Friday, April 12, 2013

SRI - System of Rice [or Root] Intensification

Something for nothing? This method of rice growing seems to offer that, with labour replacing other inputs.  Does it work?  It seems to for many, with crop yields substantially increased.

It seems as if yield per plant is once again the driver, and with intensified root proliferation, to extract every last vestige of nutrient and water in the soils.

There is some modern science that supports the concept theory, with microbial activity the driver to extract the nutrients and with organic inputs to create more soil carbon as a significant part of the system.

Whatever, it really has driven some monumental changes in parts of India and other areas and even more recently in Indonesia.

This article is a well put together overview of some of the developments, and there are plenty more to peruse online.  In this article the yield increases are staggeringly large, with world record yields of 22.4 tonnes per hectare!

The concept was started by a Jesuit priest / agronomist in Madagascar, but has spread quite widely.

In Indonesia another aspect has been pushed, which is a curious conundrum.

Us in the developed world seem to be able to afford to pay for organic produce, and some want to exercise that right and use organic produce, with consumers in parts of Europe, Japan  and even China fearful of ordinary produce so will pay big money for organic foods.

Some areas of Indonesia have been cleverly developing export markets for this organic produce side, while also achieving higher yields and lower input costs - a real win for the farmers.  They have achieved organic certified status and are using that to drive better prices and overall much superior returns. More on that story here -
That is a very clever outcome.

While some scientists debate the issue, othes have been strong supporters, including some very senior scientists at major international research institutes.

This is an ongoing debate, and the concept has also been extended to some of the other major food crops.

Some say the labour demands are too high.......but that is often the input most readily available to poorer third world farmers, not cash to buy inputs.  But the yield outcomes seem to apply to local unimproved varieties as well as even advanced GM varieties.

Can this be part of another green revolution in crop yields?

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