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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 http://sririce.org 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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/SRI.innovators/ 
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)

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

  • 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 http://sririce.org 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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/SRI.innovators/ 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)