Zelia Menete Begins SRI Dissertation Research in Mozambique in
Zelia Menete, a faculty member of the Eduardo Mondlane University who studied for her PhD in crop and soil sciences at Cornell University, conducted SRI research in Mozambique for her thesis beginning in 2003. She studied the performance of the System of Rice Intensification on saline soils, which present a particular challenge to Mozambiquan rice farmers. The initial results, from her first season of trials in 2003-2004, were very positive, though the second season of trials were less successful. Whereas the average irrigated rice yield on good soil, using fertilizer inputs, is about 3 t/ha in Mozambique, the first year SRI trial results ranged from 3-4 t/ha to 8 t/ha using only organic inputs and less water (see preliminary report).
2008 Article on SRI in Field Crops Research Journal Shows Disappointing
Results on Saline Soils
During 2008, Zelia Menete and her colleagues published an article in the Journal Field Crops Research about her SRI dissertation research. The study evaluated (i) the performance of SRI-component practices on salt-affected soils, and (ii) possible synergistic effects behind SRI's productive potential. Two replicated experiments were conducted in the Chokwé District, Mozambique in 2004 and 2005. The main trial was established at two sites differing in salinity levels and involved factorial arrangements of irrigation management (flooded, intermittent), compost application (12 Mg ha-1, none), plant spacing (30 cm × 30 cm, 20 cm × 20 cm) and variety (ITA312, IR52). The second trial involved three seedling ages (10-, 20- and 30-days old), and varieties. In each trial soil samples were collected prior to planting and soil chemical and physical properties analyzed.
Intermittent irrigation reduced grain yields by 41–46% compared to conventional flooding. Compost application increased (12–13.5%), and wider spacing decreased grain yields (2.2–11%), as did higher transplant seedling age in the first year (9.3, 8.6 and 7.8 Mg ha-1 for 10-, 20- and 30-days old seedlings, respectively), but not in the second year. Rice compensated for decreased plant density by increasing yield per plant through more tillers and panicles. Interactions among practices were minimal, and in some cases antagonistic among SRI practices. In conclusion, several individual practices, including intermittent irrigation, compost application, and row spacing impacted grain yield, with SRI overall resulting in reduced rice yields. Synergistic effects of SRI practices were not observed for salt-affected soils. (The article is listed below).
- Hoffmaister, Juan P., and Mikael Roman. 2012. Pursuing the link between development and climate change adaptation: The case of rice production in Mozambique. Climate and Development (pp. 1-15, early printing) doi:10.1080/17565529.2012.698591
- Menete, M.Z.L., H.M. van Es, R.M.L. Brito, S.D. DeGloria and S. Fambab. 2008. Evaluation of system of rice intensification (SRI) component practices and their synergies on salt-affected soils. Field Crops Research 109(1-3):34-44. doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2008.06.003
- Menete, Maria Zelia Lopes. 2005. Performance of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) on salt-affected soils in southern Mozambique. Ph.D. diss., Cornell University. 3192137.