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Yield, water productivity and nutrient balances under the system of rice intensification and recommended management practices in the Sahel

Yield, water productivity and nutrient balances under the system of rice intensification and recommended management practices in the Sahel

Krupnik, Timothy J., Shennan, Carol and Rodenburg, Jonne ORCID: 0000-0001-9059-9253 (2012) Yield, water productivity and nutrient balances under the system of rice intensification and recommended management practices in the Sahel. Field Crops Research, 130. pp. 155-167. ISSN 0378-4290 (Print), 1872-6852 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2012.02.003)

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Abstract

Consumer demand for rice in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is increasing faster than for any other cereal. Governments in the Sahel are responding by promoting double-cropping of irrigated rice in the region's river basins, although rising fertilizer and water costs cast doubt on the future profitability of such systems. Despite controversy, the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is widely promoted as a potential solution to this dilemma. SRI includes transplanting young, single seedlings at wide spacing, compost application, mechanical weed control, and alternate wetting and drying irrigation. However, independent evaluation of the system in comparison to an appropriate control is lacking in SSA, and the Sahel in particular. Responding to this need, we compared SRI to flooded rice production following regionally Recommended Management Practices (RMP), in a five-season experiment in the Senegal River Valley. Our objectives were to evaluate yield, water productivity, fertilizer nitrogen recovery efficiency, partial macronutrient balances and soil quality under both management systems. But because compost production in the Sahel is constrained by low labor and biomass availability, we replaced these materials with waste rice straw, and compared the impact of sole mineral fertilizer application to rice straw residue incorporation with fertilizer addition, under both SRI and RMP. In seasons 1–3, fertilizer alone significantly increased yield, with no differences found between management systems. In season 4, beneficial effects of straw incorporation and fertilizer addition were observed, as significant additive increases in yield, straw and fertilizer nitrogen recovery were found for each management system. In season 5, additive benefits were found only for SRI, although SRI yields never exceeded any fertility management treatment under RMP. Across seasons, water savings from 16% to 48% were obtained with SRI, resulting in significant (11%–45%) increases in water productivity. Combined straw incorporation and fertilizer application helped stabilize partial nitrogen and potassium balances across management systems. Compared to controls, straw incorporation also increased total soil nitrogen and carbon. In contrast to the literature on SRI in the Sahel, our findings indicate that when nutrient additions are held constant, significant yield increases should not be expected over conventionally recommended rice crop management systems. However, should farmers choose to experiment with SRI to reduce water use, they would be most likely to benefit from combining rice straw incorporation with mineral fertilizer, although several seasons may be required for additive yield effects to occur.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alternate wetting and drying (AWD), Residue management, Nitrogen use efficiency, SRI, Sub-Saharan Africa
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Ecosystem Services Research Group
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2019 15:36
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/19055

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