Ever thought about drip irrigation in rice?

Source: Science at the 4th International Rice Congress (IRC2014)
27th April 2014
You haven’t? Well, here’s your chance during IRC2014.
IRRI principal scientist and agronomist, Dr JK Ladha, and Jain Irrigation Systems Principal Agronomist and Senior Vice President of Projects, Dr P Soman, are jointly organizing a workshop at IRC2014 on this very topic: New Paradigms of Growing Rice to Address Emerging Shortages of Water and Labor: Assessing the Potential of Drip Irrigation. And it will be sponsored by Indian pioneer company Jain Irrigations Systems Ltd.
Drs Ladha and Soman write: Recent research has shown that the traditional practice of puddling and transplanting of rice can be avoided by growing rice without soil tillage followed by direct seeding – referred as dry direct seeding or aerobic culture. Much progress has been made in perfecting this technology and in developing a package of practices. Not only does aerobic rice culture save water and labor, it allows crop residue recycling (which is otherwise burnt), reduces much of methane emissions, lowers energy use and increases farmers’ profits.Avoiding puddling also improves soil structure which is an essential soil health requirement for subsequent aerobic crops such as wheat, maize and vegetables.
Although we have perfected aerobic rice technology, our ability to manage irrigation water is far from perfect. Precise water management is crucial not only to address the growing water scarcity but to also break the yield barrier through optimal weed control and accurate nutrient delivery to the plants.
There is increased interest to use pressurized irrigation methods to grow rice. Limited studies in the Asia have shown that drip and sprinkler systems have potential to improve on-farm irrigation efficiency up to 80% in several crops, including rice. Perhaps sub-surface drip irrigation (along with fertigation and chemigation) holds the real potential to bring next Green Revolution. Experiences from the USA, Brazil and India demonstrate the technical and economical feasibility of the sub-surface system in rice. Even though some of these studies show potential, however, much needs to be explored to understand the feasibility and economics of pressurized irrigation methods in farmers’ fields when land holdings are small. This area has a huge untapped potential that should be explored in close collaboration with various partners, especially in the private sector.
These ideas – and more – will be explored in this workshop at IRC2014, to which everyone is invited. Details of the program and speakers will be announced in due course. The workshop is currently scheduled for the afternoon of Day 2, Thursday 30 October. Mark your calendar!
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