Background The System of Rice Intensification, known as SRI, is a combination of innovative agricultural practices that is drawing increasing worldwide attention. First developed in Madagascar, its benefits have now been demonstrated in nearly 30 countries, in all regions of the world.
Innovation SRI involves a series of innovative practices to increase productivity, from planting, water management, to soil aeration and nutrient application. These practices have enabled farmers to increase their paddy yields by 50-100% and even more, and all this with less water and farm input costs. In some places of the Philippines, yields have been doubled. “ When I first heard about SRI practices and its effects, I could not believe (it). I wonder if it is possible, since the SRI practices are far from our traditional practices. But when I saw the result of (a) demo-farm in nearby Barangay, where paddy yields have increased by 50%, I was convinced that it can work and can increase our income. Therefore, I decided to start the method in my field this year.” Felipe B. Gabriel, Farmer, Tarlac province In India and Indonesia, farmers increased their yields by as much as 80%, At the same time Irrigation water demand has reduced from 20 to 50% comparing to traditional methods. With yield increases and reductions in irrigation, income for farmers has increased, from 60% to over 170% as recorded in India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. These results are convincing more and more farmers to adopt SRI practices.
The six key elements of SRI The following are key elements of SRI, using practices from the Philippines, locally also referred to as SSIA for Sustainable System of Irrigated Agriculture. In this presentation we will focus specifically on the differences between SRI and traditional rice production. This is especially the case in the areas of land preparation, seedling preparation, transplanting, water application and management, weeding and fertilizer use.
1) Land preparation Let us start with the preparation of the land, which will sound familiar to you as the steps involved do not differ much from traditional practices. Here is what you will need to do: Soak the field for 5 days before plowing, and harrow two or three times with a 2-3 days pause to ensure proper water and soil mixture. Then spread appropriate amount of organic fertilizer, or a chemical equivalent, for the size of your land before the last harrowing. It is important to level the field so that water can reach all areas. For easier management of on-farm water, it is suggested that you create ditches on your field. This will help drain the field for intermittent irrigation and drying of the soil, as you will see later in this presentation.
Land preparation contd. Let’s move to the division of the field with grids. This element differs significantly from traditional practices. Rake the field using a specially-constructed rake to mark a grid on the muddy surface. The rakes can be hand-made from wood or bamboo, or tools that can be found in local markets. It is usually best to start with 25 by 25 centimeters spacing. If the soil is fertile, wider spacing of 30 by 30 or even 40 by 40 centimeters can give even higher yields. In Mindanao, practitioners from the National Irrigation Administration recommend 40 by 40 cm spacing based on their field experiments. The field should not have much standing water. Watch out if it holds the marking. If it doesn’t, this is a clear sign that the field is too wet for transplanting.
2) Seedling preparation Now that we have looked at the land preparation, let’s move on to preparation of seedlings. While the land is being prepared, you can already start a nursery. With SRI or SSIA as some call it in the Philippines, a much smaller number of plants are needed per hectare, as we will see in the following section. You will have to select good seeds because every seed matters! How can you tell if a seed is good or bad? In some places, farmers soak the seeds in salt water. First, add an egg to the bucket of water, and then add salt until the egg floats. The water is now ready to help in seed selection. Add rice seeds and get rid of those that float on top of the water. Use only the ones that sink to the bottom. On top of a plastic sheet, make a 2 to 3 centimeter thick seedbed, blended with soil and organic fertilizer. Use a 1 to 1 ratio between soil and fertilizer. What is the sheet used for? Well, it prevents seedling roots from running too deep into the soil at the time of transplanting. This method is called “Dapog” in the Philippines.
Seedling preparation contd. Next, sow 5 to 7 kilograms per hectare of treated and pre-germinated hybrid seeds not too densely onto the seedbed. Spread organic fertilizer on the seedbeds 2 days after sowing. You can spray organic pesticide if needed. Water the nursery daily, but do not keep it saturated. Where do you do all of these? Well, you can grow seedlings near your home, on portable plates, container covers, in bamboo trays, and even on banana leaves. Since many fewer seedlings are raised, and they are transplanted when small, it’s so much easier to carry the seedlings, compared to traditional practice. You will also find that nursery management is faster and less labor intensive.
3) Innovative transplanting Once the seedlings are ready, they will need to be transplanted – our third important element. Transplant your seedlings before the third leaf appears, or when the seedlings are about 8-10 days old. Unlike in traditional methods, where one month old seedlings are transplanted, the new method involves transplanting much younger seedlings. This will produce larger, more productive and healthier plants, with large, effective root systems as you will see from the latter part of this presentation. Before you transplant your seedlings, disassemble the seedbed and remove them. Wash off all the excess mud, but be careful not to damage the young roots! You can put them on a plate or tray to make it easier to carry them to the field.
Innovative transplanting contd. Remember the grid we have created earlier during land preparation? Plant one seedling per hill at each intersection of the grid that is marked on the soil. You will realize that much fewer seeds are needed. This differs from traditional methods, which places a handful of seedlings in each hill. Please pay attention to the following points. Plant the seedlings in shallow soil, just 1 -2 cm deep. Slip the roots into the mud sideways so that the roots stay horizontal in the soil. Be careful! Don’t push the seedlings in from above, because that may cause the root tips to point upward in the soil. And this will slow down their growth. Allow no more than 20 to 30 minutes between the uprooting of seedlings and their transplanting. You will reduce mortality and stress on the young seedlings, and they will grow faster. Because you planted your seedlings as single plants with wider spacing, it is perfectly normal if your field is not as green as with traditional methods. With wide spacing of up to 40 by 40 centimeters, plants get a lot of sunlight, space and air, which in turn produce stronger stalks and more tillers, as well as more profuse root growth.
4) Intermittent water application Now that the seedlings are planted, let’s move on to an important element in irrigated agriculture – water management. Irrigate the field in cycles of 3 days wet and 7 days dry. That is, irrigate the field for 3 days, and let it drain for 7 days. Begin this cycle 10 days after transplanting, but shift to continuous irrigation when the panicles start to appear, in which a thin layer of water, 1-2 cm, can be kept on the field. You can determine visually when to irrigate, depending upon the size of cracks that appear on the soil surface. Irrigation should be stopped 20 days before harvest, for the field to dry and the plant to transfer maximum nutrients into the grains. The new method does not follow traditional farming practices of usually growing paddy in flooded conditions. Intermittent irrigation has shown much more effective as it promotes root elongation, and aerates the soil.
Intermittent water application, contd. You will need to adjust the timing and the amounts of intermittent irrigation according to the availability of water, especially in the dry season. Please note that SRI, or in this case the SSIA in the Phillipines, requires good management of irrigation systems, and more reliable water supply than continuous flooding. Since the soil is not kept flooded from the outset, plant roots grow larger and deeper and remain healthier than those grown with traditional methods. You will notice that the plants hold up better to water stress and have more resistance to drought.
5) Rotary weeding Intermittent irrigation requires more weeding since the fields are not kept continuously flooded as in traditional methods. So weeds will grow. Start weeding around 10-12 days after transplanting, and repeat 2-3 times every 10-12 days. The extra effort invested in weed control is worth it, because soil aeration achieved with a rotary weeder can easily add 1-2 tons of yield per hectare. Manual weeding or herbicides can be used to reduce weeds, but we recommend using spike-teethed rotary tools because it is good for both weeding and tillage as weeds are mixed into the soil as green manure. Rotary weeders, which cost about 30-40 US dollars each, are available at local markets.
6) Organic fertilization Use fertilizers when necessary. In the Philippines, organic fertilizers have been emphasized as one of the key elements in SSIA. In Mindanao, farmers use locally made decomposed mixtures of rice straw, animal dung, banana pulp, and indigenous micro organisms. The SRI-Pilipinas network, a local NGO, trains farmers how to make organic fertilizers. The idea is not ‘to feed the plant’, but ‘to feed the soil’ and let the soil feed the plant. Only if needed, spray organic pesticides on the fertilizer at one liter per hectare, at one-week intervals, up to 6 to 8 times for one cropping season.
Summary We completed our six elements which gave you general guidance in applying the new method. Let us quickly review the important characteristics of SRI. First, seedlings get transplanted much younger than in traditional methods; Second, only single instead of traditional multiple plants get planted per hill; Third, plants are spaced wider and get arranged in a square pattern to increase plant exposure to sunlight and air; Fourth, intermittent water application instead of continuous flood irrigation; The last two key features of SRI relate to the active soil aeration to control the weed; and the increased use of organic fertilizers. Keep in mind that you may modify these practices based on your own soil conditions, availability of water, financial constraints, and your readiness to try the new practices. For example, as soil fertility improves over time, you should experiment with the spacing to decide what works best on your soil. Leveled land and control of field water are critical in the above practices. Depending on the types of weeds in your area, you may decide if pesticides are needed. The cost of labor and the availability of organic materials can also influence how much organic fertilizers you can make or manage to apply. Because the implementation of the above elements improves with experience, it is important that before converting your whole lot, you may try the new methods in a portion of your field to gain first hand experience in successful application. Although developed for irrigated rice cultivation, SRI concepts have also been adapted to rainfed rice and other crops as well.
Conclusion SSIA, an application of SRI in the Philippines, has demonstrated that it is not a myth to produce more from less. That is higher yields with less input of water, seeds, fertilizer and even labor as shown in some places. This has also been demonstrated in over 30 countries around the world. Predicted changes to our climate, increasing water demand from urban and other sectors, and the need to feed growing populations mean less water available for agriculture. SRI provides a new window of opportunity for agriculture water management, and for helping farmers to improve their livelihoods.
This multimedia presentation is produced by the World Bank Institute: Research, script and photo selection: Mei Xie, Kotaro Kikuchi, Alyson Kleine Script adaptation, design and multimedia production: Multimedia Unit Special thanks to the following organizations and individuals who have provided knowledge, materials and photos: Carlos Salazar, Bonifacio Labiano and Mario Sagum - National Irrigation Administration Philippines Felipe B. Gabriel, Efren Gabriel - farmers, San Isidro, Paniqui, Philippines Fernando O. Menob, Nemegu B. Niog Jr. - Irrigators Association, Andanan, Philippines Roberto Verzola, Mr. June, SRI-Pilipinas Shuichi Sato, Nippon Koei Consultant Team Leader for Decentralized Irrigation System Improvement, Indonesia Norman Uphoff, Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture & Development, USA Bahman Amiri Larijani, Haraz Technology Development and Extension Center, Iran
S ystem of R ice I ntensification (SRI) Based on an application in the Philippines A “How-to” guide for farmers
What is SRI? SRI A combination of innovative agricultural practices Madagascar Introduction System of Rice Intensification
Planting Water management Soil aeration Nutrient application “ These practices have enabled farmers to increase their paddy yields by 50-100% and even more” Yield 80% Water demand 20% - 50% India Indonesia Cambodia Philippines Iran Madagascar China Cuba Introduction System of Rice Intensification Yields have been doubled in Philippines More and more farmers to adopt SRI practices
Locally also referred as SSIA in Philippines SRI Traditional rice production The six key elements of SRI Key elements of SRI
Soak the field for five days before plowing Harrow two or three times with a two-three days pause Spread fertilizer Level the field Dry Dry Land preparation 1 The six key elements of SRI
Division of field with grids Field raking Rake 25 cm 25 cm 30 or 40 cm Recommend 40 by 40 cm spacing based on their field experiments Land preparation The six key elements of SRI 1
Smaller number of plants are needed per hectare Good seeds Salt water Soaking seeds in salt water Sinking seeds Seed selection 1 2 3 4 Seedbed 1 : 1 Soil Fertilizer Prevents seedling roots from running too deep into the soil This method is called “Dapog” in the Philippines Seedling preparation 2 The six key elements of SRI
Sowing Spread organic fertilizer Spray organic pesticide Water the nursery daily Near your home Bamboo trays Banana leaves Easier to carry the seedlings, compared to traditional practice Seedling preparation 2 Nursery management is faster and less labor intensive The six key elements of SRI
Transplanting Eight-ten days old seedlings One month old seedlings Traditional method
Effective root systems
Disassemble the seedbed Wash off the excess mud Put them on a plate or tray Innovative transplanting 3 The six key elements of SRI
Grid Plant one seedling at each intersection of the grid Traditional method Plant the seedlings in shallow soil Slip the roots into sideways Don’t push the seedlings in from above Allow 20 to 30 minutes between the uprooting of seedlings and their transplanting Single plants with wider spacing With wide spacing of up to 40 by 40 cm More tillers SRI - More profuse root growth Conventional method less root growth Innovative transplanting 3 The six key elements of SRI
Three days wet Seven days dry Ten days after transplanting Continuous irrigation when the panicles start to appear Size of cracks Traditional methods Intermittent irrigation SRI Non SRI Root elongation Three days wet Seven days dry Intermittent water application 4 The six key elements of SRI
Adjust the timing and the amounts of intermittent irrigation according to the availability of water, especially in the dry season Good management of irrigation system The soil is not kept flooded from the outset, plant roots grow larger and deeper and remain healthier than those grown with traditional methods More resistance to drought Intermittent water application 4 The six key elements of SRI
Start weeding around 10-12 days after transplanting Repeat 2-3 times every 10-12 days Rotary weeding Manual weeding The six key elements of SRI Rotary weeding 5
Organic fertilizers Rice straw Animal dung Banana pulp Indigenous micro organisms NGO training NGO training Spray pesticides, if necessary Organic fertilization 6 The six key elements of SRI
25 - 40 cm Seedlings Single planting Planting with wider spacing Intermittent water application Soil aeration Organic fertilizer Modify these based on:
Availability of water
Readiness to try the
Things to consider
Control of field water
Cost of labor
Availability of organic materials
Millet Sugar cane Summary : general guidance for applying SRI
Yield Water Seed Fertilizer Labor India Indonesia Cambodia Philippines Iran Madagascar China Cuba Climate change Growing population Good management of water irrigation Conclusion
Produced by the World Bank Institute (WBI) Research, script and photo selection by: Mei Xie Kotaro Kikuchi Alyson Kleine Script adaptation, multimedia design and production by: WBI Multimedia Unit
Special thanks to the following people, who provided knowledge, materials and photos
Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture & Development, USA
Decentralized Irrigation System Improvement, Indonesia
Nippon Koei Consultant Team Leader,
National Irrigation Administration, the Philippines
Farmers, San Isidro, Paniqui, Philippines Felipe B. Gabriel Efren Gabriel
Irrigators Association, Andanan, Philippines
Fernando O. Menob
Nemegu B. Niog Jr.
Haraz Technology Development and Extension Center, Iran