System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

A new method of growing rice is now spreading in many rice-producing countries. It is called the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). The method was initially developed in Madagascar by a Jesuit agriculturist, Fr. Henri de Laulanie and continues to be refined by thousands of researchers and farmers all over the world.

In the Philippines, the promotion of SRI is being undertaken by SRI-Pilipinas, a consorium of NGOs which I coordinate. We have already conducted one-day trainings in at least 47 provinces in the Philippines. Now, we want to do trainings in every rice-producing municipality in the country. We need at least P25,000 (around $500) per municipality, and hope to gather donations from Filipinos abroad who may want to sponsor a training in their municipality. If you are interested in donating, please contact me privately (rverzola@gn.apc.org).

SRI involves a few simple but major changes in farmers’ methods. Not expensive, but challenging because it involves a major change in mindset.

  • Farmers are used to transplanting 3-week old rice seedlings or older. Under SRI, 8- to 12-day old seedlings are transplanted.
  • Farmers are used to flooding their fields. Under SRI, anything longer than a 3-day flooding is avoided. Wetting the soil, or intermittent flooding and drying, is instead encouraged.
  • Farmers are used to planting distances of 15 cm or closer. Under SRI, planting distances start at 25 cm and may even be greater.
  • Farmers are used to planting a bunch of seedlings per hill. Under SRI, one seedling per hill is encouraged. At most two is allowed.
  • Farmers are used to chemical fertilizers. Under SRI, the use of organic matter is encouraged.
  • Farmers are used to herbicides. Under SRI, a mechanical weeder is used instead, not only to control weeds but also to aerate the soil.

These simple changes in practices result in a very different kind (“phenotype” is the technical term) of rice plant. The plants produce much more tillers — 20 upwards, instead of the usual 5-10 tillers per plant. The tillers produce the grain, and the more tillers, the more grain, the greater the harvest. The loss of yield from wider spacing is more than offset by the bigger gain in yield from the greater number of tillers and the greater number of grains per tiller.

For details, please download this file: System of Rice Intensification: Practices and Results in the Philippines.

The benefits are many. The increase in yield, coupled with reduced cost, means greater income for the farmer. The health benefits should not be underestimated. Agricultural chemicals poison the soil, the food that comes from it, the drinking water and the surrounding fields. The environmental benefits are also considerable. Poisons are minimized and can be avoided altogether, giving common farm organisms (like mudfish, snails, crabs, frogs, etc.) a chance to return to the farm. Less flooding means less anaerobic decomposition of organic matter, which means less methane generation and therefore less greenhouse gases. Methane is actually worse than carbon dioxide in its greenhouse effect.

A mindset change among our farmers is bound to generate many positive consequences down the road. To accomplish this, we need a lot of support.

19 Comments

  1. ness
    Posted April 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    sir im interested with SRI, may i know if the recent certified seeds in the market can be used for this method?

    thanks;
    ness

  2. Roberto Verzola
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    SRI does not confine you to specific varieties. It works with most varieties, though some varieties may tend to respond better than others. We tell farmers to use their favorite varieties. Where is your farm?

    Greetings,

    Obet

  3. Ben
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Sir where can we find design for mechanical weeder?

  4. Posted July 15, 2009 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    The sri method is recently applyed in Iraq as a expirementl feilds (1)hictar to each .. I need imags & video to view new methods to this system ..

    THANK & GREETINGS

  5. Romeo
    Posted August 25, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    What is the minimum quantity of organic fertilizer/compost that need to be applied using the SRI method?

  6. Roberto Verzola
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    It is hard to give a definite answer to this question. A lot depends on the soil type as well as its history of fertilization. and other factors.

    But as a rough guide, our suggestion to farmers is to try to put back as much organic matter in the soil as has been taken away from the soil. Thus, a 5-ton harvest that will not be returned to the soil (assuming all other agricultural wastes are returned) means that ideally up to roughly 5 tons of organic material should be returned to the soil. If it is a 5-ton rice harvest and the rice husks are themselves returned to the soil, then roughly 2.5 tons of organic matter should be added to the soil to replace that which has been taken away. Clearly, a farm that sells most of its harvest for cash (instead of being consumed by the family) needs to return more organic matter to the soil.

    Again, it is hard to quantify a minimum. I would suggest that a farmer be observant and if his/her crop seems anemic, it might be an indication that the soil needs more organic matter.

    Also, by encouraging the growth of nitrogen-fixing and other beneficial bacteria, some of the replacement organic matter may in fact come from the air itself, or from the activity of bacteria and other microorganisms in the soil.

  7. Ellen May Quintos
    Posted January 15, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Hi there!
    just wanna inquire regarding SRI technology..Is it SRI applicable in any kind of variety being used? Since, my thesis is on the subject of SRI.

  8. tommyma;latamban
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    just started sri and nfts method, with an area of 1,620 sq mtrs using inbred variety (red aromatic) harvested 47 sacks of palay. The farmer practices of an area of 1,920 sq mtrs planted with an inbred rice (158)got only 27 sacks

  9. Tito Canare
    Posted December 23, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Obet.
    Two of my thesis advisees planted their SRI experiments today. Two more will plant next week. Two others were not able to prepare their thesis outlines on time.
    Almost 5 years after the first 3 SRI experiments with my students, I finally am able to do these follow-ups. They are verification trials of SRI principles that I was planning to do for so long. They should have been done years ago but I was not assigned thesis advisees for years. However, they are still new in CLSU because nobody has done SRI here aside from those my students did.
    One is on number of rotary weedings. The other will compare compost and chicken manure as sources of nutrients. The third is on water management, and the fourth is on variety x distance of planting.

  10. Roberto Verzola
    Posted December 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jun,

    Can you please email me your cellphone number? I want to follow the progress of your students’ research. I also need your help regarding our ongoing training program. Regards,

    Obet
    rverzola@gn.apc.org

  11. Cesar Noriega
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi Obet,

    I very interested in SRI. Can you please give me a schedule where I can attend a seminar and make an actual visit to a farm applying SRI. I would also want to get hold of a guide or manual on how to apply SRI.

    Thank you.

  12. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Hi Cesar,

    Where are you located? I will try to refer you to our nearest trainer. Pls send me your postal mailing address so I can send you our free SRI primer.

    Greetings,

    Obet

  13. Cesar Noriega
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the late reply. My home address is at No. 23 Carrot Street, Ugong, Pasig city. I will be expecting your SRI Primer. I hope to plant this coming season using the SRI method in Pangasinan.

  14. mike
    Posted June 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    hi folks, im practicing S R I technology since 2009 indeed the system works. if you are willing to try the system i can be of help. just call or text 09062343637(globe) 09228643859(SUN)Im from Alicia, isabela.

  15. Dr Ch Abrar Majid
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I am really impressed by this research but am in loss to understand the preparation of SRI plants those are tranplanted withen 8-12 days. I mean whether these are growed in soil of field or in any specific boxes. Please guide me the procedure of SRI plants prrparation

  16. Roberto Verzola
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    The seedlings for the SRI method can be sown 1kg/sqm on the rice fields, on specially-prepared seedbeds. Then after 8-12 days they are transplanted. Or they can be grown on seedboxes of various kinds, to be transported to the fields on transplanting day. Please google “World Bank Institute SRI video”, and download the video for details. You might also try to get the March 2011 issue (Vol. 9 No. 1) of the Paddy and Water Environment, the journal of the International Society of Paddy and Water Environment Engineering, which is a special issue on SRI. This is the most complete (and recent too) collection so far of scientific pieces on the System of Rice Intensification.

    Roberto Verzola

  17. Roberto Verzola
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Cesar, please contact me at 0939-117-8999 (which is our SRI Hotline).

    Roberto Verzola
    Coordinator, SRI Pilipinas

  18. jose gozum
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    i just sent you an email inquiring about SRI. by the way, do you know if there is anyone here in Masbate practicing SRI? would love to hear from you. thank you so much.

  19. Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Roberto

    Am very interesting with SRI , where can I get study touring in East African or any nearlest area were SRI applied,
    Thanks

    Emmanuel

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