Sunday, February 15, 2009

System of Rice Intensification

SRI or System Intensification of Rice is a methodology for increasing the productivity of irrigated rice cultivation by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients. SRI practices lead to healthier, more productive soil and plants by supporting greater root growth and by nurturing the abundance and diversity of soil organisms. The agroecological principles that contribute to SRI effectiveness have good scientific bases. SRI concepts and methods have been successfully adapted to upland unirrigated rice, and they are now being extrapolated to other crops like millet, wheat and sugar cane.

SRI does not require the purchase of new seeds or the use of new high-yielding varieties. Although the highest yields with SRI have been obtained from improved varieties, most traditional or local varieties of rice respond well to SRI practices and command a higher market price. And while chemical fertilizer and agrochemicals can be applied with SRI, their use is not required as organic materials (compost, manure or any decomposed vegetation) can give good or even better results at low cost. Farmers report that when SRI methods are used correctly, rice plants are better able to resist damage from pests and diseases, reducing or eliminating need for agrochemical protection.

Because plant populations are greatly reduced with SRI, seed costs are cut by 80-90%, and because paddy fields are not kept continuously flooded, there are water savings of 25 to 50%, a major benefit in many places. However, cessation of flooding means that increased weeding is required. If this is done with soil-aerating implements like a rotating hoe, this cost has a benefit of enhanced crop production.
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