Modified rice cultivation in Tamil Nadu, India: Yield gains and farmers' (lack of) acceptance

K. Senthilkumar, P.S. Bindraban, T.M. Thiyagarajan, N. de Ridder, K.E. Giller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The looming water crisis and water-intensive nature of rice cultivation are driving the search for alternative management methods to increase water productivity in rice cultivation. Experiments were conducted under on-station and on-farm conditions to compare rice production using modified methods of irrigation, planting, weeding and nutrient management with conventional methods of cultivation. Farm surveys were used to evaluate adoption of modified rice cultivation method. On-station experiments showed that, a combination of water-saving irrigation, young seedling or direct seeding, mechanical weeding and green manure application increased the rice water productivity though the largest yields were obtained for a combination of conventional irrigation, young seedling or direct seeding, mechanical weeding and green manure application. On-farm experiments demonstrated a yield advantage of 1.5 t ha-1 for the modified method over conventional method. We found, however, that yield advantages were not the sole factor driving adoption. Associated changes required in management, including the increased labour demand for modified planting, unwillingness of agricultural labourers to change practices, difficulties with modified nursery preparation and the need to replace cheaper women's labour for hand weeding with more costly men's labour for mechanical weeding, all reduced the chance of adopting the modified rice cultivation method. Risks associated with water-saving irrigation, such as uncertainty about the timing and amount of water release for irrigation affect adoption adversely as well. There was no incentive for farmers to adopt water-saving irrigation as water from reservoirs and electricity for pumping well-water are both free of charge. To date farmers continue to experiment with the modified cultivation method on a small part of their farms, but are unlikely to adopt the modified method on a large-scale unless policies governing water management are changed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-94
Number of pages13
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume98
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • intensification sri
  • water productivity
  • agricultural-research
  • irrigated rice
  • lowland rice
  • less water
  • system
  • management
  • madagascar
  • increase

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Modified rice cultivation in Tamil Nadu, India: Yield gains and farmers' (lack of) acceptance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this