of micronutrients – through the larger, better functioning root system of SRI plants, so that the plants can better utilize macronutrients in grain production.
  10. Prof. Ma Jun in his paper to the Haerbin conference included data on rice quality that he had collected. They showed SRI rice grains (from three different spacings within the SRI range) to be clearly superior in two major respects to conventionally-grown grains (two spacings). A reduction in chalkiness makes the rice more palatable. An increase in outturn is a ‘bonus’ on top of the higher yields of paddy (unmilled) rice that farmers get with SRI methods. We have seen this kind of improvement in outturn rates in Cuba, India and Sri Lanka, about 15%. More research on other aspects of SRI grain quality should be done, including nutritional content.
  11. Tefy Saina is more comfortable communicating in French language,but it can communicate in English and reads English very well. CIIFAD maintains worldwide contacts on SRI through the internet. Queries are invited, directed to CIIFAD generally or to Norman Uphoff specifically. The SRI web page maintained by CIIFAD in cooperation with Tefy Saina has recent information on SRI experience in countries around the world.