Friday, November 13, 2009

SRI mechanization in Pakistan

In Pakistan's Punjab Province, Mr. Asif Sharif has designed and tested four machines/implements that enable him to cultivate with SRI concepts and adapted methods on a large scale. The results of the first full mechanization of System of Rice Intensification cultivation methods (called MSRI for "mechanized SRI") have been recently reported on the SRI website. Yields averaged 13 tons/ha. Mr. Sharif devised/modified the implements to substantially reduce the labor requirements for capitalizing on SRI inherent production potentials – and to reduce the crop water requirements by 70% over usual levels of irrigation in Punjab state of Pakistan. (See details of the MSRI process provided by Sharif). The implements include a raised bed maker (that can also carry out banding with compost and fertilizer), a water wheel transplanter (see video), and a precision weeder/soil aerator (see video), among others. An Urdu language interview with Mr. Sharif which was broadcast on Pakistani TV is also available (part I and part II).

Many others around the world have developed or improved upon SRI-related implements and labor-saving machines. We have reported earlier on mechanical transplanters adapted for SRI in Costa Rica and Iraq; and there are others we haven't reported on (for example, here's a farmer-made SRI transplanter in Tamil Nadu) or haven't found yet. Improvements on the rotary weeder used in SRI, including many motorized versions, are ongoing in many countries- especially India. (The WASSAN website has much information on weeders).These are topics for another day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Welcome to the SRI News and Views

Welcome to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) blog! We will use it to pass on information about new SRI initiatives that we learn about, new knowledge resources and project updates that are posted on our website at

For those visiting our blog who are new to the System of Rice Intensification, you can find details about SRI methods and where it is practiced on our primary website or the other websites maintained in several languages by the global SRI community (see web links in the blog's right-hand column).

For those of you who came across our page and don't know what SRI is, briefly:-- The SRI methodology was synthesized in the early 1980s by Fr. Henri de LaulaniƩ in Madagascar. SRI increases rice production and raises the productivity of land, labor, water and capital through several management practices. Although many have adapted SRI to fit their own circumstances, here are the basics:

- Very young (usually just 8-12 days old), single rice seedlings are carefully transplanted in a square grid pattern with a wide spacing (25x25 cm or wider - even up to 50x50 cm with good quality soil).
- Fields are not kept flooded. Soil is kept moist but well-drained and aerated, with good structure and enough organic matter to support increased biological activity. (Only a minimum of water is applied during the vegetative growth period, and then only a thin layer of water is maintained on the field during the flowering and grain filling stage.) There are several water management variations.
- Soil nutrient supplies should be augmented, preferably with compost, made from any available biomass. Better quality compost such as with manure can give additional yield advantages. Many practice organic SRI, although chemical fertilizer can be used and gives better results than with no nutrient amendments. (However, chemical fertilizers contribute less to good soil structure and active microbial communities in the rhizosphere than does organic matter.)
- Weeding, made easier with a rotary hoe, is necessary at least once or twice, starting 10-12 days after transplanting, and preferably 3 or 4 times before the canopy closes.

While SRI can be implemented by most rice farmers, it has been especially beneficial for resource-limited farmers (including those in conflict/post-conflict, post-disaster and other marginalized areas) because yields are increased without relying on external inputs, while risks are reduced. SRI practices use on average 40-50% less water, up to 90% less seed and require less labor overall (after familiarization with the practices). In addition, higher yields are not dependent on purchasing improved seed and agricultural chemicals. Among other benefits noted by various practitioners and researchers are reduced pest/disease incidence, reduced lodging (due to stronger root systems), earlier harvest, reduced methane emissions and reduced environmental degradation (when chemicals are reduced).

SRI methods are also being adapted for other crops such as sugarcane, wheat and millet. We will also be reporting on these topics as news items come up.

We look forward to passing on SRI news and views - including successes, controversies, updates from our main SRI website and other useful information we find in the field or out in cyberspace...