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What Has Been Learned of
Scientific Value from SRI
Research and Experience?
-- And Lots of Questions
Norman Uphoff
SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice)
and Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA)
International Programs/CALS Seminar Series,
January 31, 2018
Most at Cornell have at least heard about
the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) --
and some even know a lot about it.
SRI was controversial from the outset, but it is
now more and more accepted (cf. FAO, IFAD,
World Bank, Nature Plants editorial …. )
NATURE PLANTS 3: 907 (December 5, 2017)
Last month, SRI was
listed first among the
innovations that the
editors of NATURE
PLANTS pointed to
as things that plant
scientists can do to
help the world meet
the SDG goal of
abolishing hunger
This presentation is not about SRI as a crop
management system, but rather about what has
been learned of scientific value (and of practical
value) since we began working with SRI ideas
and methods about 20 years ago
SRI has sometimes been dismissed as
‘just good extension’ or as ‘just good agronomy’
But although SRI is indeed based on both good
extension and good agronomy, this view misses
the fact that SRI has been giving impetus to
scientific endeavors that are advancing the
frontiers of scientific knowledge.
ACCEPTANCE AND USE OF SRI IDEAS AND METHODS
SRI has spread widely since it was validated outside of Madagascar
– first in China in 1999, and then in Indonesia in 1999-2000.
Validity of SRI methods have been shown in over 60 countries (
http://sri.cals.cornell.edu/countries/index.html)
Validation = better and more robust phenotypes from a given genotype
SRI succeeds with both traditional and improved varieties (HYVs/hybrids)
What, in brief, is the System of Rice
Intensification?Changes in the management of plants, soil, water, and
nutrients:
• Wider spacing : transplanting single seedlings in a square
pattern, usually 25x25 cm  reducing plant population m-2
by 80-90%
• Young seedlings : transplanting early, before 4th
phyllochron (<15 d), as this promotes more vigorous
tillering and greater root growth
• Mostly aerobic soil conditions : stop continuous flooding
(AWD) to avoid the degeneration of roots and promote
more aerobic soil biota
• Active soil aeration, using mechanical push-weeder to
control weeds
• Enhanced soil organic matter  better soil structure and
functioning for better root growth and more abundant,
diverse, active soil biota
A prefatory observation:
ANOMALIES ARE -- OR SHOULD BE --
THE ‘DIET’ OF SCIENTISTS
This was said by Prof. Vernon Ruttan, the 1st
agricultural economist at IRRI, and 1st
president
of the RF’s Agricultural Development Council,
then for many years, a Regents professor at the
University of Minnesota
Anomaly = something that deviates from the standard,
the normal, the expected … a challenge for scientists:
if the deviation is beneficial, how to explain it?
Explanation is the fundamental objective of science
START WITH ANOMALIES: CIIFAD was invited
by USAID in 1993 to help save rainforest
ecosystems in Madagascar (Ranomafana
National Park) by giving farmers around the
park who were encroaching on forest ecosystems
some good alternatives to their slash-and-burn
cultivation
Average paddy rice yields were 2 tons per
hectare:
NC State evaluation: ‘worst soils’ – pH 3.8 to 5.0; low
to very low CEC in all horizons; available P was only
3-4 ppm, i.e., less than half the minimum of 10 ppm
How could farmers average 8 tons per hectare on
such terribly poor soils with their same
varieties?
Another anomaly: Data contradicted the widely-held
principle of ‘compensatory mechanisms’ in rice:
that if rice plants have more tillers, they will have
fewer grains per panicle (law of diminishing returns)
Ying J, Peng SB, He Q, Yang H, Yang C, Visperas RM, and Cassman KG (1998),
‘Comparison of high-yield rice in tropical and subtropical environments, I:
Determinants of grain and dry matter yields,’ Field Crops Research 57, 71–84.
_______ Relationship expected from rice science literature at the time
Are rice
plants
function-
ing not as
closed
systems,
but more
as open
systems?
Mechanical
weedings
Farmers
(N)
Area
(ha)
Harvest
(kg)
Yield
(t/ha)
None 2 0.11 657 5.97
One 8 0.62 3,741 7.72
Two 27 3.54 26,102 7.37
Three 24 5.21 47,516 9.12
Four 15 5.92 69,693 11.77
Next anomaly: Big impact on rice yields of SRI’s soil-aerating
weeding -- Ambatovaky, Madagascar, 1997-98 (N = 76)
Not done
with controls
or random
sampling --
just simple
results from
farmers’
fields
What was
going on in
these poor
soils with
no amend-
ments of
inorganic
fertilizer?
Same effect of soil aeration seen later in Nepal
412 farmers in Morang district used SRI methods
in the monsoon season, 2005
SRI yield = 6.3 t/ha vs. control yield = 3.1 t/ha
Data showed that SRI weeding raised crop yield,
probably not just by controlling weeds
No. of No. of Average Range
weedings farmers yield of yields
1 32 5.16 (3.6 - 7.6)
2 366 5.87 (3.5 - 11.0)
3 14 7.87 (5.85 - 10.4)
Same soil aeration effect also seen in Afghanistan
AKF program, Baghlan district, 2008 season (N = 42)
Note: the farmers who did 4 mechanical weedings were also 2nd
-year SRI farmers
Thomas and Ramzi, “SRI contributions to rice production dealing with water
management constraints in northeastern Afghanistan,” PAWE, 9: 101-109 (2011)
6.5
7.4
9.8
13.4
Also, unexpected phenological impact of SRI seen in Nepal:
16 fewer days from seed to seed for 8 rice varieties (412 farmers)
SRI = 125 days (average 6.3 t/ha) vs. 141 days (average 3.1 t/ha)
Varieties
(No. of farmers)
Standard
duration
SRI duration
(range)
Difference
(range)
Bansdhan/Kanchhi (248) 145 127 (117-144) 18 (11-28)
Mansuli (48) 155 136 (126-146) 19 (9-29)
Swarna (40) 155 139 (126-150) 16 (5-29)
Sugandha (12) 120 106 (98-112) 14 (8-22)
Radha 12 (12) 155 138 (125-144) 17 (11-30)
Hardinath 1 (39) 120 107 (98-112) 13 (8-22)
Barse 2014/3017 (14) 135 126 (116-125) 9 (10-19)
Data from 2005 monsoon season, gathered by the Morang District Agricultural
Development Office, Biratnagar, Nepal
Unexpected result from thesis research on SRI by Joeli Barison
in 1998 -- tripled root-pulling resistance (RPR) per plant, and 6x
difference per plant when all SRI methods were used. Research
for his Cornell MS showed a 6-10x difference in controlled
trials.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ANALYSE DE LA 2e VARIABLE : Densité des racines
Tableau 45: Densité racinaire
TRAITEMENTS Moyenne (Kgf) Coefficient de variation
(%)
Trois plants par touffe 60.67 15.6
Un plant par touffe 54.00
JOELIBARSON, PERSPECTIVE DE DÉVELOPPEMENT DE LA REGION DE RANOMAFANA: LES
MÉCANISMES PHYSIOLOGIQUES DU RIZ SUR SOLS DE BAS-FONDS, CAS DU SYSTÈME DE
RIZICULTURE INTENSIVE, MÉMOIRE FIN D’ETUDES, ECOLE SUPERIEURE DES SCIENCES
AGRONOMIQUES, UNIVERSITE D’ANTANANARIVO (1998)
Such differences are hard to visualize: this picture was sent
from Cuba to Cornell by CALS alumna Dr. Rena Perez (’58):
plants are same variety (VN 2084) and same age (52 DAS)
The plant on right was transplanted from the same nursery into an SRI
growing environment when only 9 days old  43 tillers vs. 5 tillers
Next year, divergence in growth was documented week by week on video:
http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/countries/cuba/SICA4web.wmv
Such anomalies and evidence showed us
that SRI management practices can rice
plants’ expression of their genetic potentials
synergistically and beneficially
Genetic potential (genotype) is a starting
point -- with the end point (phenotype)
determined by the interaction between
that potential and the environment
in which the plant grows
G + E + (GxE)  Phenotype
Visual evidence has kept coming to Cornell showing
remarkable differences in phenotype. Again and again we
have seen that with SRI management, same-variety rice
plants can express their genetic potential more fully
These comparisons from Indonesia and
Liberia, while dramatic, show the impact
that changes in management can have
This SRI rice plant given to me by Indonesian farmers in 2009
had a huge root system and 223 tillers grown from a single seed
In Sri Lanka, in 2003, I was given a panicle of rice with 930 grains !
Pictures of same-variety rice plants sent to Cornell by
researchers at the national rice research stations in
Iran (Haraz) and Iraq (Al-Mishkhab, near Najaf)
Researchers wanted to show us how SRI methods were inducing the
growth of larger plants with bigger, healthier rice root systems
Test plots at Al-Mishkhab research station in Iraq where
varietal responses to SRI management were being compared
SRI management methods induce the growth of larger root systems
which also resist senescenceSRI practices (young seedlings, wider spacing, compost, etc.) were used in
the left-hand plots of these paired plots, each with same rice variety, 2007
SRI
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
IH H FH MR WR YRStage
Organdryweight(g/hill)
I H H FH MR WR YR
CK Yellow leaf
and sheath
Panicle
Leaf
Sheath
Stem
47.9% 34.7%
Average weight of rice plant organs at initial heading (IR), heading (H),
full heading (FH), milky rice (MR), waxy rice (WR), yellow rice (YR) stages
Phenotypical comparisons for same variety (CK = control) made at the
China National Rice Research Institute, Hangzhou, 2002
CNRRI comparisons of root volume and root
depth of two hybrid rice varieties, 2002
Traditional rice cultivation (TRC) vs. SRI
Xieyou 9308 Liangyou-peijiu
Tao Longxing, Wang Xi and Min Shaokai, “Physiological effects of SRI methods on
the rice plant,’ China National Rice Research Institute, Assessments of the System
of Rice Intensification, Proceedings from the Sanya conference, April 1-4, 2002
IMPORTANCE OF THE SOIL BIOTA
In addition to the effects of larger, better
ROOTS, we got evidence that beneficial soil
organisms around, on, and inside plants:
– in the rhizophere (root zone),
- in the phyllosphere (above-ground),
- and as symbiotic endophytes (inside plant)
are contributing to the effect that SRI
management has on crop phenotype (Cuba)
This focused ever-more attention on the
soil-plant microbiome
What is going on underground and in plant?
First evidence of beneficial effects of endophytic bacteria
associated with SRI practices -- seen in replicated trials at
Anjomakely, Madagascar, 2001 (Andriankaja thesis, 2002)
CLAY SOIL
Azospirillum in
rice plant roots
(103
CFU/mg)
Tillers/plant
Yield
(t/ha)
Farmer methods
with no soil amendments
65 17 1.8
SRI methods
with no soil amendments
1,100 45 6.1
SRI methods
with NPK amendments
450 68 9.0
SRI cultivation
with compost
1,400 78 10.5
LOAM SOIL
SRI methods
with no soil amendments
75 32 2.1
SRI methods
with compost
2,000 47 6.6
Evidence of differences in the soil microbiota
associated with SRI management from research at
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and ICRISAT in
India, and Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) in Indonesia
“A review of studies on SRI effects on beneficial soil organisms in rice soil
rhizospheres,”
Anas, Rupela, Thiyagarajan and Uphoff, Paddy and Water Environment, 9: 53-64
Evidence of interactive effects of SRI vs. conventional (CON)
management with Trichoderma (T) inoculation vs. no
inoculation (O) on levels of chlorophyll in the rice leaves
Doni, Zain, Isahak, Fathurrahman, Sulaiman, Uphoff and Yusoff, “Relationships observed
between Trichoderma inoculation and characteristics of rice grown under System of Rice
Intensification (SRI) vs. conventional methods of cultivation,” Symbiosis, 72: 45-59 (2017)
Transcriptomic profiling of Trichoderma-rice
plant interactions under SRI management
T. asperellum SL2 – a beneficial fungus
Weeding
Compost
Several important genes were
significantly up-regulated in
Tric + SRI plants compared to
Tric + conv mgmt plants and
SRI + no Tric plants
OsARF12 – root-elongation gene
MOC1 – tillering-related gene
OsPHR2 – P-uptake gene
OsCAND – crown root emergence gene
OsGAE1 -- gibberellin-regulated gene
(phytohormone)
Source: Doni et al. (2017)
OsRBCS1 – RuBisCO-related genes
OsRBCS2 (photosynthesis)
SRI practices
Wide spacing
Young plants
DATA SHOW PHENOTYPICAL
DIFFERENTIATION IN TERMS OF PLANT
MORPHOLOGY AND PLANT PHYSIOLOGY
Measurable and significant differences in the
organs and functioning of SRI-grown plants
Most clearly and systematically documented by
Dr. A.K. Thakur, senior plant physiologist at
ICAR-Indian Institute of Water Management
(USDA Borlaug Fellow, 2011, and Senior
Fulbright Fellow here at Cornell, 2013-14)
Crop Growth Rate: The increased CGR in SRI
crops was mainly due to their maintenance of
leaf area, attributable to lower leaf senescence
The lower rate of leaf senescence might be due
to the larger amounts of cytokinins (more xylem
exudation) transported from the roots.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
30-40 40-50 50-60 60-70
CGR(gm-2day-1)
Period (Days after germination)
Morphological and physiological effects measured between
SRI and recommended management practices in trials at
ICAR-Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar
Uphoff, Fasoula, Anas, Kassam and Thakur, “Improving the phenotypic expression of rice genotypes: Rethinking
‘intensification’ for production systems and selection practices for rice breeding,” Crop Journal, 3 (2015)
Average
changes:
In plant
traits
+47%
Per hill
+145%
Per m2
+28%
Phenotypic evidence of within-plant water efficiency
Comparative analysis of rice phenotypes of the same variety, all
experimental conditions same except for management practices
Trials at ICAR-Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar
SRI rice plants showed greater water-use efficiency as seen
from the ratio between photosynthesis and transpiration
For each 1 millimol of water lost by transpiration,
SRI plants fixed 3.6 micromols of CO2 while
conventionally-grown plants fixed 1.6 micromoles
Such efficiency becomes more important with climate change,
and as water becomes a scarcer factor of production
“An assessment of physiological effects of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) compared
with recommended rice cultivation practices in India,” Thakur, Uphoff and Antony,
Experimental Agriculture, 46(1), 77-98 (2010)
One of the most intriguing research findings:
From research in Madagascar for Barison’s MS thesis in
2002, correlating uptake of nutrients from the soil
and conversion into yield – same relationship for N,
P, K -- this is still awaiting follow-up investigation!
Study of 108 farmers in
4 locations in
Madagascar who were
using both SRI and
usual methods: analysis
of sampled plants’
uptake of N in relation
to their field’s grain
yield – same farmers,
same soil
What is going on here?
ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
SRI crop management practices also affect
rice crops’ ability to adapt to and cope with
the stresses and hazards of climate change
- Drought tolerance and water stress
- Storm damage and lodging
- Resistance to pests and diseases
- Extreme temperatures
Drought resilience seen in Sri Lanka: rice fields planted
with same variety and served by the same irrigation
system, whose reservoir had dried up 3 weeks earlier –
Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total
SRI area (ha) 1,133 7,267 57,400 117,267 204,467 252,467 301,067 941,068
SRI yield (kg/ha) 9,105 9,435 8,805 9,075 9,300 9,495 9,555 9,252
Non-SRI yield (kg/ha) 7,740 7,650 7,005 7,395 7,575 7,710 7,740 7,545
SRI increment (t/ha)* 1,365 1,785 1,800# 1,680 1,725 1,785 1,815# 1,708
SRI yield increase* 17.6% 23.3% 25.7% 22.7% 22.8% 23.2% 23.5% 22.7%
Grain increase
(tons )
1,547 12,971 103,320 197,008 352,705 450,653 546,436 1,664,640
Added net income
due to SRI (million
RMB)*
1.28 11.64 106.51 205.10 450.85 571.69 704.27
2,051
(>$300 m)
* These comparisons for SRI paddy yield and profitability are made with
the provincial average for Sichuan
#
In drought years (2006 and 2010), SRI yields were 12% higher than with
conventional methods in more normal years (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009)
Source: Data from the Sichuan Provincial Department of Agriculture
Province-wide evidence of SRI drought-resistance in
China
from Sichuan Province where 2006 and 2010 were drought
years
resilience
Team from the International Water Management Institute
(IWMI) did evaluation in two districts of Sri Lanka,
comparing the rice crops of 60 farmers who used SRI
methods and 60 matched farmers using conventional
methods. The paddy crop in that 2003/04 maha (main)
season had been subjected to 75 days of severe drought.
• On SRI-grown plants, 80% of the tillers formed panicles, while
only 70% of tillers on rice plants grown with usual management did
this.
• In this drought-stressed season, even though the farmer-practice
fields had 10 times more rice plants per sq. meter, the number
of panicle-bearing tillers per m-1
was 30% higher in the SRI fields.
• Also, on SRI plants, the number of grains panicle-1
was 115 vs.
87.
• SRI harvested yield was 33% higher: 6.37 tons ha-1
vs. 4.78 tons ha-
1
.
“The practice and effects of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Sri Lanka,” Namara,
Bossio, Weligamage and Herath, Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture (2008)
orm resistance in Vietnam:
Adjacent paddy fields after
they were hit by a tropical
storm in Dông Trù village,
Hanoi province, 2005
SRI field and plant on left;
conventionally-managed
field and plant on right
The same rice variety was
grown in both fields.
Serious lodging on right,
but none on the left.
Data on resistance to lodging in China
Lodging-related traits of the third internode from the top of rice plants
as affected by N rates (kg ha-1
) and by management practices during
2008 late season and 2009 double season, Hubei province, China
 N fertilizer
application
Manage-
ment
practice#
Breaking
resistanc
e
(g cm)
Bending
moment
(g cm)
Internod
e length
(cm)
Dry
weight/
length
(mg cm-1
)
 
Diamete
r
(mm)
0
application*
SRI 449a
953a
7.4a
40.4a
4.90a
  MRP 385b
809a
7.5a
39.0a
4.80a
  RecP 350bc
609b
8.6ab
28.2b
4.27b
             
180-195
kg/ha**
SRI 515a
1287a
8.7a
56.9a
5.77a
  MRP 498ab
1171a
9.2ab
46.8ab
5.45ab
  RecP 330bc
1070b
10.8b
37.8b
5.10b
# SRI = System of Rice Intensification; RecP = Recommended management practices; MRP = Modified RecP:
same seedling age, water mgmt, nutrient mgmt. and weeding as for SRI; but plant density = 2x SRI, i.e., ½ of RP
*Averages for 2 seasons: 2009 early and 2009 late **Averages for 3 seasons: 2008 late, 2009 early and 2009 late
Data from “Evaluation of System of Rice Intensification methods applied in the
double rice-cropping systems in Central China,” Wu, Huang, Shah and Uphoff,
Advances in Agronomy, Vol. 132 (2015)
Resistance to both biotic and abiotic stresses in E. Java,
Indonesia: both fields were hit by brown planthopper
(BPH) and then by a tropical storm -- standard practices
on left; organic SRI on right
Modern
improved
variety
(Ciherang)
– no yield
Traditional
aromatic
variety
(Sintanur)
- 8 t/ha
Field evidence of disease and pest resistance:
Evaluation by Vietnamese National IPM Program with
data averaged from on-farm trials in 8 provinces, 2005-06
Spring season Summer season
SRI
plots
Farmer
plots
Differ-
ence
SRI
plots
Farmer
Plots
Differ-
ence
Sheath
blight
6.7% 18.1% 63.0% 5.2% 19.8% 73.7%
Leaf blight -- -- -- 8.6% 36.3% 76.5%
Small leaf
folder*
63.4 107.7 41.1% 61.8 122.3 49.5%
Brown plant
hopper*
542 1,440 62.4% 545 3,214 83.0%
Average 55.5% 70.7%
* Insects m-2
Incidence of rice pests, averaged for 2 varieties
(hybrid Arize 6444, and HYV MTU 1010) and 2 seasons,
ANGRAU, Hyderabad, India, 2008 and 2009
Data from Visalakshmi, Rama Mohana Rao, and Hari Satyanarayana,
“Impact of paddy cultivation systems on insect pest incidence,”
Journal of Crop and Weed, 10(1): 139-142 (2014).
Treatment
Yellow stem borer
Gall midge
% of silver
shoots
Yield
tons ha-1
% of
deadhearts
@ 50 DAT
% of white
ears @
harvest
Conventional 15.15 11.90 7.15 5.17
SRI 6.15 7.25 4.12 5.73
Change (%) -60% -39% -42% +11%
Resistance to cold temperature in India:
Yield and meteorological data from an IPM experiment
affected by sudden unexpected cold spell in A.P.
(ANGRAU)
PeriodPeriod Mean max.Mean max.
temp.temp. 00
CC
Mean min.Mean min.
temp.temp. 00
CC
No. ofNo. of
sunshinesunshine
hourshours
1 – 151 – 15 NovNov 27.727.7 19.219.2 4.94.9
16–3016–30 NovNov 29.629.6 17.917.9 7.57.5
1 – 15 Dec1 – 15 Dec 29.129.1 14.614.6 8.68.6
16–31 Dec16–31 Dec 28.128.1 12.212.2 ##
8.68.6#
Sudden drop in minimum temp. for 5 days, 16-21 December
(9.2-9.9o
C )
SeasonSeason Normal (t/ha)Normal (t/ha) SRI (t/ha)SRI (t/ha)
Rabi (winter) 2005-06Rabi (winter) 2005-06 2.252.25 3.473.47
Kharif (monsoon) 2006Kharif (monsoon) 2006 0.21*0.21* 4.164.16
* Low yield was due to cold injury (see below)
MITIGATION OF GLOBAL WARMING
Evidence is accumulating that SRI methods
reduce greenhouse gas emissions from irrigated
rice paddies by 20-40%, thereby helping to abate
dynamics for global warming and climate change
Methane (CH4) is reduced by stopping flooding
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is reduced when inorganic
fertilizers are reduced; we see little or no N2O
increase when flooding stops -- increases in N2O
generation do not offset the gains of reduced CH4
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is diminished by having
less production, distribution and application
of inorganic fertilizers and agrochemicals
Data on reductions in GHG emissions
• An evaluation for GIZ in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam
found a significant reduction in CH4 of 20%, with a
(NS) 1.4% reduction in N2O -- what was ‘significant’
was that there was no increase in N2O (Dill et al., 2013)
• A life-cycle analysis (LCA) in Andhra Pradesh, India
found that compared to standard practice, use of SRI
practices reduced global warming potential (GWP)
emissions per ha by >25% -- and by >60% per kg of
rice produced(Gathorne-Hardy et al., 2013, 2016)
• Another study by IARI researchers in India found that
SRI methods lowered GWP per hectare by 28%
(Jain et al., 2013)
NUTRIENT CONCENTRATIONS IN THE GRAIN
-- SRI crop management is seen to achieve a kind
of agronomic biofortification
Data are starting to be published on the effects
that SRI management methods -- especially in
conjunction with beneficial microorganisms like
cyanobacteria -- have on nutritional quality of rice
Evidence of micronutrient enhancement in
grain:
iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), manganese
(Mn); also sulphur (S)
Micronutrient accumulation (mg kg-1
) in
rice grains under conventional flooded crop
management vs. System of Rice Intensification
-- evaluating effects of cyanobacteria inoculation with SRI
Data from Adak et al., ‘Micronutrient enrichment mediated by
plant-microbe interactions and rice cultivation practices,’
Journal of Plant Nutrition, 39: 1216-1232 (2016)
  Iron Zinc Copper Manganese
Treatment Conv
.
SRI Conv. SRI
Conv
.
SRI
Conv
.
SRI
Control –
no
fertilizer
40.87
76.03
(+86%
)
12.70
38.73
(+205%)
3.23
6.50
(+101
%)
6.80
11.23
(+65%)
NPK
fertili-
zation
75.00
100.37
(+34%
)
15.56
43.73
(+181%
)
3.93
7.20
(+83%)
7.73
15.80
(104%)
Treatme
nt
S
(%)
Zn
(ppm)
Fe
(ppm)
Mn
(ppm)
Cu
(ppm)
Grain Straw Grain Straw
Grai
n Straw
Grai
n Straw Grain
SRI 0.075a
0.127a
30.4a
48.4a
47.8a
101.0
a
45.2
a
115.6
a
4.6a
CT 0.064b
0.114b
27.0b
39.0b
44.0b
89.7b
40.1
b
108.0
b
3.3b
Differenc
e 0.011 0.013 3.4 9.4 3.8 11.3 5.1 7.6 1.3
LSD 0.003 0.012 2.5 3.8 3.6 7.0 2.8 6.4 0.4
Concentration of secondary and micro-nutrients in rice
grains and straw using System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
vs. conventional transplanting (CT) methods
Data from Dass, Chandra, Uphoff, Choudhury, Bhattacharyya and Rana,
“Agronomic fortification of rice grains with secondary and micro-
nutrients under differing crop management and soil moisture regimes
in the north Indian plains,” Paddy and Water Environment , 15 (2017)
Effects of cultivation practices and nutrient management
on concentration of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn (mg kg-1
) in rice grains
All treatment trials given equal amount of N soil amendment
Treatments Iron Zinc Copper Manganese
Conv. - INM 71.3c 34.1c 3.7d 9.0b
Conv. – Organic 81.6bc 33.8c 4.9c 13.5a
SRI – INM 97.4b 39.2b 6.0b 13.2a
SRI – Organic 117.3a 48.3a 7.1a 16.1a
LSD 0.05 18.4 4.7 1.0 4.1
Conv. = conventional flooded rice mgmt SRI = System of Rice Intensification
INM = integrated nutrient mgmt (inorganic NPK + decomposed cow manure)
Organic = decomposed cow manure + green manure (Sesbania ) + vermicompost
Mean values followed by different letters in a column denote a significant (P≤0.05)
difference between the treatments by Duncan’s multiple range test
Data from article not yet published: “Rice cultivation methods and nutrient management:
Impact on crop growth, physiology, nutrient uptake, and yield,” A.K. Thakur et al., ICAR-
Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar, India, Sept. 2017
Effects of cultivation practices and nutrient management
on micronutrient uptake (kg ha-1
) in rice grains
Treatments Iron Zinc Copper Manganese
Conv. – INM 0.299c 0.143b 0.016b 0.038c
Conv. – Organic 0.326b 0.135b 0.020b 0.054b
SRI – INM 0.588a 0.237a 0.036a 0.080a
SRI - Organic 0.584a 0.241a 0.035a 0.080a
LSD 0.05 0.017 0.009 0.004 0.006
Conv. = conventional (flooded) rice mgmt SRI = System of Rice Intensification
INM = integrated nutrient mgmt. (inorganic NPK + decomposed cow manure)
Organic = decomposed cow manure + green manure (Sesbania ) + vermicompost
Mean values followed by different letters in a column denote a significant (P≤0.05)
difference between the treatments by Duncan’s multiple range test
Data from article not yet published: “Rice cultivation methods and nutrient management:
Impact on crop growth, physiology, nutrient uptake, and yield,” A.K. Thakur et al.,
ICAR- Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar, India, Sept. 2017
MECHANIZATION OF SRI OPERATIONS
Experimentation is going on with mechanization
of SRI, especially in Punjab, Pakistan (Pedavar)
and now in Latin America and Caribbean (IICA)
The aim is to reduce labor requirements and
enhance profitability – and spread the use of
eco-friendly production methods
Seeking to make SRI with its economic and
environmental benefits more attractive and
more feasible where labor availability and/or
cost may be a constraint on SRI adoption
Laser-leveled raised-beds for SRI, etc. in Punjab
First SRI test plot was 44 acres  12 t/ha average yield
with 70% less water and 70% less labor
10-day-old seedlings are dropped into mechanically-
punched holes which are then filled with water. The field
is flooded only once, just after transplanting. Thereafter,
furrow irrigation is used to reduce water consumption.
Radio-controlled tractor weeding precision-
planted raised beds, actively aerating the soil
while furrow irrigation economizes on water
PERFORMANCE OF OTHER CROPS also
being improved with SRI ideas and methods
 System of Crop Intensification (SCI)
Wheat (SWI)
Sugarcane (SSI)
Finger millet (SFMI)
Maize, mustard, tef
Legumes: cowpea, peanuts, soybean, etc.
Vegetables: tomatoes, eggplants, GLVs, etc.
Same factors are operative: Better root systems,
and more active and supportive soil biota….
SRI is not a technology -- it is new thinking
SWI wheat crop in Bihar state of India, Chandrapura
village, Khagarla district – these fields are the same age
and same variety
On-station evidence of weather resilience in wheat
Two seasons of trials evaluating System of Wheat Intensification
(SWI) at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi
during rabi seasons 2011/12 and 2012/13 -- comparing SWI methods
used in Bihar state vs. IARI scientists’ recommended practices
In the normal season, SWI had 30% yield advantage over RP
In a climate-stressed season (first high temperatures, then
excessive rain), SWI’s yield advantage over RP was 46%.
In climate-stressed season, SWI yield reduction was 12.5%,
while the RP reductions ranged from 18% to 31%.
Economic net returns with SWI were 35% higher than RP.
Dhar, Barah, Vyas and Uphoff, “Comparing System of Wheat Intensification (SWI)
with standard recommended practices in the northwest plain zone of India,”
Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science (2015)
Photos sent by Dr. B.C. Barah, Cornell Ph.D. in agricultural economics; former Director, ICAR-
National Center for Agricultural Economics and Policy Analysis (NCAP), and former NABARD
Chair Professor, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
We have learned a lot, but there is still a LOT
that we do not know or do not fully understand!
Interest in SRI at Cornell has been limited, so
we have developed a world-wide network of
researchers and practitioners who have been
carrying forward the scientific work on SRI
SRI-Rice (B75 Mann Library) in IP/CALS Office
continues to be eager to have more Cornell
collaboration – faculty, students, and staff
See me (ntu1) or Lucy Fisher (lhf2), who manages
the SRI-Rice website (http://sri.cals.cornell.edu)
and our SRI research network (255-2920)

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1801- What has been learned of scientific value from SRI research and experience

  • 1. What Has Been Learned of Scientific Value from SRI Research and Experience? -- And Lots of Questions Norman Uphoff SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice) and Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) International Programs/CALS Seminar Series, January 31, 2018
  • 2. Most at Cornell have at least heard about the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) -- and some even know a lot about it. SRI was controversial from the outset, but it is now more and more accepted (cf. FAO, IFAD, World Bank, Nature Plants editorial …. ) NATURE PLANTS 3: 907 (December 5, 2017) Last month, SRI was listed first among the innovations that the editors of NATURE PLANTS pointed to as things that plant scientists can do to help the world meet the SDG goal of abolishing hunger
  • 3. This presentation is not about SRI as a crop management system, but rather about what has been learned of scientific value (and of practical value) since we began working with SRI ideas and methods about 20 years ago SRI has sometimes been dismissed as ‘just good extension’ or as ‘just good agronomy’ But although SRI is indeed based on both good extension and good agronomy, this view misses the fact that SRI has been giving impetus to scientific endeavors that are advancing the frontiers of scientific knowledge.
  • 4. ACCEPTANCE AND USE OF SRI IDEAS AND METHODS SRI has spread widely since it was validated outside of Madagascar – first in China in 1999, and then in Indonesia in 1999-2000. Validity of SRI methods have been shown in over 60 countries ( http://sri.cals.cornell.edu/countries/index.html) Validation = better and more robust phenotypes from a given genotype SRI succeeds with both traditional and improved varieties (HYVs/hybrids)
  • 5. What, in brief, is the System of Rice Intensification?Changes in the management of plants, soil, water, and nutrients: • Wider spacing : transplanting single seedlings in a square pattern, usually 25x25 cm  reducing plant population m-2 by 80-90% • Young seedlings : transplanting early, before 4th phyllochron (<15 d), as this promotes more vigorous tillering and greater root growth • Mostly aerobic soil conditions : stop continuous flooding (AWD) to avoid the degeneration of roots and promote more aerobic soil biota • Active soil aeration, using mechanical push-weeder to control weeds • Enhanced soil organic matter  better soil structure and functioning for better root growth and more abundant, diverse, active soil biota
  • 6. A prefatory observation: ANOMALIES ARE -- OR SHOULD BE -- THE ‘DIET’ OF SCIENTISTS This was said by Prof. Vernon Ruttan, the 1st agricultural economist at IRRI, and 1st president of the RF’s Agricultural Development Council, then for many years, a Regents professor at the University of Minnesota Anomaly = something that deviates from the standard, the normal, the expected … a challenge for scientists: if the deviation is beneficial, how to explain it? Explanation is the fundamental objective of science
  • 7. START WITH ANOMALIES: CIIFAD was invited by USAID in 1993 to help save rainforest ecosystems in Madagascar (Ranomafana National Park) by giving farmers around the park who were encroaching on forest ecosystems some good alternatives to their slash-and-burn cultivation Average paddy rice yields were 2 tons per hectare: NC State evaluation: ‘worst soils’ – pH 3.8 to 5.0; low to very low CEC in all horizons; available P was only 3-4 ppm, i.e., less than half the minimum of 10 ppm How could farmers average 8 tons per hectare on such terribly poor soils with their same varieties?
  • 8. Another anomaly: Data contradicted the widely-held principle of ‘compensatory mechanisms’ in rice: that if rice plants have more tillers, they will have fewer grains per panicle (law of diminishing returns) Ying J, Peng SB, He Q, Yang H, Yang C, Visperas RM, and Cassman KG (1998), ‘Comparison of high-yield rice in tropical and subtropical environments, I: Determinants of grain and dry matter yields,’ Field Crops Research 57, 71–84. _______ Relationship expected from rice science literature at the time Are rice plants function- ing not as closed systems, but more as open systems?
  • 9. Mechanical weedings Farmers (N) Area (ha) Harvest (kg) Yield (t/ha) None 2 0.11 657 5.97 One 8 0.62 3,741 7.72 Two 27 3.54 26,102 7.37 Three 24 5.21 47,516 9.12 Four 15 5.92 69,693 11.77 Next anomaly: Big impact on rice yields of SRI’s soil-aerating weeding -- Ambatovaky, Madagascar, 1997-98 (N = 76) Not done with controls or random sampling -- just simple results from farmers’ fields What was going on in these poor soils with no amend- ments of inorganic fertilizer?
  • 10. Same effect of soil aeration seen later in Nepal 412 farmers in Morang district used SRI methods in the monsoon season, 2005 SRI yield = 6.3 t/ha vs. control yield = 3.1 t/ha Data showed that SRI weeding raised crop yield, probably not just by controlling weeds No. of No. of Average Range weedings farmers yield of yields 1 32 5.16 (3.6 - 7.6) 2 366 5.87 (3.5 - 11.0) 3 14 7.87 (5.85 - 10.4)
  • 11. Same soil aeration effect also seen in Afghanistan AKF program, Baghlan district, 2008 season (N = 42) Note: the farmers who did 4 mechanical weedings were also 2nd -year SRI farmers Thomas and Ramzi, “SRI contributions to rice production dealing with water management constraints in northeastern Afghanistan,” PAWE, 9: 101-109 (2011) 6.5 7.4 9.8 13.4
  • 12. Also, unexpected phenological impact of SRI seen in Nepal: 16 fewer days from seed to seed for 8 rice varieties (412 farmers) SRI = 125 days (average 6.3 t/ha) vs. 141 days (average 3.1 t/ha) Varieties (No. of farmers) Standard duration SRI duration (range) Difference (range) Bansdhan/Kanchhi (248) 145 127 (117-144) 18 (11-28) Mansuli (48) 155 136 (126-146) 19 (9-29) Swarna (40) 155 139 (126-150) 16 (5-29) Sugandha (12) 120 106 (98-112) 14 (8-22) Radha 12 (12) 155 138 (125-144) 17 (11-30) Hardinath 1 (39) 120 107 (98-112) 13 (8-22) Barse 2014/3017 (14) 135 126 (116-125) 9 (10-19) Data from 2005 monsoon season, gathered by the Morang District Agricultural Development Office, Biratnagar, Nepal
  • 13. Unexpected result from thesis research on SRI by Joeli Barison in 1998 -- tripled root-pulling resistance (RPR) per plant, and 6x difference per plant when all SRI methods were used. Research for his Cornell MS showed a 6-10x difference in controlled trials. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANALYSE DE LA 2e VARIABLE : Densité des racines Tableau 45: Densité racinaire TRAITEMENTS Moyenne (Kgf) Coefficient de variation (%) Trois plants par touffe 60.67 15.6 Un plant par touffe 54.00 JOELIBARSON, PERSPECTIVE DE DÉVELOPPEMENT DE LA REGION DE RANOMAFANA: LES MÉCANISMES PHYSIOLOGIQUES DU RIZ SUR SOLS DE BAS-FONDS, CAS DU SYSTÈME DE RIZICULTURE INTENSIVE, MÉMOIRE FIN D’ETUDES, ECOLE SUPERIEURE DES SCIENCES AGRONOMIQUES, UNIVERSITE D’ANTANANARIVO (1998)
  • 14. Such differences are hard to visualize: this picture was sent from Cuba to Cornell by CALS alumna Dr. Rena Perez (’58): plants are same variety (VN 2084) and same age (52 DAS) The plant on right was transplanted from the same nursery into an SRI growing environment when only 9 days old  43 tillers vs. 5 tillers Next year, divergence in growth was documented week by week on video: http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/countries/cuba/SICA4web.wmv
  • 15. Such anomalies and evidence showed us that SRI management practices can rice plants’ expression of their genetic potentials synergistically and beneficially Genetic potential (genotype) is a starting point -- with the end point (phenotype) determined by the interaction between that potential and the environment in which the plant grows G + E + (GxE)  Phenotype
  • 16. Visual evidence has kept coming to Cornell showing remarkable differences in phenotype. Again and again we have seen that with SRI management, same-variety rice plants can express their genetic potential more fully These comparisons from Indonesia and Liberia, while dramatic, show the impact that changes in management can have
  • 17. This SRI rice plant given to me by Indonesian farmers in 2009 had a huge root system and 223 tillers grown from a single seed In Sri Lanka, in 2003, I was given a panicle of rice with 930 grains !
  • 18. Pictures of same-variety rice plants sent to Cornell by researchers at the national rice research stations in Iran (Haraz) and Iraq (Al-Mishkhab, near Najaf) Researchers wanted to show us how SRI methods were inducing the growth of larger plants with bigger, healthier rice root systems
  • 19. Test plots at Al-Mishkhab research station in Iraq where varietal responses to SRI management were being compared SRI management methods induce the growth of larger root systems which also resist senescenceSRI practices (young seedlings, wider spacing, compost, etc.) were used in the left-hand plots of these paired plots, each with same rice variety, 2007
  • 20. SRI 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 IH H FH MR WR YRStage Organdryweight(g/hill) I H H FH MR WR YR CK Yellow leaf and sheath Panicle Leaf Sheath Stem 47.9% 34.7% Average weight of rice plant organs at initial heading (IR), heading (H), full heading (FH), milky rice (MR), waxy rice (WR), yellow rice (YR) stages Phenotypical comparisons for same variety (CK = control) made at the China National Rice Research Institute, Hangzhou, 2002
  • 21. CNRRI comparisons of root volume and root depth of two hybrid rice varieties, 2002 Traditional rice cultivation (TRC) vs. SRI Xieyou 9308 Liangyou-peijiu Tao Longxing, Wang Xi and Min Shaokai, “Physiological effects of SRI methods on the rice plant,’ China National Rice Research Institute, Assessments of the System of Rice Intensification, Proceedings from the Sanya conference, April 1-4, 2002
  • 22. IMPORTANCE OF THE SOIL BIOTA In addition to the effects of larger, better ROOTS, we got evidence that beneficial soil organisms around, on, and inside plants: – in the rhizophere (root zone), - in the phyllosphere (above-ground), - and as symbiotic endophytes (inside plant) are contributing to the effect that SRI management has on crop phenotype (Cuba) This focused ever-more attention on the soil-plant microbiome
  • 23. What is going on underground and in plant?
  • 24. First evidence of beneficial effects of endophytic bacteria associated with SRI practices -- seen in replicated trials at Anjomakely, Madagascar, 2001 (Andriankaja thesis, 2002) CLAY SOIL Azospirillum in rice plant roots (103 CFU/mg) Tillers/plant Yield (t/ha) Farmer methods with no soil amendments 65 17 1.8 SRI methods with no soil amendments 1,100 45 6.1 SRI methods with NPK amendments 450 68 9.0 SRI cultivation with compost 1,400 78 10.5 LOAM SOIL SRI methods with no soil amendments 75 32 2.1 SRI methods with compost 2,000 47 6.6
  • 25. Evidence of differences in the soil microbiota associated with SRI management from research at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and ICRISAT in India, and Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) in Indonesia “A review of studies on SRI effects on beneficial soil organisms in rice soil rhizospheres,” Anas, Rupela, Thiyagarajan and Uphoff, Paddy and Water Environment, 9: 53-64
  • 26. Evidence of interactive effects of SRI vs. conventional (CON) management with Trichoderma (T) inoculation vs. no inoculation (O) on levels of chlorophyll in the rice leaves Doni, Zain, Isahak, Fathurrahman, Sulaiman, Uphoff and Yusoff, “Relationships observed between Trichoderma inoculation and characteristics of rice grown under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) vs. conventional methods of cultivation,” Symbiosis, 72: 45-59 (2017)
  • 27. Transcriptomic profiling of Trichoderma-rice plant interactions under SRI management T. asperellum SL2 – a beneficial fungus Weeding Compost Several important genes were significantly up-regulated in Tric + SRI plants compared to Tric + conv mgmt plants and SRI + no Tric plants OsARF12 – root-elongation gene MOC1 – tillering-related gene OsPHR2 – P-uptake gene OsCAND – crown root emergence gene OsGAE1 -- gibberellin-regulated gene (phytohormone) Source: Doni et al. (2017) OsRBCS1 – RuBisCO-related genes OsRBCS2 (photosynthesis) SRI practices Wide spacing Young plants
  • 28. DATA SHOW PHENOTYPICAL DIFFERENTIATION IN TERMS OF PLANT MORPHOLOGY AND PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Measurable and significant differences in the organs and functioning of SRI-grown plants Most clearly and systematically documented by Dr. A.K. Thakur, senior plant physiologist at ICAR-Indian Institute of Water Management (USDA Borlaug Fellow, 2011, and Senior Fulbright Fellow here at Cornell, 2013-14)
  • 29. Crop Growth Rate: The increased CGR in SRI crops was mainly due to their maintenance of leaf area, attributable to lower leaf senescence The lower rate of leaf senescence might be due to the larger amounts of cytokinins (more xylem exudation) transported from the roots. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 30-40 40-50 50-60 60-70 CGR(gm-2day-1) Period (Days after germination)
  • 30. Morphological and physiological effects measured between SRI and recommended management practices in trials at ICAR-Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar Uphoff, Fasoula, Anas, Kassam and Thakur, “Improving the phenotypic expression of rice genotypes: Rethinking ‘intensification’ for production systems and selection practices for rice breeding,” Crop Journal, 3 (2015) Average changes: In plant traits +47% Per hill +145% Per m2 +28%
  • 31. Phenotypic evidence of within-plant water efficiency Comparative analysis of rice phenotypes of the same variety, all experimental conditions same except for management practices Trials at ICAR-Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar SRI rice plants showed greater water-use efficiency as seen from the ratio between photosynthesis and transpiration For each 1 millimol of water lost by transpiration, SRI plants fixed 3.6 micromols of CO2 while conventionally-grown plants fixed 1.6 micromoles Such efficiency becomes more important with climate change, and as water becomes a scarcer factor of production “An assessment of physiological effects of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) compared with recommended rice cultivation practices in India,” Thakur, Uphoff and Antony, Experimental Agriculture, 46(1), 77-98 (2010)
  • 32. One of the most intriguing research findings: From research in Madagascar for Barison’s MS thesis in 2002, correlating uptake of nutrients from the soil and conversion into yield – same relationship for N, P, K -- this is still awaiting follow-up investigation! Study of 108 farmers in 4 locations in Madagascar who were using both SRI and usual methods: analysis of sampled plants’ uptake of N in relation to their field’s grain yield – same farmers, same soil What is going on here?
  • 33. ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE SRI crop management practices also affect rice crops’ ability to adapt to and cope with the stresses and hazards of climate change - Drought tolerance and water stress - Storm damage and lodging - Resistance to pests and diseases - Extreme temperatures
  • 34. Drought resilience seen in Sri Lanka: rice fields planted with same variety and served by the same irrigation system, whose reservoir had dried up 3 weeks earlier –
  • 35. Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total SRI area (ha) 1,133 7,267 57,400 117,267 204,467 252,467 301,067 941,068 SRI yield (kg/ha) 9,105 9,435 8,805 9,075 9,300 9,495 9,555 9,252 Non-SRI yield (kg/ha) 7,740 7,650 7,005 7,395 7,575 7,710 7,740 7,545 SRI increment (t/ha)* 1,365 1,785 1,800# 1,680 1,725 1,785 1,815# 1,708 SRI yield increase* 17.6% 23.3% 25.7% 22.7% 22.8% 23.2% 23.5% 22.7% Grain increase (tons ) 1,547 12,971 103,320 197,008 352,705 450,653 546,436 1,664,640 Added net income due to SRI (million RMB)* 1.28 11.64 106.51 205.10 450.85 571.69 704.27 2,051 (>$300 m) * These comparisons for SRI paddy yield and profitability are made with the provincial average for Sichuan # In drought years (2006 and 2010), SRI yields were 12% higher than with conventional methods in more normal years (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009) Source: Data from the Sichuan Provincial Department of Agriculture Province-wide evidence of SRI drought-resistance in China from Sichuan Province where 2006 and 2010 were drought years
  • 36. resilience Team from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) did evaluation in two districts of Sri Lanka, comparing the rice crops of 60 farmers who used SRI methods and 60 matched farmers using conventional methods. The paddy crop in that 2003/04 maha (main) season had been subjected to 75 days of severe drought. • On SRI-grown plants, 80% of the tillers formed panicles, while only 70% of tillers on rice plants grown with usual management did this. • In this drought-stressed season, even though the farmer-practice fields had 10 times more rice plants per sq. meter, the number of panicle-bearing tillers per m-1 was 30% higher in the SRI fields. • Also, on SRI plants, the number of grains panicle-1 was 115 vs. 87. • SRI harvested yield was 33% higher: 6.37 tons ha-1 vs. 4.78 tons ha- 1 . “The practice and effects of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Sri Lanka,” Namara, Bossio, Weligamage and Herath, Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture (2008)
  • 37. orm resistance in Vietnam: Adjacent paddy fields after they were hit by a tropical storm in Dông Trù village, Hanoi province, 2005 SRI field and plant on left; conventionally-managed field and plant on right The same rice variety was grown in both fields. Serious lodging on right, but none on the left.
  • 38. Data on resistance to lodging in China Lodging-related traits of the third internode from the top of rice plants as affected by N rates (kg ha-1 ) and by management practices during 2008 late season and 2009 double season, Hubei province, China  N fertilizer application Manage- ment practice# Breaking resistanc e (g cm) Bending moment (g cm) Internod e length (cm) Dry weight/ length (mg cm-1 )   Diamete r (mm) 0 application* SRI 449a 953a 7.4a 40.4a 4.90a   MRP 385b 809a 7.5a 39.0a 4.80a   RecP 350bc 609b 8.6ab 28.2b 4.27b               180-195 kg/ha** SRI 515a 1287a 8.7a 56.9a 5.77a   MRP 498ab 1171a 9.2ab 46.8ab 5.45ab   RecP 330bc 1070b 10.8b 37.8b 5.10b # SRI = System of Rice Intensification; RecP = Recommended management practices; MRP = Modified RecP: same seedling age, water mgmt, nutrient mgmt. and weeding as for SRI; but plant density = 2x SRI, i.e., ½ of RP *Averages for 2 seasons: 2009 early and 2009 late **Averages for 3 seasons: 2008 late, 2009 early and 2009 late Data from “Evaluation of System of Rice Intensification methods applied in the double rice-cropping systems in Central China,” Wu, Huang, Shah and Uphoff, Advances in Agronomy, Vol. 132 (2015)
  • 39. Resistance to both biotic and abiotic stresses in E. Java, Indonesia: both fields were hit by brown planthopper (BPH) and then by a tropical storm -- standard practices on left; organic SRI on right Modern improved variety (Ciherang) – no yield Traditional aromatic variety (Sintanur) - 8 t/ha
  • 40. Field evidence of disease and pest resistance: Evaluation by Vietnamese National IPM Program with data averaged from on-farm trials in 8 provinces, 2005-06 Spring season Summer season SRI plots Farmer plots Differ- ence SRI plots Farmer Plots Differ- ence Sheath blight 6.7% 18.1% 63.0% 5.2% 19.8% 73.7% Leaf blight -- -- -- 8.6% 36.3% 76.5% Small leaf folder* 63.4 107.7 41.1% 61.8 122.3 49.5% Brown plant hopper* 542 1,440 62.4% 545 3,214 83.0% Average 55.5% 70.7% * Insects m-2
  • 41. Incidence of rice pests, averaged for 2 varieties (hybrid Arize 6444, and HYV MTU 1010) and 2 seasons, ANGRAU, Hyderabad, India, 2008 and 2009 Data from Visalakshmi, Rama Mohana Rao, and Hari Satyanarayana, “Impact of paddy cultivation systems on insect pest incidence,” Journal of Crop and Weed, 10(1): 139-142 (2014). Treatment Yellow stem borer Gall midge % of silver shoots Yield tons ha-1 % of deadhearts @ 50 DAT % of white ears @ harvest Conventional 15.15 11.90 7.15 5.17 SRI 6.15 7.25 4.12 5.73 Change (%) -60% -39% -42% +11%
  • 42. Resistance to cold temperature in India: Yield and meteorological data from an IPM experiment affected by sudden unexpected cold spell in A.P. (ANGRAU) PeriodPeriod Mean max.Mean max. temp.temp. 00 CC Mean min.Mean min. temp.temp. 00 CC No. ofNo. of sunshinesunshine hourshours 1 – 151 – 15 NovNov 27.727.7 19.219.2 4.94.9 16–3016–30 NovNov 29.629.6 17.917.9 7.57.5 1 – 15 Dec1 – 15 Dec 29.129.1 14.614.6 8.68.6 16–31 Dec16–31 Dec 28.128.1 12.212.2 ## 8.68.6# Sudden drop in minimum temp. for 5 days, 16-21 December (9.2-9.9o C ) SeasonSeason Normal (t/ha)Normal (t/ha) SRI (t/ha)SRI (t/ha) Rabi (winter) 2005-06Rabi (winter) 2005-06 2.252.25 3.473.47 Kharif (monsoon) 2006Kharif (monsoon) 2006 0.21*0.21* 4.164.16 * Low yield was due to cold injury (see below)
  • 43. MITIGATION OF GLOBAL WARMING Evidence is accumulating that SRI methods reduce greenhouse gas emissions from irrigated rice paddies by 20-40%, thereby helping to abate dynamics for global warming and climate change Methane (CH4) is reduced by stopping flooding Nitrous oxide (N2O) is reduced when inorganic fertilizers are reduced; we see little or no N2O increase when flooding stops -- increases in N2O generation do not offset the gains of reduced CH4 Carbon dioxide (CO2) is diminished by having less production, distribution and application of inorganic fertilizers and agrochemicals
  • 44. Data on reductions in GHG emissions • An evaluation for GIZ in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam found a significant reduction in CH4 of 20%, with a (NS) 1.4% reduction in N2O -- what was ‘significant’ was that there was no increase in N2O (Dill et al., 2013) • A life-cycle analysis (LCA) in Andhra Pradesh, India found that compared to standard practice, use of SRI practices reduced global warming potential (GWP) emissions per ha by >25% -- and by >60% per kg of rice produced(Gathorne-Hardy et al., 2013, 2016) • Another study by IARI researchers in India found that SRI methods lowered GWP per hectare by 28% (Jain et al., 2013)
  • 45. NUTRIENT CONCENTRATIONS IN THE GRAIN -- SRI crop management is seen to achieve a kind of agronomic biofortification Data are starting to be published on the effects that SRI management methods -- especially in conjunction with beneficial microorganisms like cyanobacteria -- have on nutritional quality of rice Evidence of micronutrient enhancement in grain: iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn); also sulphur (S)
  • 46. Micronutrient accumulation (mg kg-1 ) in rice grains under conventional flooded crop management vs. System of Rice Intensification -- evaluating effects of cyanobacteria inoculation with SRI Data from Adak et al., ‘Micronutrient enrichment mediated by plant-microbe interactions and rice cultivation practices,’ Journal of Plant Nutrition, 39: 1216-1232 (2016)   Iron Zinc Copper Manganese Treatment Conv . SRI Conv. SRI Conv . SRI Conv . SRI Control – no fertilizer 40.87 76.03 (+86% ) 12.70 38.73 (+205%) 3.23 6.50 (+101 %) 6.80 11.23 (+65%) NPK fertili- zation 75.00 100.37 (+34% ) 15.56 43.73 (+181% ) 3.93 7.20 (+83%) 7.73 15.80 (104%)
  • 47. Treatme nt S (%) Zn (ppm) Fe (ppm) Mn (ppm) Cu (ppm) Grain Straw Grain Straw Grai n Straw Grai n Straw Grain SRI 0.075a 0.127a 30.4a 48.4a 47.8a 101.0 a 45.2 a 115.6 a 4.6a CT 0.064b 0.114b 27.0b 39.0b 44.0b 89.7b 40.1 b 108.0 b 3.3b Differenc e 0.011 0.013 3.4 9.4 3.8 11.3 5.1 7.6 1.3 LSD 0.003 0.012 2.5 3.8 3.6 7.0 2.8 6.4 0.4 Concentration of secondary and micro-nutrients in rice grains and straw using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) vs. conventional transplanting (CT) methods Data from Dass, Chandra, Uphoff, Choudhury, Bhattacharyya and Rana, “Agronomic fortification of rice grains with secondary and micro- nutrients under differing crop management and soil moisture regimes in the north Indian plains,” Paddy and Water Environment , 15 (2017)
  • 48. Effects of cultivation practices and nutrient management on concentration of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn (mg kg-1 ) in rice grains All treatment trials given equal amount of N soil amendment Treatments Iron Zinc Copper Manganese Conv. - INM 71.3c 34.1c 3.7d 9.0b Conv. – Organic 81.6bc 33.8c 4.9c 13.5a SRI – INM 97.4b 39.2b 6.0b 13.2a SRI – Organic 117.3a 48.3a 7.1a 16.1a LSD 0.05 18.4 4.7 1.0 4.1 Conv. = conventional flooded rice mgmt SRI = System of Rice Intensification INM = integrated nutrient mgmt (inorganic NPK + decomposed cow manure) Organic = decomposed cow manure + green manure (Sesbania ) + vermicompost Mean values followed by different letters in a column denote a significant (P≤0.05) difference between the treatments by Duncan’s multiple range test Data from article not yet published: “Rice cultivation methods and nutrient management: Impact on crop growth, physiology, nutrient uptake, and yield,” A.K. Thakur et al., ICAR- Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar, India, Sept. 2017
  • 49. Effects of cultivation practices and nutrient management on micronutrient uptake (kg ha-1 ) in rice grains Treatments Iron Zinc Copper Manganese Conv. – INM 0.299c 0.143b 0.016b 0.038c Conv. – Organic 0.326b 0.135b 0.020b 0.054b SRI – INM 0.588a 0.237a 0.036a 0.080a SRI - Organic 0.584a 0.241a 0.035a 0.080a LSD 0.05 0.017 0.009 0.004 0.006 Conv. = conventional (flooded) rice mgmt SRI = System of Rice Intensification INM = integrated nutrient mgmt. (inorganic NPK + decomposed cow manure) Organic = decomposed cow manure + green manure (Sesbania ) + vermicompost Mean values followed by different letters in a column denote a significant (P≤0.05) difference between the treatments by Duncan’s multiple range test Data from article not yet published: “Rice cultivation methods and nutrient management: Impact on crop growth, physiology, nutrient uptake, and yield,” A.K. Thakur et al., ICAR- Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar, India, Sept. 2017
  • 50. MECHANIZATION OF SRI OPERATIONS Experimentation is going on with mechanization of SRI, especially in Punjab, Pakistan (Pedavar) and now in Latin America and Caribbean (IICA) The aim is to reduce labor requirements and enhance profitability – and spread the use of eco-friendly production methods Seeking to make SRI with its economic and environmental benefits more attractive and more feasible where labor availability and/or cost may be a constraint on SRI adoption
  • 51. Laser-leveled raised-beds for SRI, etc. in Punjab First SRI test plot was 44 acres  12 t/ha average yield with 70% less water and 70% less labor
  • 52. 10-day-old seedlings are dropped into mechanically- punched holes which are then filled with water. The field is flooded only once, just after transplanting. Thereafter, furrow irrigation is used to reduce water consumption.
  • 53. Radio-controlled tractor weeding precision- planted raised beds, actively aerating the soil while furrow irrigation economizes on water
  • 54. PERFORMANCE OF OTHER CROPS also being improved with SRI ideas and methods  System of Crop Intensification (SCI) Wheat (SWI) Sugarcane (SSI) Finger millet (SFMI) Maize, mustard, tef Legumes: cowpea, peanuts, soybean, etc. Vegetables: tomatoes, eggplants, GLVs, etc. Same factors are operative: Better root systems, and more active and supportive soil biota…. SRI is not a technology -- it is new thinking
  • 55. SWI wheat crop in Bihar state of India, Chandrapura village, Khagarla district – these fields are the same age and same variety
  • 56. On-station evidence of weather resilience in wheat Two seasons of trials evaluating System of Wheat Intensification (SWI) at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi during rabi seasons 2011/12 and 2012/13 -- comparing SWI methods used in Bihar state vs. IARI scientists’ recommended practices In the normal season, SWI had 30% yield advantage over RP In a climate-stressed season (first high temperatures, then excessive rain), SWI’s yield advantage over RP was 46%. In climate-stressed season, SWI yield reduction was 12.5%, while the RP reductions ranged from 18% to 31%. Economic net returns with SWI were 35% higher than RP. Dhar, Barah, Vyas and Uphoff, “Comparing System of Wheat Intensification (SWI) with standard recommended practices in the northwest plain zone of India,” Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science (2015)
  • 57. Photos sent by Dr. B.C. Barah, Cornell Ph.D. in agricultural economics; former Director, ICAR- National Center for Agricultural Economics and Policy Analysis (NCAP), and former NABARD Chair Professor, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)
  • 58. We have learned a lot, but there is still a LOT that we do not know or do not fully understand! Interest in SRI at Cornell has been limited, so we have developed a world-wide network of researchers and practitioners who have been carrying forward the scientific work on SRI SRI-Rice (B75 Mann Library) in IP/CALS Office continues to be eager to have more Cornell collaboration – faculty, students, and staff See me (ntu1) or Lucy Fisher (lhf2), who manages the SRI-Rice website (http://sri.cals.cornell.edu) and our SRI research network (255-2920)

Editor's Notes

  1. From report by Rajendra Uprety, District Agricultural Development Office, Biratnagar, Nepal – for Morang District. Available from SRI home page on the web.
  2. Source: Uphoff, 2011.
  3. Figures from a paper presented by Dr. Tao to international rice conference organized by the China National Rice Research Institute for the International Year of Rice and World Food Day, held in Hangzhou, October 15-17, 2004. Dr. Tao has been doing research on SRI since 2001 to evaluate its effects in physiological terms.
  4. These data were reported in Prof. Robert Randriamiharisoa&amp;apos;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 &amp;quot;indicator species&amp;quot; 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.