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Soil management: The key factors for higher productivity in the fields utilizing the system of rice intensification (SRI) in the central highland of Madagascar

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  • Tsujimoto, Yasuhiro
  • Horie, Takeshi
  • Randriamihary, Hamon
  • Shiraiwa, Tatsuhiko
  • Homma, Koki

Abstract

The system of rice intensification (SRI) developed in Madagascar in the 1980s has been promoted as an integrated crop and resource management approach to rice-cultivation, especially for resource-limited smallholder farms. While advocates have claimed that SRI could boost rice yields with less external input, many criticisms have challenged its effectiveness regarding yields and applicability to larger-scale rice farming systems. In this study, we conducted a field survey and on-farm experiments to assess rice yield performance and key management practices on a few of the early SRI-practicing smallholder farms in the central highland of Madagascar. Rice grain yields at the survey fields were 9.9 t ha-1 maximum without using mineral fertilizer. Deep plowing to the depth of 25-30 cm as well as SRI practices have been conducted continuously since the early 1990s. In addition, an effective drainage system facilitated intensive water management at these high-yielding fields. On-farm experiments demonstrated some yield increases with no interaction for the examined SRI practices, though the effects were not great enough to explain the high yields at these fields. The soils of these high-yielding fields contained relatively large amounts of soil organic carbon (SOC) from the surface to the deep soil layers, and the soil mineralizable nitrogen was closely correlated with rice grain yields. The results indicated that the high yields at the fields of those who were early to adopt SRI were mainly due to the soil fertility associated with great nitrogen-supplying ability, rather than 'synergetic effects' of the SRI components. This high N-supplying ability of the soil and accumulated SOC from surface to deep soil layers were attributable to the long-term combined practices of extensive organic applications and deep plowing. Soil hydrology could be another key factor stimulating high rates of soil N-mineralization. These management practices were, however, only applied to the limited numbers of fields within less than 1.0 ha of total landholdings of these farmers due to the great demand in labor and organic resources and the difficulty in controlling irrigation water. Intensive weeding and widely spaced transplanting of young seedlings were also performed in the fields with irrigation and drainage systems sufficient to avoid yield losses from flooding and drought. Although extensive and long-term systematic research is further required to fully assess the benefits of this sort of intensive management as opposed to conventional methods, the preferential allocation of intensive management by the successful SRI-adopters might be the implication of its location-specificity and difficulty in scaling up even within the resource-limited smallholder farms.

Suggested Citation

  • Tsujimoto, Yasuhiro & Horie, Takeshi & Randriamihary, Hamon & Shiraiwa, Tatsuhiko & Homma, Koki, 2009. "Soil management: The key factors for higher productivity in the fields utilizing the system of rice intensification (SRI) in the central highland of Madagascar," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 100(1-3), pages 61-71, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:100:y:2009:i:1-3:p:61-71
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Senthilkumar, K. & Bindraban, P.S. & Thiyagarajan, T.M. & de Ridder, N. & Giller, K.E., 2008. "Modified rice cultivation in Tamil Nadu, India: Yield gains and farmers' (lack of) acceptance," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 82-94, September.
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    3. Ly, Proyuth & Jensen, Lars Stoumann & Bruun, Thilde Bech & Rutz, Dominik & de Neergaard, Andreas, 2012. "The System of Rice Intensification: Adapted practices, reported outcomes and their relevance in Cambodia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 16-27.
    4. Sarr, Mare & Bezabih Ayele, Mintewab & Kimani, Mumbi E. & Ruhinduka, Remidius, 2021. "Who benefits from climate-friendly agriculture? The marginal returns to a rainfed system of rice intensification in Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 138(C).
    5. Noltze, Martin & Schwarze, Stefan & Qaim, Matin, 2013. "Impacts of natural resource management technologies on agricultural yield and household income: The system of rice intensification in Timor Leste," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 59-68.
    6. Stoop, Willem A. & Adam, Abdoulaye & Kassam, Amir, 2009. "Comparing rice production systems: A challenge for agronomic research and for the dissemination of knowledge-intensive farming practices," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1491-1501, November.
    7. Varma, P., 2018. "Adoption and the Impact of System of Rice Intensification on Rice Yields and Household Income: A study for India," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 275986, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Krupnik, Timothy J. & Shennan, Carol & Settle, William H. & Demont, Matty & Ndiaye, Alassane B. & Rodenburg, Jonne, 2012. "Improving irrigated rice production in the Senegal River Valley through experiential learning and innovation," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 101-112.
    9. Noltze, Martin & Schwarze, Stefan & Qaim, Matin, 2012. "Understanding the adoption of system technologies in smallholder agriculture: The system of rice intensification (SRI) in Timor Leste," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 64-73.
    10. Alvarez, S. & Rufino, M.C. & Vayssières, J. & Salgado, P. & Tittonell, P. & Tillard, E. & Bocquier, F., 2014. "Whole-farm nitrogen cycling and intensification of crop-livestock systems in the highlands of Madagascar: An application of network analysis," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 25-37.

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