System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

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About System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

An Alternative in Paddy Cultivation

SRI is a method of paddy cultivation. Initially experimented by farmers in Madagascar in 1980s, now this methods has become popular in many countries. The core principles of this method are using less seed, less water and no chemical fertilizers and pesticides . As rice is the staple food, adoption of SRI method opens up potential water saving and groundwater management issues.

History and Main Ideas of SRI

Assembly of the practices that culminated in SRI began in the 1960s based on Fr. de Laulanie's observations. Principles included applying a minimum quantity of water and the individual transplanting of very young seedlings in a square pattern.

SRI concepts and practices have continued to evolve as they are being adapted to rain-fed (unirrigated) conditions and with transplanting being superseded by direct-seeding sometimes. The central principles of SRI according to Cornell University are:

  • Rice field soils should be kept moist rather than continuously saturated, minimizing anaerobic conditions, as this improves root growth and supports the growth and diversity of aerobic soil organisms;

  • Rice plants should be planted singly and spaced optimally widely to permit more growth of roots and canopy and to keep all leaves photosynthetically active; and

  • Rice seedlings should be transplanted when young, less than 15 days old with just two leaves, quickly, shallow and carefully, to avoid trauma to roots and to minimize transplant shock.

Spread of SRI

The spread of SRI from Madagascar to around the globe has been credited to Dr. Norman Uphoff, director of the International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York from 1990 to 2005. In 1993, Dr. Norman Uphoff met officials from Association Tefy Saina, the non-governmental organisation set up in Madagascar in 1990 by de Laulanie to promote SRI. After seeing the success of SRI for three years when Malagasy farmers previously averaging 2 tons/hectare averaged 8 tons/hectare with SRI, Uphoff became persuaded of the merits of the system, and in 1997 started to promote SRI in Asia. Dr. Norman Uphoff estimates that by 2013 the number of small farmers using SRI had grown to between 4 and 5 million.

Basic SRI methods include

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