Effect of Different Nutrient Management Options on Rice under System Method of Cultivation – A review

Author(s): P.  Rajitha and K.I. Reddy | International Journal of Plant, Animal and Environmental Sciences | January – March 2014

Rice (Oryza sativa (L.)) is one of the most important stable food crops in the world. In Asia, more than two billion people are getting 60-70 per cent of their energy requirement from rice and its derived products. In India, rice occupies an area of 44 million hectare with an average production of 90 million tonnes with productivity of 2.0 tonnes per hectare. Demand for rice is growing every year and it is estimated that in 2010 and 2025 AD the requirement would be 100 and 140 million tonnes respectively. To sustain present food self-sufficiency and to meet future food requirements, India has to increase its rice productivity by 3 per cent per annum [21]. Rice cultivation requires large quantity of water and for producing one kg rice, about 3000 – 5000 litres of water depending on the different rice cultivation methods such as transplanted rice, direct sown rice (wet seeded), alternate wetting and drying method (AWD), system of rice intensification (SRI) and aerobic rice. Owing to increasing water scarcity, a shifting trend towards less water demanding crops against rice is noticed in most part of the India and this warrants alternate methods of rice cultivation that aims at higher water and crop productivity. There are evidences that cultivation of rice through system of rice intensification (SRI) can increase rice yields by two to three fold compared to current yield levels.

Download link: http://www.ijpaes.com/admin/php/uploads/447_pdf.pdf

‘Climate Smart’ Farms Key To Feeding The World

http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2014/02/07/climate-smart-farms-key-to-feeding-the-world/
A family in Orissa, India plants 'climate smart' rice using a System of Rice Intensification. Photo by Beth Hoffman.
A family in Orissa, India plants ‘climate smart’ rice using a System of Rice Intensification. Photo by Beth Hoffman.
The bad news is that it looks like climate change is here to stay.  The good news is that there are a number of cost effective, sustainable methods farmers can adopt immediately to lessen the blow.
I talked with Sonja Vermeulen, Head of Research for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security about what farmers can do in the face of a changing climate. [See “With Climate Change, What’s Better For The Farm Is Better For The Planet” for more information and a related graphic].
Beth Hoffman: Can you summarize – What are some of the main “take aways” from the data CGIAR has collected over the years regarding climate adaptation and mitigation for farmers?  If you were going to relate just a few things that were most important, what would you tell people?
Sonja Vermeulen: One of the key messages is that there are potential triple wins – for adaptation, mitigation and food security – which is increasingly being called “climate smart agriculture.”
A simple example is, if a farmer increased the organic matter in their soil, that increases the carbon storage – a mitigation function – but more organic matter also means better water capacity.  So that means you are much better able to deal with delayed onset of rains or dry spells, which are the kinds of problems farmers are dealing with under climate change.  The increased organic content would also raise the fertility of the soil which would also be better for yields and for food security.
There are also many things that farmers can do on their own, by themselves, soon, like increasing the diversity of what they’ve got planted, or changing the planting dates and what they feed to animals.  That’s very good within near term.
But for longer term climate change on a wider scale, we need bigger actions – what people are calling “transformative adaptation.”  An example would be that coffee systems are extremely sensitive to temperature, and science is predicting that in countries like Nicaragua and Colombia as soon as 2030 farmers might lose up to 50% of their growing area or more.  So there you need much bigger adaptation actions – farmers would have to move out of coffee and into a different crop and coffee companies would need to change where they are sourcing their beans.
It is also important to note that there is also a lot that government policies and companies can do to help.  For example, farmers often need support in order to make changes.  Sometimes that is with direct investment, as we can see with the example of mangrove improvements or improving infrastructure. Access to better roads or inputs, for example, can really help farmers, particularly in developing nations.
Policy changes too,  like promoting agroforestry, can also make a big difference.  In Niger, for example, over 5 million hectares – an additional 20 million trees – have been planted by farmers themselves on their own farms.  What allowed that to happen, among other things, was a simple change in law that allowed farmers to have a resource ownership over the trees, whereas before it was owned by the Forest Department and there wasn’t much incentive to plant trees.  So this simple change in policy at a national level allowed this huge scale to be reached and farmers reaped the benefits of that.
BH: It strikes me that most of the techniques CCAFS talks about are very “low tech” – mixing cropping systems, rotating crops and livestock, using wild plant varieties, etc.  Is it true that many of the solutions CCAFS found to help in the face of climate change are not high tech?
Certainly in terms of moving quickly and effectively on adaptation in low resource, small holder, developing countries, the largest gains are with fairly low tech, established technologies. Many of those practices have been used for decades, if not centuries.  For example, digging terraces to manage erosion and making sure there are buffers of mangroves – these are things we already knew about.
But in some cases there are new techniques, like alternate wetting and drying of rice fields.  In 2005, farmers and researchers learned that if you drain rice fields periodically, and re-wet, farmers can get a lot of savings in irrigation and energy costs.  A side benefit was that it also lowers methane emissions from rice (rice fields are one of biggest methane emitters).  A great additional win was higher yields.  There are also very high tech, more sophisticated farming methods that can help, like micro dosing – pumping in exactly the right amount water and nutrients directly to the roots.
For the most part, the “new” technologies specific to climate are focused on – how can we predict patterns better and communicate that information effectively to farmers?   Farmers – particularly in poorer countries – are very widely dispersed and may not have high literacy.  And so we need to do a lot of work to get farmers better climate information so they can make better decisions on a day by day, year by year basis.
Thinking about the future of food security and feeding the 9 billion under climate change doesn’t just require attention to how much food we are producing.  There are also trade barriers, rising food prices, and distribution which are also issues.  Can we also find better ways to distribute and waste less food?  An FAO report last September found we throw away 1/3 of food, and so solving consumption patterns is also part of the puzzle.
BH: What makes these methods “sustainable”?  How are you using the term?
A big theme that is emerging is an idea of sustainable intensification.
The idea here is that one of the biggest impacts farming has on greenhouse gas emissions – but also on biodiversity – is its impact on forest clearance.  It actually makes more sense to grow more on smaller area – even if that means using more inputs like fertilizer – so as long as what you do at the same time is leave a larger area of forest.  You need to think at the landscape level when you are thinking about if what is going on on the farm is sustainable or not.
That said, we also want to think about what can be done to increase yields on smaller areas while increasing inputs as little as possible.  You want to not use more fertilizer, not to use more energy, but in some cases you will have to do a little of that, especially in very low input systems in Africa where they use less than 5% of fertilizer levels used in Asia for instance.
And so we might see things which have not traditionally counted as “sustainable” or “ecolological” in this case considered good practice, as long as it saves forests.  What we are saying is what we don’t have a vision of absolute perfection, where we want every farm to be self contained with internal recycling on farm – we just don’t think that is achievable.  But we do think that almost any farming system in world can improve its sustainability.  They can all improve their environmental management.
Advanced economies have made huge gains here as well.  Between 1990-2010, Denmark decreased its agricultural emissions by 20 percent, with no loss whatsoever in profitability.  So there is enormous scope in becoming more sustainable in almost any farming system.
Sustainability also needs to take into account the whole food chain.  For example, you might argue that finding ways to grow tobacco or a similar crop with less fertilizer would be really good.  But at a larger scale you may say – maybe that is not really the best use of our agricultural land, and in fact the best thing we can do for sustainability is to grow something else.  Tobacco is particularly unpopular now around the world, but that would also apply to the amount of meat we produce or dairy.  You would need to weigh the benefits as compared to more plant based diets.

How can we grow more rice – with less land, water and pollution?

http://www.edf.org/blog/2013/07/31/how-can-we-grow-more-rice-%E2%80%93-less-land-water-and-pollution

Kritee / Published July 31, 2013 in Economics

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(This post was co-authored by Richie Ahuja.)

Rice feeds the world. It provides more calories to humans than any other food, and more than a billion people depend on rice cultivation for their livelihoods.

In fact, rice is central to existence in many nations. For example, in 2008, when rice prices tripled, the World Bank estimated that an additional 100 million people were pushed into poverty. No wonder that changes in the price and availability of rice have caused social unrest in developing countries.

To keep rice prices affordable as populations increase, the International Rice Research Institute estimates that anadditional 8-10 million tons of rice will need to be produced worldwide every year. But a report from the International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that by 2050 rice prices will increase some 35% because of yield losses due to climate change. Some 90% of the world’s rice is grown in Asia, on more than 200 million small scale farms, most no larger than an acre.

These colliding trends mean that the world must learn to produce more rice – and to do it with less land, less water and less labor. That means devising more efficient and profitable production systems that are resilient to climate change and contribute less to it. This is exactly the challenge EDF and its partners have taken up in India, a country where roughly 500 million of the world’s 2.3 billion people in small-scale farming families live and earn $2 – $4 a day.

Rice farming releases greenhouse gasses more potent than carbon

When organic material decays without oxygen, as it does in water-logged rice paddies, soil microbes generate methane, a greenhouse gas with 25 times more warming potential than CO2. In India, rice methane emission account for about 10% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Lately there is growing awareness that when rice is grown under dryer and aerated conditions, nitrous oxide emissions from rice can be as (or even more) significant as methane emissions. Nitrous oxide has about 300 times more warming potential than CO2. It has not yet been estimated what percentage of nitrous oxide emissions in India, or for that matter other rice growing regions in Asia, come from rice cultivation.

Partnering with NGOs in India yields a promising future

The rice farmers in South India are working with non-governmental organizations that are part of a broad coalition called the Fair Climate Network. EDF’s science team is working with these NGOs to develop an environmentally sustainable and economically profitable way to farm rice that will increase climate resilience and decrease GHG emissions.

With our partners, we are developing rice farming practices that change water, fertilizer and organic matter management such that GHG emissions go down as rice yield and farm profitability stay stable or go up. Our partners are working with thousands of rice farmers to record all the farm level data (methods of tilling and weeding, types of fertilizer used, amount of water used and harvest yields) necessary to understand the economic and environmental impacts of their work.

We have also developed protocols to quantify everything: yields, production costs, and emissions of nitrous oxide and methane from the rice fields. Our partners have even set up field laboratories in rural South India to constantly monitor GHG emissions. Our preliminary research work in fields “adopted” by EDF’s partners shows that there is potential to reduce GHG emissions by 2-5 metric tons per acre per year which is same as taking of an average American car off the road for a year.

Eventually, we expect to have enough data to make a case for low carbon farming of rice throughout all of South India. If low carbon rice farming becomes the standard just in all rice growing farms in South Indian states where we are currently active, we can decrease GHG emissions by 40-100 million tons of CO2e per year while saving water, improving farm incomes and protecting rice yields. This reduction is roughly equal to taking 10 million American cars off the road or taking 10-20 coal power plants off the grid. To make this possible, we will have to raise resources for outreach and the transactions costs of monitoring and verifying the GHG reductions.

The potential for this kind of research to support development, food and political security, while mitigating climate change is enormous. That’s something to think about the next time you have a bowl of rice.