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0506 Some New Ideas and Opportunities Offered by the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Developed in Madagascar
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0506 Some New Ideas and Opportunities Offered by the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Developed in Madagascar


Presented by: Norman Uphoff …

Presented by: Norman Uphoff

Presented at: China Agriculture University, Beijing

Published in Technology , Travel
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  • Slides for seminar presentation on SRI at the College of Humanities and Development, China Agricultural University, Beijing, August 4, 2005.
  • This was the message which started presentation on SRI to the 10 th scientific meeting on the theory and practice of high-quality, high-yielding rice in China, held in Haerbin, August, 2004. This is a ‘bottom-line’ message summarizing what has been learned from SRI experience: the rice plant has much more potential for productivity than has been achieved because common practices constrain the expression of this potential.
  • This was the message which started presentation on SRI to the 10 th scientific meeting on the theory and practice of high-quality, high-yielding rice in China, held in Haerbin, August, 2004. This is a ‘bottom-line’ message summarizing what has been learned from SRI experience: the rice plant has much more potential for productivity than has been achieved because common practices constrain the expression of this potential.
  • Summary of main benefits from SRI seen in many countries now. Others are discussed, such as conservation of rice biodiversity, and resistance to abiotic stresses, in extra slides following those chosen for this presentation.
  • These two rice plants are ‘twins,’ 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 52 nd 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.
  • Picture provided by Dr. Koma Yang Saing, director, Cambodian Center for the Study and Development of Agriculture (CEDAC), September 2004.
  • Picture provided by Dr. P. V. Satyanarayana, the plant breeder who developed this very popular variety, which also responds very well to SRI practices.
  • This figure shows research findings from the China National Rice Research Institute, reported at the Sanya conference in April 2002 and published in the Proceedings. Two different rice varieties were used with SRI and conventional (CK) methods. The second responded more positively to the new methods in terms of leaf area and dry matter as measured at different elevations, but there was a very obvious difference in the phenotypes produced from the first variety's genome by changing cultivation methods from conventional to SRI. Both leaf area and dry matter were significantly increased by using SRI methods.
  • Figure from Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences research on SRI, comparing leaf area of SRI rice with conventional rice, same variety and otherwise same growing conditions.
  • This figure from a report by Nanjing Agricultural University researchers to the Sanya conference, and reproduced from those proceedings, shows that the oxygenation ability of rice roots growing under SRI conditions are about double the ability, throughout the growth cycle, compared to the same variety grown under conventional conditions. At maturity, the SRI roots have still almost 3x the oxygenation ability of conventionally grown rice plants.
  • Summary of main benefits from SRI seen in many countries now. Others are discussed, such as conservation of rice biodiversity, and resistance to abiotic stresses, in extra slides following those chosen for this presentation.
  • Summary of main benefits from SRI seen in many countries now. Others are discussed, such as conservation of rice biodiversity, and resistance to abiotic stresses, in extra slides following those chosen for this presentation.
  • This picture from Sri Lanka shows two fields having the same soil, climate and irrigation access, during a drought period. On the left, the rice grown with conventional practices, with continuous flooding from the time of transplanting, has a shallower root system that cannot withstand water stress. On the right, SRI rice receiving less water during its growth has deeper rooting, and thus it can continue to thrive during the drought. Farmers in Sri Lanka are coming to accept SRI in part because it reduces their risk of crop failure during drought.
  • 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.
  • SRI is often hard to accept because it does not depend on either of the two main strategies of the Green Revolution, not requiring any change in the rice variety used (genotype) or an increase in external inputs. The latter can be reduced.
  • This is a picture sent by Thadeusz Niesiobedzki in Poland, of his winter wheat crop that is being grown with single seedlings, wide spacing, use of organic matter, etc. approximating SRI. He hit upon these practices by accident (a long story) and also discovered the SRI internet web page, and saw the similarities between his practices and SRI, thereafter contacting Cornell by email to open up dialogue.
  • These pictures of finger millet roots, all at 60 days of age, with different dates (ages) of transplanting, confirm the observations with SRI that using younger seedlings for transplanting will result in more vigorous root (and shoot) growth. Pictures from staff of the Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University in Hyderabad, India, the state agricultural university for Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Green Foundation, an NGO in Bangalore, India, working with poor and marginal populations, particularly tribal women, has come across and documented the Guli Vidhana method of cultivating ragi (finger millet). This was developed by some farmers, but Green Foundation, which is promoting SRI in Karnataka State, saw the similarities in concept – and in results – with SRI, and points this out in its educational poster for Guli Vidhana method, which is tripling yield for poor households that desperately need more food.
  • This method has been developed by Prabhakar Reddy, one of the first SRI farmers in Andhra Pradesh state, and is being monitored and documented by Dr. Shashi Bhushan, ANGRAU faculty member. Reddy was explicitly adapting his SRI experience to sugar cane production, with similarly large increases in production from reduced planting material.
  • The upland rice results are from trials by BIND (Broader Initiatives for Negros Development, in Negros Occidental); the Madagascar results were reported in CIIFAD Annual Report 1999-2001. The cotton and vegetable results are reported by Gopal Swaminathan, a farmer in Kadiramangalam in the Cauvery Delta of Tamil Nadu. He is one of many experimenting farmers who are taking SRI ideas into new areas.
  • This is a capsule summary of the history of SRI. In May, 2005, the Government of India issued a press release (May 29) advising Indian farmers to use SRI methods ‘wherever feasible.’
  • This picture was provided by Association Tefy Saina, showing Fr. de Laulanie the year before his death in 1995, at age 75.
  • These are the president and secretary of Association Tefy Saina, the NGO set up by Fr. de Laulanie, Sebastien, Justin and some other Malagasies in 1990 to promote SRI and rural development in Madagascar more generally.
  • These data were reported in Prof. Robert Randriamiharisoa's paper in the Sanya conference proceedings. They give the first direct evidence to support our thinking about the contribution of soil microbes to the super-yields achieved with SRI methods. The bacterium Azospirillum was studied as an "indicator species" presumably reflecting overall levels of microbial populations and activity in and around the plant roots. Somewhat surprisingly, there was no significant difference in Azospirillum populations in the rhizosphere. But there were huge differences in the counts of Azospirillum in the roots themselves according to soil types (clay vs. loam) and cultivation practices (traditional vs. SRI) and nutrient amendments (none vs. NPK vs. compost). NPK amendments with SRI produce very good results, a yield on clay soil five times higher than traditional methods with no amendments. But compost used with SRI gives a six times higher yield. The NPK increases Azospirillum (and other) populations, but most/much of the N that produced a 9 t/ha yield is coming from inorganic sources compared to the higher 10.5 t/ha yield with compost that depends entirely on organic N. On poorer soil, SRI methods do not have much effect, but when enriched with compost, even this poor soil can give a huge increase in production, attributable to the largest of the increases in microbial activity in the roots. At least, this is how we interpret these findings. Similar research should be repeated many times, with different soils, varieties and climates. We consider these findings significant because they mirror results we have seen in other carefully measured SRI results in Madagascar. Tragically, Prof. Randriamiharisoa, who initiated this work, passed away in August, 2004, so we will no longer have his acute intelligence and probing mind to advance these frontiers of knowledge.
  • This is the most succinct statement of what SRI is all about.
  • This figure shows the yields associated with different numbers of mechanical hand weedings (with rotating hoe) for 76 farmers around Ambatovaky in 1996-97 (same as Slide 22). Two farmers did only manual weeding. They got about 6 t/ha yield, more than double the typical yield in the area. The 35 farmers who did 1-2 weedings, the minimum recommended, got 7.5 t/ha, triple the typical yield. The 24 who did 3 weedings got 9.2 t/ha, four times more, while the 15 who did 4 weedings, got 11.7 t/ha, about 5 times. Beyond 2 weedings, we think that the benefit is not really from the weeding but from the active soil aeration during the latter part of the vegetative growth phase. This is an area where controlled studies should be done. So far, all we have is data from farmers' fields. In other soils and other conditions, the absolute numbers will surely be different, but we think the pattern will hold up. On the very poor soils around Morondava, Frederic Bonlieu, doing research with 72 farmers practicing SRI for his thesis from Angers University in France, found that additional weedings added about 0.5 t/ha to yield, other things being equal. The same pattern we seen, but it was more linear and with less increment per weeding.
  • The most interesting directions for SRI development are DIRECT SEEDING, possibly linked with NO-TILL cultivation methods and RAISED BEDS.
  • Picture provided by Dr. Zhu Defeng, China National Rice Research Institute, September 2004.
  • This field was harvested in March 2004 with representatives from the Department of Agriculture present to measure the yield. Picture provided by George Rakotondrabe, Landscape Development Interventions project, which has worked with Association Tefy Saina in spreading the use of SRI to reduce land pressures on the remaining rainforest areas.
  • Dr. Kasim sent this picture in 2004 from his SRI demonstration trials at his university in Indonesia.
  • SRI farmer in Chibal village, Srey Santhor district, Kampong Cham province, Cambodia
  • Picture provided by Dr. Rena Perez of SRI field in 2002 at the cooperative where SRI got its start in Cuba. This field gave yields of about 6 t/ha before. This cooperative has expanded from 2 ha to 20 ha in SRI.
  • Picture of SRI trials, in background, at Sapu agricultural research station, provided by Dr. Mustapha Ceesay. The rice in the foreground is the way lowland rice is conventionally grown in The Gambia.
  • Picture of SRI harvest at Sapu Research Station.
  • Picture provided by Dr. Peng Jiming, associate director of the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center, Changsha, from trials that CNHRDDC is doing in the West African country of Guinea growing its hybrid rice varieties with SRI methods.
  • Three main reasons why SRI has remained controversial for some persons.
  • These last slides get into an area of SRI explanation that is more tentative, but probably more important for highest SRI yields. There is a lot of country-to-country variation in SRI results, and also within countries, much larger variations than can be explained by differences in practices or by differences in soil chemical and physical properties. We cite an observation by S. K. DeDatta in his well-known text on rice. We add our own emphasis to underscore our conclusion that there needs to be much more consideration of soil microbes and their contributions to rice yield. There is, however, little research on this subject, so DeDatta devoted very few pages to this compared to genetic, soil and other factors.
  • In on-farm research, Barison analyzed the rice plants on 108 farms where farmers were using both SRI and conventional growing methods, so that there would be minimal influence of inter-farm or inter-farmer differences. Same varieties and same soils. The QUEFTS modeling exercise is quite standard in plant evaluation. The SRI plants had a very different capacity to take up N (and P and K) and to convert them into grain.
  • SRI defies usual logic – that to get more, you have to invest more. But “less” can produce “more,” for a number of different, but reinforcing reasons, well grounded in the scientific literature. USDA research by Kumar and associates (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, US, 2004) shows how changed growing conditions in the root zone affects the expression of genes in leaf tissue cells, affecting senescence and disease resistance. This research gives clues for explaining how SRI practices produce different phenotypes.
  • This gets into the most complicated part of the explanation for SRI success, drawing on knowledge that is available in the literature but seldom known by scientists who do not read Japanese or who did not have teachers educated in Japan. T. Katayama studied tillering in rice, wheat and barley during the 1920s and 1930s, but never published his results until after the war (1951), and his book has not been translated into English. Fortunately, Fr. de Laulanie happened to read a book in French which reports on Katayama's concept of "phyllochrons," regular intervals of plant growth (emergence of phytomers -- units of a tiller, a leaf and a root -- from the apical meristem of grass family (gramineae) species. In rice, phyllochrons can be as short as 5 days with good growing conditions, but as long as 8-10 days with adverse conditions. The number of phyllochrons emerging in consecutive periods increases according to a regular pattern known in biological science and mathematics as "a Fibonacci series," where the number emerging in each period is equal to the total the numbers that emerged in the preceding two periods. [Look at numbers in bottom line of the slide, and then at the numbers for rice tillering in the next two slides]
  • In the first phyllochron (about 5 days, but it can be longer), the main tiller (and main root) emerge. Then no more tillers or roots emerge during the next two phyllochrons. This is the best time for transplanting because it minimizes root trauma. In the 4th phyllochron, a first primary tiller emerges from the base of the main tiller, and a second primary tiller emerges during the 5th phyllochron. In the 6th phyllochon, two tillers emerge, one from the main tiller (the third primary tiller) and one from the first primary tiller, because from the 4th phyllochron on, each tiller begins producing tillers, one per phyllochron, after a lag of two phyllochrons (periods). This can be seen from the next slide. The numbers start adding up quickly, as seen from the bottom row -- PROVIDED THAT THE PLANT HAS AN INTACT ROOT SYSTEM AND IS ABLE TO SUPPORT SUCH PROFUSE GROWTH. If the root system is not fully functioning, the phyllochrons lengthen and fewer are completed before panicle initiation (PI) when the rice plant switches from vegetative growth to reproduction and grain filling. This table shows tillering if the plant can complete 12 phyllochrons (periods) of growth before PI. Some SRI plants have have over 100 tillers, meaning that they got into the 13th phyllochron before PI. Under unfavorable growing conditions, phyllochrons become longer and few are completed before PI. A plant going through only8 phyllochrons of growth would have only 13 tillers, not 84. Note the geometric progression of groups of three phyllochrons, exhibiting a mathematical power relationship. The reason there are not 64 in the last period (phyllochrons 10-12) is that there is no room in the first row of tillers for a seventh tiller. Remember also that the growth of roots mirrors that of tillers, so the root structure multiplies similarly, provided that growing conditions are favorable. This table was worked out by Fr. de Laulanie, following the lines of observation and analysis laid out by Katayama.
  • This shows graphically what happens according to the numbers shown in the preceding table (Slide 35). Note that with SRI practices, which create a large and actively functioning root system for the plant, there is no fall-off in tillering before PI. With conventional rice growing practices, a period known as "maximum tillering" PRECEDES panicle initiation, as the earlier growth in tillering rate 'peaks' and subsides. We need more systematic monitoring of tillering rates in SRI and conventionally grown rice to put some parameters on this difference. But we know that this kind of "explosion" in tillering does occur with proper use of SRI practices, which support a large root system, and we know that "maximum tillering" occurs before PI with conventional plants.
  • This slide summarizes the plant physiological (but not the soil microbiological) elements of our 'theory' of SRI. It is informed by the article by Nemoto et al. in CROP SCIENCE (1995), the most explicit article we have found in English on phyllochrons in rice. The left-hand column are conditions that accelerate rice plant growth, i.e., shorten the phyllochron so that more of these periods are completed before PI. The right-hand column lists opposite conditions that slow plant growth. We refer to this, metaphorically, as 'slowing down vs. speeding up the biological clock,' a way of speaking about the rate of cell division and growth. The last two conditions, moisture and oxygen, are inversely correlated in that too much moisture means too little oxygen. Water management with SRI seeks to optimize moisture and oxygen in the root zone, ensuring enough of either, steering between drought and hypoxia. When plants are to close together, their roots (and canopies?) sense that there will not be enough nutrients, moisture, etc. to support maximum plant growth through the entire plant cycle to where the plant can produce mature seeds to ensure a next generation. Plant growth slows in response to the right-hand conditions in order to make more likely that at least some seeds will be produced before the plant senesces. When all of these conditions are favorable, growth speeds up. Raising yield requires providing ideal or optimal conditions. There is not much research done on phyllochrons in rice with regard to their manipulation or use for increasing production. Fr. de Laulanie thought that once we fully understand and utilize phyllochron dynamics, rice yields can be moved into the 20-30 t/ha range, given the inherent genetic potential of rice plants when ideal growing conditions are provided.
  • The Paraboowa Farmers Association has a dozen ‘wild rice’ varieties that it can grow for marketing or for export. The rice is grown ‘organically’ so can get a premium price in overseas markets. 17 tons have been exported to Italy already. The farmers want to preserve these varieties for future generations, and SRI enables them to do this.l
  • This was developed in 2003 by Mr. L. Reddy, to replace the use of strings and sticks to mark lines for planting, or the use of a wooden “rake” that could mark lines when pulled across the paddy in two directions. This implement, which can be built for any spacing desired, enables farmers, after it is pulled across the paddy in one direction, to plant SRI seedlings in a 25x250 cm square pattern. It saves as lot of labor time for transplanting because only one pass is needed across the field, and this is wider than a rake could be. Even wider ones have been built. Mr. Reddy is a very innovative and successful SRI farmer, with a superb yield last rabi season, measured and reported by the Department of Extension in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Mr. Gopal Swaminthan, an educated farmer in the Cauvery Delta of Tamil Nadu, India, built this weeder which can cultivate four rows at a time, removing weeds and aerating the soil, cutting labor time for this operation by half or more. He has also devised an innovative system for crop establishment, suited to hot climates, called the Kadiramangalam system, described on our SRI home page (
  • Mr. Subasinghe Ariyaratna has 2 ha and thus found it difficult to manage the weeding of his SRI field himself. So he designed and built this weeder which he says enables him to weed his field in one day’s work. The cost of construction, with a Chinese motor attached, was $800. This could be lowered if the weeder were mass produced.
  • Built by Luis Romero, one of the most successful SRI farmers in Cuba, to plant germinated seeds at 40x40 cm spacing. The seeds are put in the respective bins and dropped at the bins rotate. For his field, Luis found that 40x40 cm was too wide, because of weed problems. He has built one for 30x30 cm now. His neighbor built a seeder with 12 bins, four times as wide, that can be pulled by oxen to further save labor. The important thing to know is that farmers are working on their own ways to reduce SRI labor requirements because they see the benefits of wide spacing, aerated soil, etc.
  • This is Liu Zhibin with a plot that was harvested just before my visit, with an official certificate for a yield of 13.4 t/ha. I was most interested in his experimentation with no-till methods and SRI.
  • In Heilongjiong province of China, seedlings need to be started in heated greenhouses when there is still snow on the ground. Dr. Jin Xueyong at Northeast Agricultural University in Haerbin has developed the 3-S system for growing rice in cold climates that is about 80% the same as SRI. It must use older seedlings (45-days) because of the lower temperatures, but it uses single seedlings, wide spacing, reduced water, more organic matter, etc.
  • Two fields of rice grown with normal methods on the left and the 3-S system on the right. The phenotypical differences are evident, much as seen with SRI. Prof. Jin is in center with blue shirt and white cap.
  • This is a SRI rice nursery in Sri Lanka, showing one way (but only one of many ways) to grow young seedlings. The soil in this raised bed was a mixture of one-third soil, one-third compost, and one-third chicken manure. (The flooding around it is because the surrounding field is being readied for transplanting; normally there would not be so much water standing around the nursery.)
  • Here the seedlings are being removed. We would recommend that they be lifted with a trowel, to have minimum disturbance of the roots, but these seedlings are so vigorous that this manual method is successful. This farmer has found that his seedlings, when transplanted with two leaves at time of transplanting, already put out a third leave the next day after transplanting, indicating that there was no transplant 'shock.'
  • Here the field is being 'marked' for transplanting with a simple wooden 'rake.' If the soil is too wet, these lines will not remain long enough for transplanting. There are drains within the field to carry excess water away from the root zone.
  • Here are seedlings being removed from a clump for transplanting. Note that the yellow color comes from the sunlight reflecting off the plant. The plant's color is a rich green, indicating no N deficiency.
  • Here the seedlings are being set into the soil, very shallow (only 1-2 cm deep). The transplanted seedlings are barely visible at the intersections of the lines. This operation proceeds very quickly once the transplanters have gained some skill and confidence in the method. As noted already, these seedling set out with two leaves can already have a third leaf by the next day.
  • Picture provided by Gamini Batuwitage, at the time Sr. Asst. Secretary of Agriculture, Sri Lanka, of SRI field that yielded 13 t/ha in 2000, the first year SRI was used in that country. Such performance got SRI started there..
  • Tefy Saina is more comfortable communicating in French language, though it can handle English. CIIFAD has worldwide contacts on SRI through the internet.


  • 1. Some New Ideas and Opportunities Offered by the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Developed in Madagascar COHD, China Agriculture University Beijing, August 4, 2005 Norman Uphoff, CIIFAD Cornell University, USA
  • 2. SRI Is the Most Remarkable Innovation I Have Seen in 40 Years
    • SRI has been dismissed as “too good to be true” but with logical arguments only
    • SRI has been passing the empirical tests
    • There has been considerable resistance within scientific community, but this is now changing
    • I can understand any skepticism because it took me 3 years to accept SRI as valid
    • I am not trying to ‘sell’ SRI: will share my ideas and experience, only to ‘open door’
  • 3. Basic Message : For Centuries, Even Millennia, We Have Been ABUSING, even MISTREATING the Rice Plant
    • We have FLOODED it – drowning its roots
    • We have CROWDED it – inhibiting the growth potential of its canopy and roots
    • Now we use fertilizers and agrochemicals that adversely affect the soil biota which provide many services : P solubilization, biological N fixation, protection against diseases and abiotic stresses, etc.
  • 4. SRI Achieves Results by Changing Standard Cultural Practices
    • SRI alters the E in the GxE equation -- by improving the growing environment for rice with innovative management practices for:
      • Plants: young single seedlings, widely spaced
      • Soil and water: no continuous flooding, with active soil aeration through ‘ rotating hoe’
      • Nutrients: while fertilizer is okay, compost from any decomposed biomass works better
    • These practices give us more productive PHENOTYPES from any rice GENOTYPE
  • 5. Cuba – Both plants are the same age (52 DAP) and same variety (VN 2084)
  • 6. Ms. Im Sarim, Cambodia, with rice plant grown from a single seed, using SRI methods and traditional variety -- yield of 6.72 t/ha
  • 7. Roots of a single rice plant (MTU 1071) grown at Agricultural Research Station Maruteru, AP, India, kharif 2003
  • 8. India: Single SRI plant – Swarna cv. – normally ‘shy-tillering’
  • 9. Plant Physical Structure and Light Intensity Distribution at Heading Stage (Tao et al., CNRRI, 2002)
  • 10. Change of Leaf Area Index (LAI) during growth cycle (Zheng et al., SAAS, 2003)
  • 11. Roots’ Oxygenation Ability with SRI vs. Conventionally-Grown Rice Research done at Nanjing Agricultural University, Wuxianggeng 9 variety (Wang et al. 2002)
  • 12. SRI Results are Remarkable -- but They Have Been Replicated Widely
    • Yield increases – 50-100% or more
    • No need to change varieties – all respond
    • No need for mineral fertilizers – these are beneficial, but compost gives better yield
    • Little or no need for agrochemicals -- SRI plants more resistant to pests/diseases
    • Reduction in seed requirement by 80+%
    • Reduction in water requirement by 25-50%
    • More labor is required initially -- but over time, SRI can even become labor-saving
  • 13. Additional Benefits
    • SRI is more accessible to the poor because it has lower capital requirements
    • SRI increases farmers’ profits because the costs of production are lower -- by about 20%
    • SRI reduces farmers’ risks because SRI plants are more resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses
    • Shorter maturation cycle -- by up to 15 days
    • Higher milling outturn from paddy ~ +15%
    • Environmental benefits from reduced water, fertilizer, and agrochemicals – get better water and soil quality, and fewer health hazards
    • May also have some nutritional benefits?
  • 14. Rice fields in Sri Lanka: same variety, same irrigation system, and same drought : conventional methods (left), SRI (right)
  • 15. Rice in Tamil Nadu, India: normal crop is seen in foreground; SRI crop, behind it, resists lodging
  • 16. Rice in Vietnam: normal methods on right; SRI with close spacing in middle; SRI with recommended spacing on left
  • 17. MEASURED DIFFERENCES IN GRAIN QUALITY Characteristic SRI (3 spacings) Conventional Diff. 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 + 17.5 38.87 - 39.99 41.81 - 50.84 Head milled rice (%) + 16.1 41.54 - 51.46 53.58 - 54.41 Milled rice outturn (%) - 65.7 6.74 - 7.17 1.02 - 4.04 General chalkiness (%) - 30.7 39.89 - 41.07 23.62 - 32.47 Chalky kernels (%)
  • 18. Too Good to Be True?
    • This reasoning has been a problem for getting SRI accepted, even tried
    • But it should be a matter of empirical evaluation ; then finding explanations
    • SRI creates a new logic for rice production – indeed, a new paradigm – different from the Green Revolution
    • SRI concepts and practices are being extrapolated now to other crops
  • 19. Different P aradigms of Production
    • The GREEN REVOLUTION paradigm:
    • (a) Changed the genetic potential of plants, and
    • (b) Increased the use of external inputs -- more water, fertilizer, insecticides, etc.
    • SRI changes certain management practices for plants, soil, water and nutrients, so as to:
    • (A) Promote the growth of root systems , and
    • (B) Increase the abundance and diversity of
    • soil organisms , and also
    • (C) Reduce water use and costs of production
  • 20.  
  • 21. SRI RAGI (FINGER MILLET), Rabi 2004-05 60 days after sowing – Varieties 762 and 708 VR 762 VR 708 10 15 21* *Age at which seedlings were transplanted from nursery Results of trials being being done by ANGRAU
  • 22. Guli Vidhana Method (Millet)
    • Yields in Karnataka State, India: 500-600 kg/ha, maximum 1,500 kg/ha
    • Guli Vidhana Method: average yield 1,800-2,000 kg/ha, up to 2,500 kg/ha
    • Planting in square pattern (18 x 18 in.)
    • Two seedlings per hill
    • ‘ Abuse’ young millet plants at 25 days – induce profuse tillering and root growth, with tripled yield (farmer innovation)
  • 23. Sugar Cane Adaptation
    • Andhra Pradesh State, India: Farmer adaptation based on SRI experience
    • Instead of planting 8-12” sets in rows 3’ apart, ‘incubate’ 3” sets (with one bud) in plastic bags and compost, in warm, humid environment for 45 days; plant 1’ apart in rows 5-6’ apart; reduce material by 85%
    • Save cost of 3 irrigations and 1 herbicide
    • Yield of 100 tons/acre instead of 30 tons
  • 24. Other Adaptations
    • UPLAND RICE – in Philippines, got average of 7.2 t/ha unirrigated rice; in Madagascar have reached 4 t/ha
    • COTTON starting, VEGETABLES too?
    • Do whatever is necessary to promote ROOT GROWTH and also increase the abundance/diversity of SOIL BIOTA – often these are the same practices
    • Induce different PHENOTYPICAL DEVELOPMENT – new strategy?
  • 25. What Are Origins of SRI?
    • It w as developed in Madagascar 20 years ago by Pere Henri de Laulani é, S.J. , who spent 34 years working with farmers, observing, experimenting, and having also some ‘good luck’
    • He was educated at Institut Nationale de Agriculture in Paris (Paris-Grignon), 1937-39, before attending Jesuit seminary, 1941-45; to Madagascar in 1961
      • SRI practices were synthesized in 1983-84
      • Association Tefy Saina was established in 1990
      • CIIFAD started working with ATS in 1994
    • SRI was first validated outside Madagascar in China and Indonesia, in 1999-2000
    • Now it has been validated in 22 countries and it is spreading – GOI recommendation 5/29/05
  • 26. Fr. de Laulani é making field visit
  • 27. Sebastien Rafaralahy and Justin Rabenandrasana, Association Tefy Saina
  • 28. Phenotypical Differences Are Now Well-Documented
    • Most of the scientific work on SRI has been done by Chinese scientists
    • But still not enough work done on the associated soil microbiological factors
    • SRI is not a technology -- not a fixed set of techniques – but rather a set of insights and associated practices that (a) enlarge roots , and (b) promote soil biota (micro and macro)
  • 29.  
  • 30. Basic SRI Practices -- starting points
    • Transplant young seedlings (8-12 d old, and <15 d), quickly (15-30 min) and carefully
    • Plant with wider spacing than at present:
      • 1 seedling per hill , or at most 2 seedlings
      • In square pattern , starting at 25x25 cm, but often get better results at even wider spacing as soil improves biologically, up to 50x50 cm
    • Practice water control , keeping soil moist but not continuously saturated
    • Control weeds (and aerate soil) with rotary weeder; weed/aerate as often as possible
    • Apply as much organic matter as available
  • 31. Benefits are observed from soil aeration during the vegetative growth period
  • 32. Just Good Agronomic Practice?
    • There is nothing ‘magic’ about SRI
    • Many of these practices have been used previously, often traditionally – according to Prof. Yuan Longping in China
    • These were often ‘BMP’ for prize-winning Japanese farmers in 1950s and 1960s -- according to Prof. T. Horie at U of Kyoto
    • Why haven’t they become widespread ?
      • This is a very good question
      • Maybe some synergistic factors?
  • 33. SRI Guidelines are Evolving
    • Age of seedling is important because of phyllochron effect -- but best age can vary
    • Direct seeding is being tried out to save labor; can sow germinated seed and ‘weed’
    • Permanent raised beds are promising
    • Optimum spacing changes over time -- in poorer soils, two plants/hill are better
    • Starting to recommend continuation of alternate wetting and drying throughout the crop cycle -- not shallow flooding after PI
    • Definite advantages of applying compost
  • 34. SRI rice field, hybrid variety, Yunnan province, 2004 – 18 t/ha
  • 35. Madagascar SRI field, 2003
  • 36. Tillering with SRI practices: single rice plant grown by Dr. Musliar Kasim (Andalas Univ. West Sumatra, Indonesia)
  • 37. SRI farmer in Chibal village, Srey Santhor district, Kampong Cham province, Cambodia
  • 38. SRI field in Cuba – 12 t/ha – Los Palacios 9 cv. -- 2003
  • 39. The Gambia: Sapu Research Station
  • 40. The Gambia: Sapu Research Station (Mustapha Ceesay)
  • 41. Guinea: Chinese hybrid (GY032) with SRI methods – 9.2 t/ha
  • 42. SRI is still controversial for several reasons
    • SRI is counterintuitive – LESS gives MORE -- but this can be explained in scientific terms
    • SRI results are quite variable , between and within countries – because more is involved than genetic potential and external inputs
      • Soil biological resources are the key to SRI performance – not industrial operation
    • SRI results often higher on farmers’ fields than on research stations – scientists often cannot replicate farmers’ results, which is the reverse of the usual situation
  • 43. SRI Shows LINKS between Processes Above-Ground and Below-Ground
    • Importance of soil aeration and provision of organic matter to promote abundance and diversity of organisms in/on/around roots
    • Effects of N fixation, phosphorus solubilization, mycorrhizal fungi, protozoan cycling of N, induced systemic resistance, phytohormones
  • 44. Soil microbial activity is critical for plant nutrition and SRI performance
    • “ The microbial flora causes a large number of biochemical changes in the soil that largely determine the fertility of the soil.” (DeDatta, 1981, p. 60, emphasis added)
  • 45. Figure 8: Linear regression relationship between N uptake and grain yield for SRI and conventional methods, using QUEFTS modeling (from Barison, 2002) Results are from on-farm comparisons (N = 108)
    • by utilizing biological potentials & processes
    • Smaller, younger seedlings become larger, more productive mature plants
    • Fewer plants per hill and per m 2 will give higher yield if used with other SRI practices
    • Half as much water produces more rice because aerobic soil conditions are better
    • Greater output is possible with use of
    • fewer or even no external/chemical inputs
    • There is nothing magical about SRI – not ‘voodoo science’ (Cassman & Sinclair, 2004)
  • 47. How to account for vigorous growth of young transplants ?
    • This can be explained in terms of ‘phyllochrons’ -- interval of plant growth found in all “grass” species
    • Discovered by Japanese scientist Katayama in 1920s-30s
    • Tillering pattern follows sequence of ‘ Fibonacci series ’ -- 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13...
  • 48.  
  • 49.  
  • 50. What speeds up the biological clock? (adapted from Nemoto et al. 1995)
    • Shorter phyllochrons Longer phyllochrons
    • Higher temperature > cold temperature
    • Wider spacing > crowding of roots/canopy
    • More illumination > shading of plants
    • Ample nutrients in soil > nutrient deficits
    • Soil penetrability > compaction of soil
    • Sufficient moisture > drought conditions
    • Sufficient oxygen > hypoxic soil
  • 51.  
  • 52. Roller-marker devised by Lakshmana Reddy, East Godavari, AP, India, to save time in transplanting operations; his yield in 2003-04 rabi season was 17.25 t/ha paddy (dry weight)
  • 53. 4-row weeder designed by Gopal Swaminathan, Thanjavur, TN, India Aerate soil at same time that weeds are removed/incorporated
  • 54. Motorized weeder developed by S. Ariyaratna Sri Lanka
  • 55. Seeder Developed in Cuba Direct seeding will probably replace transplanting in future Essential principle is to avoid trauma to the young roots
  • 56. Liu Zhibin, Meishan Inst. of Science & Technology, in raised-bed,no-till SRI field with certified yield of 13.4 t/ha
  • 57. Seedlings are started at the end of winter in plastic greenhouses
  • 58. Normal 3-S
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  • 65. THANK YOU
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