0401 Why and How this Century's Agriculture Should be Different from 20th Century Agriculture


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Presented by: Norman Uphoff

Presented at: National Seminar on Resource Management and Sustainable Development College of Agriculture Bapatla, AP

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  • This picture was contributed from Cambodia by Koma Yang Saing (CEDAC). Viewers should try to imagine the very small single young seedling from which this massive plant grew.
  • Picture provided by Gamini Batuwitage, Sri Lanka, of field that yielded 17 t/ha in 2000.
  • 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.
  • These data from a study done by Fide Raobelison under the supervision of Prof. Robert Randriamiharisoa at Beforona station in Madagascar, and reported in Prof. Robert's paper in the Sanya conference proceedings, 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 such as the Anjomakely factorial trials (Slide 24) and the previous season's trials with SRI at Beforona (10.2 t/ha).
  • 0401 Why and How this Century's Agriculture Should be Different from 20th Century Agriculture

    1. 1. Why and How This Century’s Agriculture Should Be Different from 20th Century Agriculture National Seminar on Resource Management and Sustainable Development College of Agriculture Bapatla, AP, January 28, 2004 Norman Uphoff Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD)
    2. 2. 20th Century ‘Modern’ Agriculture Has Been the Most Successful in History <ul><li>Per capita food production, 1960-2000, increased by 30% </li></ul><ul><li>Real food prices in constant terms during this period decreased by 48% </li></ul><ul><li>Agriculture was an ‘engine of growth’ over four decades worldwide </li></ul><ul><li>Capital and labor resources generated in agricultural sector supported industry </li></ul>
    3. 3. Per Capita Food Production, 1961-2000, and Agricultural Commodity Prices, 1960-2000
    4. 4. However, ‘modern agriculture’ is not necessarily the ultimate development <ul><li>Productivity gains achieved with heavy use of external inputs have slowed down </li></ul><ul><li>Negative externalities are becoming more evident -- environmental, social costs </li></ul><ul><li>How likely are we to make further progress in 21st century doing ‘ more of the same ’? </li></ul><ul><li>Technologies, policies, and institutions are needed that will be better suited to our present and future situations </li></ul>
    5. 5. We Need to Raise the Productivity of LAND <ul><li>Grain area p/c in India </li></ul><ul><li>1950 0.28 ha </li></ul><ul><li>2000 0.10 ha </li></ul><ul><li>2050 0.06 ha </li></ul>
    6. 6. We Need to Raise the Productivity of WATER <ul><li>WATER is becoming scarcer , at least for agricultural uses and certainly scarcer in per capita and in per area terms </li></ul><ul><li>Estimated annual water deficit: </li></ul><ul><li>-- India 104.0 billion m 3 </li></ul><ul><li>-- China 30.0 billion m 3 </li></ul><ul><li>-- U.S. 13.6 billion m 3 (S. Postel, 2001) </li></ul>
    7. 7. Previous Productivity Gains Were Made with Increased Use of CHEMICAL INPUTS <ul><li>F ertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc. are now </li></ul><ul><li>-- giving diminishing returns while -- creating environmental hazards and health risks with </li></ul><ul><li>-- rising costs of production and </li></ul><ul><li>-- continuing problems of efficacy </li></ul>
    8. 8. Recent Changes in Input Use <ul><li>World Fertilizer Use, 1950-2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Global Pesticide Sales, 1950-1999 (on other side) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Changes in Fertilizer Productivity World Grain Production Fertilizer Response Use Ratio 1950 631 14 - 1984 1649 126 9.1:1 1989 1685 146 1.8:1 1993 1719 130 Not calculable
    10. 10. Problems with Agrochemicals <ul><li>Rising Costs -- due to supply/demand dynamics for petroleum </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental and Health Hazards -- become more evident all the time </li></ul><ul><li>Declining Efficacy -- ‘chemical treadmill’ caused by increasing resistance </li></ul>
    11. 11. 21st Century Agriculture Needs to Be <ul><li>More PRODUCTIVE in terms of : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>LAND -- per unit area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LABOR -- per hour/per day </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WATER -- per cubic meter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CAPITAL -- more profitable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More ENVIRONMENTALLY BENIGN </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More robust in face of CLIMATE CHANGE </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More SOCIALLY BENEFICIAL </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ACCESSIBLE to the poor, reducing poverty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing greater FOOD SECURITY </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contributing more to HUMAN HEALTH </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. These Expectations Call for a <ul><li>‘ Post-Modern’ Agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>which is more productive and profitable, while being more benign environmentally and more socially beneficial, i.e., </li></ul><ul><li>a Greener Revolution </li></ul>
    13. 13. Post-Modern Agriculture <ul><li>Is not like ‘post-modernism’ in literature & humanities, which reject ‘modernity’ </li></ul><ul><li>P-M agriculture will build on the same scientific foundations as modern agric. </li></ul><ul><li>It will be more fundamentally grounded in biological science than current agric. </li></ul><ul><li>Biotechnology will be part of P-M agric. but agroecology is its basic foundation </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Post-modern’ agriculture will be the most modern agriculture, not ‘backward’ </li></ul>
    14. 14. 20th Century Agriculture <ul><li>Built on advances made in engineering starting in 18th century [farm implements and equipment, powered machinery] </li></ul><ul><li>And on knowledge from chemistry from middle of 19th century [esp. fertilizers] </li></ul><ul><li>20th century accelerated improvements made in genetic potentials thru breeding </li></ul><ul><li>The basic approach was to increase and improve the INPUTS made in agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Modern agriculture is ENERGY-intensive -- reducing/displacing labor at expense of land </li></ul>
    15. 15. ‘ The Green Revolution’ <ul><li>Represented a synthesis and culmination of many developments in engineering [ mechanization ] + chemistry [ fertilizers and pest control ] + genetics [ HYVs ] </li></ul><ul><li>The world, and particularly India, would be a much less liveable place without the benefits of the Green Revolution </li></ul><ul><li>The emerging alternative paradigm of ‘post-modern agriculture’ is not a rejection of what the Green Revolution contributed, but opens new opportunities </li></ul>
    16. 16. ‘ The Green Revolution’ Is Reaching Certain Limits <ul><li>Productivity gains are decreasing -- slowdown in yield increases since end of 1980s </li></ul><ul><li>Diminishing returns to fertilizer and other inputs are raising farmers’ costs of production -- evident decline in the productivity of inputs </li></ul><ul><li>Costs of inputs are rising as subsidies are cut; petroleum prices are likely to rise in future </li></ul><ul><li>Water availability for agriculture is diminishing -- we need less ‘thirsty’ methods of production </li></ul><ul><li>Adverse impacts on environment and human health are rising [agrochemicals, water quality] </li></ul>
    17. 17. ‘ Modern Agriculture’ Is Not Sustainable <ul><li>Fortunately, there are alternatives that are </li></ul><ul><li>Scientifically sound , not just fads or fancy </li></ul><ul><li>Environmentally benign , or even enhancing </li></ul><ul><li>Profitable over time, and often immediately </li></ul><ul><li>Employment-generating for social welfare </li></ul><ul><li>More beneficial for human health </li></ul><ul><li>Useable at various scales of production , and </li></ul><ul><li>Evolving and improving </li></ul><ul><ul><li>as more becomes known about them, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>as more farmers and researchers work with them </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. AGROVISION 2004 <ul><li>Will show what ‘post-modern’ agriculture could become by considering what is known about: </li></ul><ul><li>Agroecological innovations around the world </li></ul><ul><li>Organic farming experience and opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Use of biofertilizers, biocides, organic inputs </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The tillage revolution’ in South Asia </li></ul><ul><li>The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) </li></ul><ul><li>Use of green manures and cover crops </li></ul><ul><li>Farming systems with permanent vegetative cover (developed by CIRAD) </li></ul>
    19. 19. Common Themes <ul><li>These various approaches are all together complementary , having shared concerns: </li></ul><ul><li>A different view of SOIL, stressing its life and health -- not regarded as an inert repository for seeds, fertilizer, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>An appreciation of MICROORGANISMS and other SOIL BIOTA -- as creators and maintainers of soil fertility </li></ul><ul><li>Greater attention paid to plant ROOTS as the foundation for agricultural success </li></ul>
    20. 20. Modern Agriculture and Biotechnology Focus on One Species at a Time <ul><li>This ignores the all-important CONTEXT of interactions among plants , among soil organisms , between plants and soil organisms , and of these with animals </li></ul><ul><li>AGROECOLOGY captures the benefits of synergy among these various organisms, capitalizing on the potentials of their existing genomes as they interact with their environments to produce phenotypes </li></ul>
    21. 21. Modern Agriculture and Biotechnology Have Become Overly ‘Genocentric’ <ul><li>Productivity and success in agriculture depend equally on THREE major factors: </li></ul><ul><li>GENETIC POTENTIAL -- the starting point </li></ul><ul><li>INPUTS -- from farmers and environment </li></ul><ul><li>MANAGEMENT -- by farmers to get best results from inputs and to deal with the environment, to create the best fit among genetic potential, inputs and environment </li></ul><ul><li>Agriculture is a highly skilled profession </li></ul>
    22. 22. Pie chart showing 3 factors in equal proportions
    23. 23. Example of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) <ul><li>Achieves yield increases of 50-100% -- or more: </li></ul><ul><li>Without changing varieties </li></ul><ul><li>Without requiring chemical inputs (fertilizer or pesticides) </li></ul><ul><li>Using about 50% as much water </li></ul><ul><li>And only 10-20% as much seed </li></ul><ul><li>With higher grain quality </li></ul>
    24. 24. Single Cambodian rice plant transplanted at 10 days
    25. 25. Rice field in Cuba -- 14 t/ha
    26. 27. Two rice plants in Cuba -- Same variety: 2084 (Bollito) Same age: 52 DAP
    27. 28. SRI field in Sri Lanka -- yield of 13 t/ha with panicles having 400+ grains
    28. 29. Two rice fields in Sri Lanka -- same variety, same irrigation system, and same drought : conventional methods (left), SRI (right)
    29. 30. Analysis of SRI in Sri Lanka <ul><li> SRI Standard </li></ul><ul><li>Yields (tons/ha) 8 4 +88% </li></ul><ul><li>Market price (Rs/ton) 1,500 1,300 +15% </li></ul><ul><li>Total cash cost (Rs/ha) 18,000 22,000 -18% </li></ul><ul><li>Gross returns (Rs/ha) 120,000 58,500 +74% </li></ul><ul><li>Net profit (Rs/ha) 102,000 36,500 +180% </li></ul><ul><li>Family labor earnings Increased with SRI </li></ul><ul><li>Water savings 40-50% </li></ul><ul><li>Data from Dr. Aldas Janaiah, economist at IRRI, 1999-2002, now working at Indira Gandhi Development Studies Institute in Mumbai, data from interviews with 30 SRI farmers in Sri Lanka, October 2002 </li></ul>
    30. 31. Analysis of SRI in Sri Lanka <ul><li>Survey by IWMI of 60 randomly-selected SRI farmers: </li></ul><ul><li>Save seeds 100% Reduced demand </li></ul><ul><li>More tillers 98% for fertilizer 86% </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced need Lower input costs 85% </li></ul><ul><li>for herbicides 92% Higher yield 83% </li></ul><ul><li>Less lodging 91% More milling output 77% </li></ul><ul><li>Higher seed quality 91% Water productivity + 90% </li></ul><ul><li>Water saving 90% Profits > double </li></ul><ul><li>Less pest and Risk of net loss reduced </li></ul><ul><li>disease problem 88% Equal accessibility to poor </li></ul>
    31. 32. The basic idea of SRI is that RICE PLANTS DO BEST when <ul><li>(A) Their ROOTS can grow large and deep because the plants have been </li></ul><ul><li>transplanted carefully , without trauma, and there is </li></ul><ul><li>wider spacing between plants, giving canopies and roots more room and light </li></ul><ul><li>(B) They grow in SOIL that is kept </li></ul><ul><li>well aerated , with abundant and diverse </li></ul><ul><li>soil microbial populations and fauna </li></ul>
    32. 33. Root Activity in SRI and Conventionally-Grown Rice Nanjing Agricultural University (Wang et al. 2002) Wuxianggeng-9 variety
    33. 35. SRI is COUNTER-INTUITIVE <ul><li>LESS CAN PRODUCE MORE by utilizing the potentials and dynamics of biology : </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller, younger seedlings become larger, more productive mature plants </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer plants per hill and per m 2 can give more yield under SRI growing conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Half the water can give a greater yield and </li></ul><ul><li>Increased output is achieved with fewer or no external inputs -- “feed the soil > plant” </li></ul><ul><li>Get new phenotypes from existing genotypes </li></ul>
    34. 36. The contributions of soil microbial activity need to be taken more seriously <ul><li>“ 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) </li></ul>
    35. 37. Water is becoming a greater constraint in agriculture Soil degradation is reducing arable areas <ul><li>Water storage is best done in the soil , is greatly increased by soil biota </li></ul><ul><li>Degraded soil is deficient more in biological than in chemical terms </li></ul><ul><li>Soil erosion is due to mismanagement , ploughing has many adverse effects </li></ul>
    36. 38. AGROVISION Presentations on Agroecological Approaches <ul><li>Will explain principles and give evidence on how productivity can be increased -- profitably and sustainably -- by intelligently capitalizing on biological processes and interactions </li></ul><ul><li>SYSTEMS THINKING is required to understand and take advantage of these new opportunities </li></ul><ul><li> Post (most) modern agriculture </li></ul>