SRI-UPDATE #7 - September 2006

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From: Norman Uphoff
Subject: SRI-UPDATE-L #7 (September 2006)

Dear SRI-Update-L subscriber,

This is the seventh in the SRI UPDATE series that is being sent out 7-8 times per year. Enhanced versions of these e-updates and archives are available on the SRI website. This url also contains information on subscriptions for other SRI groups in other countries.

The numbered listing of sections below provides an overview of the contents of this Update, to let you know what items are included. To subscribe to the interactive SRI discussion list, instead of this announcement-only list, see

-Norman Uphoff
for CIIFAD SRI Group

1. 2nd International Rice Congress will have SRI presentations
2. Contacts expanding with Japanese rice science community
3. Presentation on SRI to ICID meeting in Malaysia
4. Government support for SRI extension in Cambodia
5. SRI training starting across the Philippines
6. Philippine National Irrigation Administration (NIA) manager promotes SRI
7. Productivity benefits of 1 plant per hill vs. 3 plants per hill documented by researchers


Colleagues from a number of countries have reported that their proposed posters on SRI have been accepted for display at the International Rice Congress being held in New Delhi, October 9-13: Bhuban Barah from the National Center for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research in India on the comparative evaluations of SRI being done across a number of Indian states; Abha Mishra from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok reporting on experimental work at AIT and farmer-participatory research in Cambodia; Karma Llendrup from Sherubutse College in Bhutan on his introductory trials of SRI in that country; and Rajendra Uprety from the District Agricultural Development Office in Biratnagar, Nepal, on SRI experience in Morang District.

There may be other SRI colleagues attending the Congress that we at Cornell have not been informed about. Dr. Tao Longxing from the China National Rice Research Institute in Hangzhou, who did some of the first work on phenotypical differences in SRI rice plants, will be attending. Norman Uphoff will make a formal presentation on SRI in a panel on water policy and use. He will be staying at the Asoka Hotel, the Congress venue, so messages can be left for him at the desk there if anyone attending the Congress wants to have discussions or informal meetings on SRI.

During his home leave in August, Shuichi Sato, project director for Nippon Koei in Eastern Indonesia, met with Dr. Takeshi Horie, director of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Japan, and also Yasuhiro Tsujimoto, Horie's PhD student who has been doing thesis research in Madagascar on SRI in cooperation with Association Tefy Saina. Tsujimoto's findings on the soils that produce very high SRI yields should be of wide interest. In Update #1, we noted Prof. Horie's paper assessing SRI in light of Japanese rice science research findings, presented to the 4th International Soil Science Conference in 2004 and subsequently published in /Plant Production Sciences/, 8: 257-272 (

Sato-san then made a presentation on SRI to agriculture faculty of the University of Tokyo, and it was decided to send a team of 9 researchers, from a full professor to four post-graduate students, to visit SRI fields in Lombok in October. On August 29-September 1, after Sato-san had returned to Indonesia, Dr. Yamaji from University of Tokyo visited Sulawesi for a second visit to observe SRI plots. Linkages with Japanese rice scientists are expanding and deepening, a very welcome development.

On September 14, Shuichi Sato made a presentation on SRI to an international workshop on Water-Saving Production in Rice Paddy Cultivation being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was part of the 57th Meeting of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID). While agronomists have been most concerned with SRI yield effects, other professions such as civil engineering are particularly interested in water management/saving aspects with SRI. Thanks to WWF's program in India, biologists and ecologists are starting to get engaged with environmental impacts. We have yet to see any systematic interest in assessing economic profitability and factor productivity effects of SRI.

With support from GTZ and Oxfam, the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) and the Department of Agriculture and Land Improvement of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) organized a national workshop on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) held 7 August at MAFF headquarters. The 165 participants included officials from all Provincial Departments of Agriculture, farmers, researchers, representatives of NGOs, and international organizations. The workshop reviewed the progress of SRI in Cambodia, sharing experiences and lessons learned, and promoting wider dissemination of SRI in Cambodia.

The Minister of Agriculture attended both the opening and the closing sessions of the workshop. In his speech, he urged all government officials to widely promote SRI in Cambodia, especially to promote SRI without using agro-chemicals. He also encouraged all directors of Provincial Agriculture Departments to pay more attention to learning from farmers and to documenting farmer innovations, which he characterized as important assets for the country's agricultural development. The Minister also emphasized the need to conserve traditional rice varieties as they are "our national treasure."

On 10 August, the Minister organized a study trip for around 200 people from 11 provinces to visit SRI farmers in Tramkok district, Takeo province. This is where CEDAC and MAFF, with funding support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), are working together to improve the situation of small-farm households through ecological agriculture. At the end of the study tour, the Minister instructed all directors of Provincial Departments to make sure that in each commune there should be at least one SRI demonstration. He strongly recommended the farmer-to-farmer extension approach, especially farmers visiting farmers, to promote SRI.

SRI-Pilipinas, a consortium of farmers' groups, civil society organizations, academics and government researchers promoting the System of Rice Intensification in the Philippines, has launched a nationwide training program on SRI principles and practices, funded by the Department of Agriculture. The initial events --one-day training sessions that include hands-on experience in transplanting very young rice seedlings -- will be conducted in 90% of Philippine provinces, all those that produce >20,000 tons of rough rice a year. Each session will include about 25 participants drawn from farmers' groups, local governments, agriculture technicians and other interested individuals, persons who can spread that they have learned to others.

Five trainings have been completed already, in Quezon province on Luzon and in Iloilo, Bohol, Leyte and Biliran provinces in the Visayas. SRI-Pilipinas coordinator Roberto Verzola hopes to cover at least two provinces in each of the country's 16 regions by the next planting season, with the rest of the targetted provinces to be covered in the next season.

When Engr. Bong Salazar, at the time a Regional Irrigation Manager in eastern Mindanao, first learned about SRI in 2003, he incorporated its practices in his own on-farm experiments and harvested a yield of 138 cavans (6.9 tons) from his one-hectare field. The crop cuts were witnessed by Department of Agriculture's Undersecretary Edmund Sana. The next year, Salazar got 178 cavans (8.9 tons) per ha with SRI methods from a two-hectare field, and in 2005, from the same field he got a yield of 192 cavans (9.6 tons) per ha.

Initially, Salazar called his methods "the Salazar System of Rice Intensification (SSRI)," but he now calls it the "Sustainable System of Irrigated Agriculture" (SSIA). The system involves transplanting 8-10 day-old seedlings; single seedlings per hill and wide spacing, at least 25 cm; flooding the field for 3 days and then keeping it drained for 7 days; controlling weeds with a mechanical weeder; and use of organic fertilizers plus his own formulation of organic pesticides.

Salazar was subsequently appointed as head of NIA's regional office in Northern Mindanao, and he was then brought to NIA headquarters to serve as Assistant Administrator. According to Salazar, SSIA will help NIA solve two major problems: its inability to service all irrigable areas, and low collection rates. With water savings of 40-60%, Salazar says that SSIA will enable NIA to service more farmers with the same infrastructure and same amount of water available; and by helping farmers raise their incomes, NIA should be able to improve its collection efficiency, especially if farmers appreciate NIA's role in bringing SSIA benefits to them. Today, Salazar gets invited to many parts of the country to talk about SSIA and about the improved yields and reduced costs that it achieves.

An article in /_Field Crops Research_/ (2006, vol. 26, pp. 113-124) by Yumiko San-Oh and colleagues -- "The effect of planting pattern on the rate of photosynthesis and related processes during ripening in rice plants"-- should be of interest to anyone interested in (or skeptical about) SRI. Here is the abstract:

• Rice plants (/Oryaz sativa/ L.) planted in such a manner that each hill contains one plant (pattern I) produce more dry matter than plants planted such that each hill contains (pattern III), particularly during the ripening stage. As one of the causal factors of the difference in dry matter production, the rate of photosynthesis and related physiological processes were investigated in direct-down rice plants cultivated in a submerged paddy field after heading. [Note: spacing was varied so that the total number of plants per m2 was the same, ca. 152 in all trials]

• The rate of photosynthesis was similar at full heading for plants from patterns I and III. When the rate of photosynthesis decreased during the period of ripening, plants from pattern I maintained higher rates of leaf photosynthesis than plants from pattern III. This was primarily related to the maintenance of higher leaf photosynthetic activity in pattern I plants.

• Plants from pattern I maintained higher leaf levels of Rubisco and N during the ripening stage than plants from pattern III. Close linear relationships were observed between the levels of Rubisco and rate of photosynthesis as well as between the levels of N and Rubisco.

• N accumulation in aboveground parts and partitioning of N to leaves maintained significantly higher levels during the ripening stage in plants from pattern I than plants from pattern III. This results in the higher leaf levels of N in pattern I plants during the ripening stage.

• Plants from pattern I had significantly greater number of crown roots and root length densities, and maintained relatively higher cytokinin [phytohormone] fluxes from roots to shoot during the ripening stage than plants from pattern III. The free cytokinin, trans-zeatin, was responsible for the larger total flux for cytokinins in pattern I plants. These root characteristics may also contribute to the maintenance of the higher levels of Rubisco and N in leave in plants from pattern I.

Note that these evaluations were done with rice plants grown under submerged conditions. One might expect that with aerobic soil conditions, the responses of pattern-I rice plants would be even more pronounced. But this cannot be known until the same trials and measurements are done with SRI methods. In any case, this research indicates that other things being equal, single seedlings will give more yield per unit area than seedlings grown close together in clumps, a key recommendation of SRI.

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