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Comparing rice production systems: A challenge for agronomic research and for the dissemination of knowledge-intensive farming practices

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  • Stoop, Willem A.
  • Adam, Abdoulaye
  • Kassam, Amir

Abstract

This article is a commentary on several research studies conducted on the prospects for aerobic rice production systems that aim at reducing the demand for irrigation water which in certain major rice producing areas of the world is becoming increasingly scarce. The research studies considered, as reported in published articles mainly under the aegis of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), have a narrow scope in that they test only 3 or 4 rice varieties under different soil moisture treatments obtained with controlled irrigation, but with other agronomic factors of production held as constant. Consequently, these studies do not permit an assessment of the interactions among agronomic factors that will be of critical significance to the performance of any production system. Varying the production factor of "water" will seriously affect also the levels of the other factors required to optimise the performance of a production system. The major weakness in the studies analysed in this article originates from not taking account of the interactions between experimental and non-experimental factors involved in the comparisons between different production systems. This applies to the experimental field design used for the research studies as well as to the subsequent statistical analyses of the results. The existence of such interactions is a serious complicating element that makes meaningful comparisons between different crop production systems difficult. Consequently, the data and conclusions drawn from such research readily become biased towards proposing standardised solutions for possible introduction to farmers through a linear technology transfer process. Yet, the variability and diversity encountered in the real-world farming environment demand more flexible solutions and approaches in the dissemination of knowledge-intensive production practices through "experiential learning" types of processes, such as those employed by farmer field schools. This article illustrates, based on expertise of the 'system of rice intensification' (SRI), that several cost-effective and environment-friendly agronomic solutions to reduce the demand for irrigation water, other than the asserted need for the introduction of new cultivars, are feasible. Further, these agronomic solutions can offer immediate benefits of reduced water requirements and increased net returns that would be readily accessible to a wide range of rice producers, particularly the resource poor smallholders.

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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agiwat:v:96:y:2009:i:11:p:1491-1501
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Gathorne-Hardy, Alfred & Reddy, D. Narasimha & Venkatanarayana, M. & Harriss-White, Barbara, 2016. "System of Rice Intensification provides environmental and economic gains but at the expense of social sustainability — A multidisciplinary analysis in India," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 159-168.
    3. Mamta Mehra & Chander Kumar Singh, 2019. "Identification of resource management domain-specific best practices in the agriculture sector for the Mewat region of Haryana, India," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 21(5), pages 2277-2296, October.
    4. 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.
    5. Nhamo, Nhamo & Rodenburg, Jonne & Zenna, Negussie & Makombe, Godswill & Luzi-Kihupi, Ashura, 2014. "Narrowing the rice yield gap in East and Southern Africa: Using and adapting existing technologies," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 45-55.
    6. Krupnik, Timothy J. & Rodenburg, Jonne & Haden, Van Ryan & Mbaye, Doudou & Shennan, Carol, 2012. "Genotypic trade-offs between water productivity and weed competition under the System of Rice Intensification in the Sahel," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 156-166.
    7. Thakur, Amod K. & Mandal, Krishna G. & Mohanty, Rajeeb K. & Ambast, Sunil K., 2018. "Rice root growth, photosynthesis, yield and water productivity improvements through modifying cultivation practices and water management," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 206(C), pages 67-77.
    8. Orlando, Francesca & Alali, Sumer & Vaglia, Valentina & Pagliarino, Elena & Bacenetti, Jacopo & Bocchi, Stefano & Bocchi, Stefano, 2020. "Participatory approach for developing knowledge on organic rice farming: Management strategies and productive performance," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 178(C).

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