Site-Specific Nutrient Management for Balanced Nutrient Application and Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Rice Fields
Rice is known to be both a contributor as well as a victim of climate change. In 2021-2022, 510.3 million metric tons of rice was consumed worldwide, and with the increasing population, the demand will be more in the near future. Scientists are working toward the integration of climate-smart technologies into rice production to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from rice fields and save it from the impacts of climate change. Chemical fertilizers used in rice fields result in emission of N2O and flooded conditions emit CH4; both the gases contribute to total agriculture GHG emissions of 13% and 10%, respectively.
In order to attain a sustainable yield from rice fields, it is recommended to apply chemical fertilizers. However, farmers tend to overuse nitrogenous fertilizers as they directly correlate the use of fertilizer with yield. Awareness on balanced use of fertilizers can help in getting the desired yield without causing significant damage to the environment.
The digital application Rice Crop Manager (RCM), developed by the IRRI, works on the principle of site-specific nutrient management and can be used to provide advisories to farmers on balanced fertilizer application. It was first developed for the farmers of the Philippines. The framework was then customized for Bangladesh, Indonesia and India. In India, it has been developed for rice growing farmers of Odisha, Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. To date, more than one million farmers have benefited through the use of RCM advisories. RCM helps farmers get the targeted yield, reduces input costs, reduces GHG emissions and contributes to integration of climate-smart agriculture practices in the rice production system. Farmers can get the advisories free of cost by using the application.
Partnership for wider reach
Farmers have reported an average of 0.5-1 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) increase in yield by following the advisories from the RCM application, following the “three Rs” of the technology: right time, right amount and right type. The application has been proven to be beneficial for farmers, and should be made available for all rice growing farmers. To achieve wider dissemination, the right partnership is required. IRRI has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, nongovernmental organizations, private partners, women groups and engaged rural youth for wider dissemination of RCM advisories in the regions where RCM has been developed.
In 2022, IRRI collaborated with Bayer Crop Sciences to scale out the benefit of RCM advisories to farmers of Odisha and Eastern Uttar Pradesh in India. FarmRise is an android application developed by Bayer that provides information on good agronomic practices for multiple crops, market prices, government schemes, etc. It is a multilingual application. The application programming interface of RCM has been integrated into the FarmRise application and the advisories for nutrient management for rice arfe being provided through RCM.
In order to scale out the digital application in rural India, partnership with multiple extension channels is required. Provision of RCM advisories on nutrient management through the FarmRise platform helps in serving a bundled package of information on seed-to-seed production systems to the farmers using a single application. Farmers are also sent reminders so as not to miss the window to fertilize the crop at the right time. A short feedback module has been added to capture the response of farmers about their experiences on using the application.
Innovative technologies can be brought at the doorstep of farmers through synergies between research institutes and various service providers, resulting in wider dissemination of the digital technologies.