Compatibility between Conservation Agriculture and the System of Rice Intensification
1.1. Conservation Agriculture (CA)
- Continuous minimum or no mechanical soil disturbance: implemented by the practice of no-till seeding or the broadcasting of crop seeds and the direct placing of planting material into untilled soil; no-till weeding; and minimum soil disturbance from any cultural operation, harvest operation, or farm traffic. Sowing seed or planting crops directly into untilled soil and no-till weeding reduces runoff and soil erosion; minimizes the loss of soil organic matter via oxidation; reduces disruptive mechanical cutting and the smearing of pressure faces; promotes soil microbiological processes; protects and builds the soil structure and connected pores; avoids impairing the movement of gases and water through the soil; and promotes overall soil health.
- Maintaining a permanent biomass mulch cover on the soil surface: implemented by retaining crop biomass, rootstocks, and stubbles and biomass from cover crops and other sources of biomass from ex situ sources. The use of crop residues (including stubbles) and cover crops reduces runoff and soil erosion; protects the soil surface; conserves water and nutrients; supplies organic matter and carbon to the soil system; promotes soil microbiological activity to enhance and maintain soil health, including the structure and aggregate stability (resulting from glomalin production by mycorrhiza); and contributes both to integrated weed, insect pest, and pathogen management and to integrated nutrient and water management.
- Diversification of species in the cropping system: implemented by adopting a cropping system with crops in rotations and/or sequences and/or associations involving annuals and perennial crops, including a balanced mix of legume and non-legume crops and cover crops. The use of diversified cropping systems contributes to diversity in the rooting morphology and root compositions; enhances microbiological activity; enhances crop nutrition and crop protection via the suppression of pathogens, diseases, insect pests, and weeds; and builds up soil organic matter. Crops can include annuals, short-term perennials, trees, shrubs, nitrogen-fixing legumes, and pastures, as appropriate.
1.2. System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
- Early and careful establishment of single plants to preserve and mobilize their inherent growth potential for tillering and root development. Seedlings are transplanted before they start their fourth phyllochron of growth, i.e., beyond about 15 days after sowing, so as not to lose some of their potential for growth [20,21].
- Minimize competition among plants by reducing plant density m−2 using wider spacing between plants and hills, allowing for the development of larger canopies and root systems. Spacing is to be optimized, however, not maximized. Best spacing for single-plant hills, established in a square grid pattern, is usually about 25 × 25 cm, with 16 plants per m−2.
- Maintain mostly aerobic soil conditions by balancing the availability of water and oxygen in the soil to avoid the suffocation and degeneration of rice plant roots as well as of soil organisms such as bacteria and earthworms. In irrigated rice production, this involves alternate wetting and drying (AWD) or intermittent irrigation. Weeds are generally controlled with mechanical weeders in perpendicular directions, which causes surface soil aeration. Where there is no irrigation, SRI practices can be adapted for rainfed conditions.
- Build up the soil’s fertility by (a) enhancing soil organic matter to nourish the plants and soil biota and (b) maintaining the soil in mostly aerobic condition.
2. Compatibility between CA and SRI
2.1. Avoiding Mechanical Soil Disturbance
2.2. Water Management
2.3. Permanent Soil Cover
2.4. Diversification of the Cropping System
3. Some Examples
3.5. Other Examples
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Phases of Work||Principles||Practices||CRC||SRI||CA|
|Seed selection||Utilize best available genotypes||Selecting the best seeds to start with||⬤||⬤||⬤|
|Prepare favorable soil environment for plant growth||Leveling of the field|
(a one-time operation)
|Avoid or minimize|
disturbance of the soil (CA)
no-tillage or minimum soil disruption
|Construction of permanent raised beds (a one-time operation)||🗙||P||⬤|
|Enhance soil fertility with increased organic matter|
(SRI and CA)
Permanent biomass soil cover
|Adding organic matter to the soil||⬤||⬤⬤||⬤⬤|
|Growing cover crops||🗙||P||⬤⬤|
|Vegetative mulch cover||🗙||P||⬤⬤|
|Crop establishment||Establishment of healthy plants|
(CA + SRI)
|Transplanting young seedlings carefully||🗙||⬤⬤||P|
|Minimize competition between plants|
(CA + SRI)
(at least 20 × 20 cm)
|Crop associations, e.g., intercropping, alley cropping, relay cropping, under-sowing||🗙||P||⬤|
|Crop sequences and rotations||⬤||P||⬤⬤|
|Water management||Avoid flooding (hypoxic soil conditions) and minimize water stress|
(CA + SRI)
|Maintaining mainly moist soil conditions, near field capacity||🗙||⬤⬤||⬤⬤|
|Careful water control via irrigation||⬤||⬤⬤||⬤⬤|
|Appropriate drainage systems and water capture (if rainfed)||⬤||⬤||⬤|
|Weed management with mulch, rather than with tools and/or herbicides||🗙||⬤||⬤⬤|
|Use of soil-engaging mechanical weeder||🗙||⬤⬤||🗙|
|Pest and disease management||IPM + positive effects of CA and SRI + precise use of pesticides (organic or synthetic)||P||⬤||⬤|
|Retain above-ground crop biomass on the soil and root biomass in the soil||🗙||P||⬤⬤|
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Carnevale Zampaolo, F.; Kassam, A.; Friedrich, T.; Parr, A.; Uphoff, N. Compatibility between Conservation Agriculture and the System of Rice Intensification. Agronomy 2023, 13, 2758. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112758
Carnevale Zampaolo F, Kassam A, Friedrich T, Parr A, Uphoff N. Compatibility between Conservation Agriculture and the System of Rice Intensification. Agronomy. 2023; 13(11):2758. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112758Chicago/Turabian Style
Carnevale Zampaolo, Francesco, Amir Kassam, Theodor Friedrich, Adam Parr, and Norman Uphoff. 2023. "Compatibility between Conservation Agriculture and the System of Rice Intensification" Agronomy 13, no. 11: 2758. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy13112758