With climate change resulting in erratic monsoon leading to abnormal distribution of rainfall worldwide, the farming communities are now forced to use techniques that help them cope with the new conditions.
One such farming technique is the system of crop intensification (SCI), which is largely practiced in rice cultivation and involves effective management of farm resources such as land, seeds, water and labour, argues Dr M Mahadevappa, former vice-chancellor of University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad.
In his research paper presented at the ‘National Seed Seminar-2013’ here, Mahadevappa says that a comparative study in five major rice growing states — Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Tripura — indicates that the average grain yield was 2,466 kg per acre from system of rice intensification (SRI) as against 1,724 kg per acre from conventional method.
The straw yield was estimated to be at 3,320 kg per acre under SRI against 2,960 kg per acre under conventional method, he said.
According to experts, the country could save around `200 crore per season just in seed production if SRI is adopted in 10 per cent of total rice cultivating areas in India, since it requires just five kg seed per hectare as against 25 kg in conventional method. According to Mahadev, in the SRI, water used for paddy cultivation can be reduced by 40 per cent by way of nurturing plant root potential and reducing plant populations, giving each plant more room to grow.
The method of cultivation, initially started in Madagascar, is now adopted in more than 40 countries.
According to his research report, under the SRI, the nursery period is just 10-12 days as against 25-30 days in conventional method and the crop matures 7-8 days earlier than normal, transplanted crop.
Mahadevappa also argues that the net income of farmers was high because of less seeds and higher yield.
However, SRI has its share of constraints too. Mahadevappa says it cannot be practiced in canal-irrigated and heavy rainfall areas lacking proper water control.