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Conservation Agriculture and the
System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
As with SRI, Conservation Agriculture (CA) is an agroecological method of raising crop
yields through enhancing and protecting soil and plant health. These two methodologies
work well together, and can enhance each other’s efficacy.

CA has three
core principles

1. Minimize or eliminate
soil disturbance

How CA works

Bare soils, monocropping and conventional tillage practices degrade soils by causing erosion, plow pans, disruption
to soil biota, loss of soil organic matter and mining of nutrients favored by the monocropped plant. CA addresses
this by focusing on agricultural practices that make soil health the basis for crop production.

CA and SRI
working
together

CA can offer to maximize the beneficial effects of SRI while minimizing soil disturbance and improving soil health.
A few examples of CA and SRI include:
Raised bed with
rice stubble after
harvest

Raised bed
with rice straw
being returned
as mulch

2. Maintain soil organic
cover at all times

No-till, mechanized CA rice
production in
North Korea.
(Source: Amir
Kassam)

No-till SRI rice
followed by notill vegetables on
raised beds and
furrows in Sofia,
Madagascar.
(Source: Amir
Kassam)

Vegetable
production
after SRI rice
harvest with
rice straw
mulch

3. Crop diversification through rotations,
associations, and sequences

Rice being transplanted
into un-tilled paddy

Rice
growing
through
mulch
cover
Wheat being
directly drilled into
un-tilled rice stubble

SRI rice nursery

Hand transplanting
via ride-on
tractor attachment

Rice close-up

Precision, mechanized SRI using dry
soil transplanting
and permanent
beds in the
Punjab Region
of Pakistan.
(Source: Asif Sharif)

Close-up of hand
transplanting attachment

Mechanization
challenges and
opportunities

Conventional irrigated rice soil cultivation relays on soil puddling, where soil structure is intentionally destroyed –
this contradicts the CA principles. On the other hand, SRI and CA can integrate, as SRI focuses on creating organic
matter-enriched and aerated soil – even for irrigated rice. Successful examples for SRI/CA integration are based on
permanent raised beds, soils covered by mulch, and including the rotation with another crop. Machines need to be
able to transplant single seedlings in precise spacing either into mulched surface or on clean soils (as seen in the
photos above). As the combination of SRI and CA is a new concept, there is currently a lack of good machine prototypes being developed and made available for farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

What‘s next?

FAO (www.fao.org/ag/ca) and SRI-Rice (www.sririce.org) are collaborating to promote the integration of CA and SRI,
a new concept. This includes the new development of specific mechanized equipment -- including transplanters
and direct-seeders -- to facilitate the spread of CA/SRI geographically, focusing primarily on small-holder farmers,
and second on medium and larger scale farmers.

The Food
and Agriculture
Organization
of the
United Nations

Poster 5.indd 1

Contact: Amir Kassam (FAO), amir.kassam@fao.org; Josef Kienzle (FAO), josef.kienzle@fao.org;
Erika Styger (SRI-Rice, Cornell University), eds8@cornell.edu;
www.fao.org/agriculture/crops/thematic-sitemap/theme/spi/en - www.sririce.org

The SRI
International
Network and
Resources Center at
Cornell University

10/30/13 11:31 AM

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1319 - Conservation Agriculture and the System of Rice Intensification

  • 1. Conservation Agriculture and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) As with SRI, Conservation Agriculture (CA) is an agroecological method of raising crop yields through enhancing and protecting soil and plant health. These two methodologies work well together, and can enhance each other’s efficacy. CA has three core principles 1. Minimize or eliminate soil disturbance How CA works Bare soils, monocropping and conventional tillage practices degrade soils by causing erosion, plow pans, disruption to soil biota, loss of soil organic matter and mining of nutrients favored by the monocropped plant. CA addresses this by focusing on agricultural practices that make soil health the basis for crop production. CA and SRI working together CA can offer to maximize the beneficial effects of SRI while minimizing soil disturbance and improving soil health. A few examples of CA and SRI include: Raised bed with rice stubble after harvest Raised bed with rice straw being returned as mulch 2. Maintain soil organic cover at all times No-till, mechanized CA rice production in North Korea. (Source: Amir Kassam) No-till SRI rice followed by notill vegetables on raised beds and furrows in Sofia, Madagascar. (Source: Amir Kassam) Vegetable production after SRI rice harvest with rice straw mulch 3. Crop diversification through rotations, associations, and sequences Rice being transplanted into un-tilled paddy Rice growing through mulch cover Wheat being directly drilled into un-tilled rice stubble SRI rice nursery Hand transplanting via ride-on tractor attachment Rice close-up Precision, mechanized SRI using dry soil transplanting and permanent beds in the Punjab Region of Pakistan. (Source: Asif Sharif) Close-up of hand transplanting attachment Mechanization challenges and opportunities Conventional irrigated rice soil cultivation relays on soil puddling, where soil structure is intentionally destroyed – this contradicts the CA principles. On the other hand, SRI and CA can integrate, as SRI focuses on creating organic matter-enriched and aerated soil – even for irrigated rice. Successful examples for SRI/CA integration are based on permanent raised beds, soils covered by mulch, and including the rotation with another crop. Machines need to be able to transplant single seedlings in precise spacing either into mulched surface or on clean soils (as seen in the photos above). As the combination of SRI and CA is a new concept, there is currently a lack of good machine prototypes being developed and made available for farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. What‘s next? FAO (www.fao.org/ag/ca) and SRI-Rice (www.sririce.org) are collaborating to promote the integration of CA and SRI, a new concept. This includes the new development of specific mechanized equipment -- including transplanters and direct-seeders -- to facilitate the spread of CA/SRI geographically, focusing primarily on small-holder farmers, and second on medium and larger scale farmers. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Poster 5.indd 1 Contact: Amir Kassam (FAO), amir.kassam@fao.org; Josef Kienzle (FAO), josef.kienzle@fao.org; Erika Styger (SRI-Rice, Cornell University), eds8@cornell.edu; www.fao.org/agriculture/crops/thematic-sitemap/theme/spi/en - www.sririce.org The SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University 10/30/13 11:31 AM