System of Rice Intensification
The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a farming methodology that aids in increasing the yield of irrigated rice. It is a low-water and labor-intensive method that uses single-spaced younger seedlings that are typically hand-weeded with special tools. It is not a standardized method, but rather a collection of ideas that aid in the comprehensive management and conservation of resources. It was invented in Madagascar in 1983 by the French Jesuit Father Henri de Lausanne. Norman Uphoff, former Director of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development, is credited with spreading the practice around the world. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of this beneficial practice.
- Plants should be established earlier and more quickly to promote healthy and vigorous root and vegetative plant growth.
- Low plant density is maintained to allow for the optimal development of each individual plant and to reduce competition between plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight.
- Soil enrichment with organic matter increases nutrient and water-holding capacity, and microbial life in the soil, and provides a good substrate for root growth and development.
- Water application should be reduced for optimal plant development and to promote aerobic soil conditions.
SRI benefits have been demonstrated in over 50 countries, including increased yields of 20%-100% or more, up to 90% reduction in seed requirements, and up to 50% water savings. This method's principles and practices have been adapted for rainfed rice as well as other crops such as wheat and sugarcane, with yield increases and associated economic benefits.