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System of Rice Intensification (SRI)


System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

In the present scenario of global warming, most scientific studies indicate that our climate is changing, becoming more unpredictable over time. Agriculture is more affected than other sectors of the economy by 'extreme' bad weather events and adverse trends: flooding, drought, heat waves, cyclones, cold spells, typhoons, salinity intrusion, and soil degradation. Unfortunately these are becoming more frequent and wide spread. And sometimes, even forecasting of weather is also ineffective in the present form of weather conditions. Therefore, it is becoming important to consider how our agricultural practices can be modified and adapted to make production of crops and animal more 'climate proof'.

Research on SRI

While breeders should continue their research on genotypes that are better able to cope with pests and diseases and with adverse climatic pressure, we should be looking also to alterations in crop management for quicker, surer, cheaper remedies. Luckily, experience with System of Rice Intensification (SRI), evolved in Madagascar over 25 years ago by Fr. Heneri de Laulanie, pave some ways to make production more climate-secure. The merits of SRI have now been demonstrated in 36 countries, in all the major rice growing countries of Asia and many other countries as well. Its concepts and practices are now being extended beyond irrigated rice, wheat, ragi, sugarcane, beans etc.

Maximizing yields

SRI's modification for log-standing practices produces higher yields from whatever varieties farmers are now using, with significantly less seed and water and increasingly with labour inputs.

This not only boosts production by 50-100 %, and often much more, but also includes greater resistance to pest and diseases and reduces vulnerability to drought, storm damage, lodging and other natural calamities. These effects drive from unseen impacts of SRI management which being below the soil surface get less attention: larger and healthier root system which functions throughout the life cycle of the plant, and greater abundance of microbial and other life in the soil. And in the spacious geometry of paddy makes easy movements of predators in the paddy field.

SRI experience has shown that by modifying the management of plants, soil, water and (mostly organic) nutrients, farmers can raise the productivity of their land, labour, capital and water also. The key practices are:

  1. Transplanting very young seedlings at 2-3 leaf stage of 7-14 days.
  2. Grown in a non-flooded condition, like nursery transplanted singly in a squire pattern (25×25 seq cm) with wider spacing than usual.
  3. Avoiding continuous flooding of paddy fields to maintain mostly aerobic soil conditions.
  4. Applying compost or vermicompost, as much as possible. Synergy among this practice can be considered for from the scientific literature (Mishra et al., 2006: Satyanarayana et al., 2006).

Performance of SRI

Thanks to innovative farmers and NGO partners, SRI has been extended to rainfed rice cultivation. In Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal, PRADAN, PRAGATI and other NGOs have helped very poor farmers there to achieve higher yields even without irrigation. A most important feature is that SRI crops in water short years perform better than regular-grown paddy, an experience also reported from China and Cambodia.

SRI is still working in progress, with innovations being continuously introduced in crop establishment methods like direct-seeding or mechanized transplanting, on more water saving methods, in weed control and other cultural practices. Extrapolation and extension of SRI concepts and methods to other crops is gaining momentum.

SRI started in India in 2000 in different Universities and gaining progress in all over India. And by 2008-2009, the research work is also going on at CSA University Kanpur by the research scholar Jai Vir Singh Yadav under the guidance of Dr. Ram Pyare (agronomist). The result of performance of SRI is positive.

SRI in the present scenario of climate change

In the changing of climatic scenario the SRI can adjust as follows: Climate change is a fact, but continuing advances in agricultural productivity - not just second-best alternatives - is possible despite these pressures, if there are changes in thinking as well as practices. There has been some resistance from the scientific establishment to this alternative, and some who benefit from the current chemical-dependence of Indian agriculture may not be pleased with this new direction. But a diverse set of persons have, as they learn more about SRI, been putting its ideas and principles into practices. The advancing climate crisis will probably enhance interest in SRI. It will be important practices in the coming future to overcome the problems of water crisis, late onset of monsoon because the nursery raising time is lesser, chemical dependence of agricultural crops. And it will play a pivotal role in organic farming also.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.