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1438 - Development of Small-Scale Equipment for the System of Rice Intensification


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Poster Presentation at the 4th International Rice Congress
Presenter: Lucy Fisher
Title: Development of Small-Scale Equipment for the System of Rice Intensification
Venue: BITEC, Bangkok, Thailand
Date: October 27-31, 2014

Published in: Technology
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1438 - Development of Small-Scale Equipment for the System of Rice Intensification

  1. 1. Development of Small-Scale Equipment for the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Lucy Fisher and Erika Styger SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice) International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York P391 The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an agroecological, knowledge-based methodology for increasing the productivity of irrigated rice by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients while reducing requirements for external inputs. The use of SRI methods, which originated in Madagascar in the 1980s, has spread to over 50 countries in less than 15 years. SRI, which requires less water, seed, and agrochemicals, has increasing appeal for farmers, policy-makers and researchers as a climate-smart methodology that helps farmers adapt to as well as mitigate climate change. See for more information. A bottleneck to adoption of SRI is access to efficient, cost-effective, small-scale equipment, especially in areas where labor is in short supply or increasingly expensive. Development of appropriate equipment is also important for scaling up SRI, which is at present largely practiced by smallholder farmers. Much of the commercially available rice production equipment needs to be adapted to use with SRI methods, which often diverge from most conventional rice production practices by involving: 1) wider spacing, 2) precise planting in a grid pattern, 3) younger seedlings (8-12 days), 4) addition of organic matter, and 5) reduced flooding. INNOVATIONS IN WEEDER DEVELOPMENT Mechanical weeders are important for SRI in order to ● Aerate the surface soil - which improves root health ● Reduce drudgery and labor requirements - since reduced flooding recommended for SRI can allow additional weed growth. While farmers have been quite innovative in dealing with weeds through basic manual designs such as the cono-weeder and multi-row mechanized weeders, adaptations are needed that consider: ● use by women, ● soil type / edaphic conditions ● water availability and control, ● weed type and pressure, The lack of access to weeders in many areas needs to be addressed. The unavailability of suitable larger, mechanized weeders also discourages scaling up for larger-scale farmers. Below are examples of farmer innovations as well as weeders that are commercially available in some areas / countries. FARMER INNOVATION MECHANIZATION BASIC DESIGNS Conoweeder Japanese paddy weeder Bicycle weeder (India) Weeder for inter-cultivation with 9 inch rows (Pakistan) GENDER ISSUES IN WEEDING: MORE OR LESS LABOR? • In many parts of the world, women are tasked with weeding. • SRI can increase labor if weeding is done by hand, since using less water can increase weed growth. • Manual and motorized weeders reduce time and energy needed for weeding. Mrunalini and Ganesh ¹ showed a 78% reduction in women’s labor for weeding when the conoweeder (right) is used. • However, both equipment design and extension services need to be more gender-sensitive to increase widespread adoption of weeders by women. • The use of the mechanical weeders also makes weeding more acceptable to men… which in turn further reduces the burden of weeding for women. The conoweeder can reduce labor for women. MECHANIZED TRANSPLANTERS REDUCE LABOR, BUT… Common transplanters must be modified for use with these SRI practices: • Planting in a square pattern - often 25X25 cm or more • Single, young seedlings –most transplanters cannot consistently grab less than 3 seedlings. • Young seedlings – For 8-12 day old seedlings, transplanters must be modifed to use trays in which seedlings are separated, or by growing seedlings in mats with transplanter adjustments. Mechanized hand-transplanting (left) has been successfully used with SRI methods in Pakistan and the USA. MARKERS HELP PLANT IN A SQUARE PATTERN SRI methods include planting young, single seedlings in a square pattern, often 25X25 cm. A variety of markers have been devised by farmers to help ensure proper spacing that is needed for mechanical weeding (in both directions). These can be made out of rope, wood, bamboo, bicycle wheels, metal, etc . In some areas, rakes or roller markers can be purchased, but farmers more often construct their own. DIRECT SEEDING – AN OPTION FOR SRI? SRI methods can be adapted for direct-seeding equipment although setting machines to maintain spacing within rows can be problematic. Drum seeders (right) and small-grain direct seeders need to be adapted for precision-spacing and 1-2 seeds/hill. Line seeding with subsequent thinning has reported to be economically feasible in a few areas in India, Sri Lanka and Senegal. SRI EQUIPMENT INNOVATORS EXCHANGE The SRI Equipment Innovators Exchange is a Facebook-based forum for those involved in the design and adaption of equipment to share their ideas and get input on improving their weeders, transplanters, markers and other manual and motorized equipment used for use with SRI. See SRI-Rice, the facilitator, also sponsors global SRI equipment workshops. ¹ Mrunalini A., and Ganesh M. 2008. Work load on women using cono weeder in SRI method of paddy cultivation. ORYZA 45(1): 58-61. 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014), 27 October - 1 Nov, 2014, Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC)