System of Rice Intensification ( SRI )

ASLF Bulletin Voume I

No photo description available.

Aavash Shrestha, 4th Sem, B.Sc.Ag, AFU Rampur.


In the same year when the national average rice productivity was less than 4 tonnes per hectare ( Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development), the farmers of Morang district achieved a bumper harvest of 7 tonnes per hectare.

But the farmers of Morang district achieved this feat not by using some new, high-yielding, improved rice seed or excessive amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. On the contrary, they adopted changes in the management of soil, water, nutrients, plants, and human labor increasing the productivity from a small but well-tendered number of seeds while using less amount of seed, water & chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. In short, they adopted SRI (System of Rice Intensification).

What is SRI?

The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) was developed in Madagascar by Henri de Laulanie, in the 1980s where he worked with Malagasy farmers and colleagues to improve the possibilities of rice production. SRI is a set of agronomic principles rather than a standardized, fixed agricultural technology. These ideas and practices enable the farmer to use his available resources more effectively and get higher-yielding, more robust crops just by changing some of the cultivation practices. At present, this system is being utilized by more than 10 million smallholder farms in over 55 countries around the world.

How does SRI differ from conventional farming?

For anyone who is new to the concept of SRI, it can seem very paradoxical and counter-intuitive in comparison to the traditional method of rice cultivation. There are six key elements that make SRI different from conventional farming methods.


Application and adaptation of SRI depend upon location, climate, soil fertility, local custom, farmer comfort level but these six key aspects\prinicples remain the same.

Package of practice

  1. Land preparation
  • It is similar to the conventional method
  • Level the field to allow the water to reach all area
  • Maintaining ditches and canal to facilitate drainage
  • Draw the lines both ways at 25*25cm apart with the help of marker and transplant at intersection
  1. Nursery management
  • It is also similar to conventional method except for
    • Seed rate ( 2kg/acre)
    • Nursery area ( 1 cent/acre)
  • Nursery bed similar to the one prepared for garden crop and pre sprouted seeds should be used.
  1. Transplanting
  • 8-12 year old seedling should be transplanted
  • Careful during pulling the seedling and while tranpslanting them in field
  • Plant one seedling at each intersection or hill
  • Shallow planting (1-2 cm deep ) 
  • While planting, don’t push the seedling from above and slip the roots sideways so that root remain horizontal to the ground.
  • Allow no more than 30 minutes between uprooting and transplanting of seedlings
  1. Irrigation and water management
  • The aim is just to wet the soil, just enough to saturate the soil with moisture
  • Subsequent irrigation is only when soil develops fine cracks.
  • Regular wetting and drying of soil results in increased microbial activity in the soil and easy availability of nutrients to the plants.
  • Shift to continuous irrigation when panicle starts to appear ( 1-2 cm water maintained)
  1. Weed management
  • Absence of standing water leads to more weed growth in SRI.
  • Weed 10-12 days after transplanting
  • Repeat 2-3 times every 10-12 days.
  • Use of rotatory tools is recommended.

Benefits of SRI

  1. Higher yield and rice quality 

Wider spacing, single planting exposes the plant to more sunlight, nutrients, and water. Intermittent irrigation leads to a more effective root system and younger seedlings have more tiller potential.. ( under good management, a single sapling can produce 80 tillers). 40-50% more grain production and 20-25% increase in above-ground biomass production compared to the traditional method. (Natural Resource Management Approaches and Technologies in Nepal: Technology – SRI).

  1. Reduction in water requirement

Water requirement is reduced by 25-50% in comparison to the conventional method. Intermittent irrigation causes soil to crack and provides better aeration and nutrient mobilization. This irrigation regime makes the plant more resistant to lodging, waterlogging, and drought.

  1. Reduction in cost

Compared to the traditional method, SRI consumes 25-50% less water

75% less seed, 50% less labor for transplanting, 50-60% less labor for 

irrigation, and less pesticide; the cost of fertilizer and harvesting remained. 

the same.  (Natural Resource Management Approaches and Technologies in Nepal: Technology – SRI).

CostTraditional method SRI
The production cost of 1 kg of rice Rs. 7-10 Rs. 1.91 -2.74
Production cost per hectareRs. 24900Rs. 23200
Total income per hectareRs. 32000Rs. 62700
ProfitRs. 7000Rs. 39500

                                                                                           ( source: Kathmandu Post)

4. Environmentally friendly.

Increased soil fertility due to more use of organic fertilizer and less use of chemical ones. Also, it decreases methane gas emission as well.

Constraints in SRI

  1. Pyschological

The farmers are very reluctant to adopt SRI as it seems very paradoxical and counter-intuitive. 

  1. Water management

Rajendra Upreti, spokesperson for the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative of Province 1 who piloted SRI in Bahuni of Morang told in an interview “Many farmers called me crazy. But they were surprised when they saw the yield,”

SRI relies on good on-farm water management. Thus, there should be the provision of infrastructure for proper drainage, controlled water intake, and reliable source of water. Also, the farmers should be knowledgeable as to when irrigation is needed or not.

  1. Labor-intensive

While it reduces the cost associated with other inputs, the weeding operation under SRI is quite labor-intensive. The cost of weeding can be 50-60% higher. 

SRI has a huge potential in our country especially in the hills and other lands that don’t hold water for too long. Most of our farmers are smallholders and don’t have the capital and/or the opportunity to buy expensive seeds and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Using SRI, they can obtain a high yield while using fewer seeds and chemical fertilizers. 

According to Rajendra Upreti, spokesperson for the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative of Province 1, we can increase our national food security and rice productivity if SRI was made mandatory for all the farmers in lowland and hills like in Indonesia. For that, further research, infrastructure development, and extension services are required.

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