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Gathorne-Hardy A.,University of Oxford | Reddy D.N.,National Institute for Rural Development | Venkatanarayana M.,National Institute for Rural Development | Harriss-White B.,University of Oxford
Agricultural Systems

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is claimed to make rice more sustainable by increasing yields while reducing water demand. However, there remains a shortage of high quality data to test these assertions, and a major research gap exists concerning the wider social and economic implications of SRI techniques.Using primary data we developed a model to simultaneously analyse social, economic and environmental sustainability (greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ground water abstracted, energy use, costs, profit, gender, employment quality and employment quantity) to compare SRI to conventional flooded-rice production systems (control). Data was based on farmer-recall questionnaires in Andhra Pradesh, India. Analysis was per hectare and per kg of paddy.SRI offered substantial environmental and economic benefits: >60% yield gain; GHG emissions, ground-water, fossil energy down by 40%, 60%, and 74% kg-1 respectively. SRI costs reduced significantly ha-1, and returns after costs increased by over 400%ha-1.However, the socio-economic benefits accrued to the farmer at the expense of landless labourers. Employed labour demand (hha-1) reduced to 45% of control, with the greatest decline in female employment - rural India's most vulnerable sector. SRI reduced casual labour remuneration per hectare by 50%. Doubling rates of pay maintain total casual-labour remuneration, and only reduces SRI farm returns by 10%. Yet with no policy support it is unlikely that the private economic benefits of SRI will be shared to landless labourers.Internalising environmental externalities (electricity and GHG) impacted control farms more than SRI farms, including producing negative economic returns when electricity was charged at INR4.7unit-1 for control farms. Increasing the farm gate price for paddy by 10% increased control farm returns by 38%, yet even with this substantial increase control farm returns were only a third of SRI returns without a price increase.Identifying and understanding the trade-offs associated with SRI is essential for policy management - while it is not possible to eliminate all trade-offs, identifying them allows for the mitigation of losers. © 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V. Source

Gathorne-Hardy A.,University of Oxford | Reddy D.N.,National Institute for Rural Development | Venkatanarayana M.,National Institute for Rural Development | Harriss-White B.,University of Oxford
Taiwan Water Conservancy

Rice feeds more people than any other crop, but each kilogram of rice is responsible for substantially more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than other key staple foods. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) has recently received considerable attention for its ability to increase yields while using less water. Yet so far there has been little research into the GHG emissions associated with SRI production systems, and how they compare to those from conventional flooded-rice production techniques. A streamlined Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology was used to compare the GHG emissions and groundwater use from SRI and from conventional rice production. Input data were derived from farmer questionnaires in SE India and appropriate secondary data sources. The results showed that SRI methods substantially raised farmers' yields, from 4.8 tons to 7.6 ton per hectare, a 58% increase, while reducing water applications. At the same time it was seen that SRI management offered opportunities for significant GHG reductions, both per hectare and per kilogram of rice produced. These savings principally arise from reduced methane emissions and reduced embodied emissions in the electricity used to pump water for irrigation. SRI nitrous oxide emissions were somewhat higher than on control farms, but the difference was significant only per hectare, not per kg of rice. The net effects of SRI practice on reducing global warming potential were positive in that the small increases in N2O did not offset the larger diminishment of CH4. Source

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