Combining sub-surface fertigation with conservation agriculture in intensively irrigated rice under rice-wheat system can be an option for sustainably improving water and nitrogen use-efficiency

Rana, B and Parihar, C M and Jat, M L and Patra, K and Nayak, H S and Reddy, K S and Sarkar, A and Anand, A and Naguib, W and Gupta, N and Sena, D R and Sidhu, H S and Singh, R and Singh, R and Abdallah, A M (2023) Combining sub-surface fertigation with conservation agriculture in intensively irrigated rice under rice-wheat system can be an option for sustainably improving water and nitrogen use-efficiency. Field Crops Research (TSI), 302. 01-13. ISSN 0378-4290

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Context: The rice-wheat cropping system in the Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) of South Asia has been shown to have higher productivity. However, this benefit is offset by the unsustainable over-drafting of groundwater resources. Given the growing scarcity of water, it is imperative to investigate alternative crop establishment and irrigation methods that do not rely on the conventional puddled transplanting method (PTR). Objective: This study aims to assess the impact of combining conservation agriculture-CA with sub-surface drip irrigation-SSD referred to as CA+, at different nitrogen (N) doses on physiological performance, crop yield, irrigation and nitrogen use-efficiency, as well as farm profitability of rice in the north-western IGP of India. Method: A two-year field experiment was conducted to assess the effects of medium-term CA and the combination of CA with SSD (CA+) at three levels of N (0%, 75%, and 100% of the recommended dose), in comparison to PTR using recommended dose of nitrogen-RDN (120 kg N ha-1). Indicators of crop growth (under CA, CA+), i.e., biomass, grain yield, water-use, water-use efficiency (WUE), nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE), and economic analysis of rice production were evaluated and compared with PTR. Result: The results revealed that the PTR plots produced 15% and 11% higher grain yield than CA and CA+ systems, respectively, even at 100%RDN, due to a significantly higher number of fertile tillers. However, the application of 100%RDN and irrigation through SSD resulted in a significant increase in nitrogen uptake (4.5%) and remobilization (7.5%) into the grain compared to PTR. The CA+ plots demonstrated a reduction in irrigation water usage by 1.5 and 2 times compared to the CA and PTR systems, leading to a respective increase in WUE by 1.6% and 1.8%. PTR exhibited highest net returns, while the CA+ treatment– SSD-N100 achieved the highest benefit-cost ratio. Conclusion: The combination of CA with SSD at 100%RDN offers significant benefits, including notable water saving, improved WUE, NUE and crop yield. This integrated approach presents a promising solution to address the pressing issues of food security and sustainability arising from water scarcity and groundwater depletion in South Asia. Future implication: There is a need to increase awareness among farmers about the benefits of CA coupled with SSD i.e., CA+ , for water-intensive rice-based systems. Additionally, further research should focus on identifying ideal rice cultivars suitable for CA+ systems and determining the optimal specifications for drip lines and emitter discharge rates for diverse water-scarce agro-ecological conditions.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Global Research Program - Resilient Farm and Food Systems
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sub-surface drip irrigation, Zero-till direct-seeded rice, Water use efficiency, Nitrogen use efficiency, N-doses, Crop yield, Economics
Subjects: Others > Crop Yield
Others > Water Conservation
Depositing User: Mr Nagaraju T
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2023 09:48
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 09:48
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: The first author sincerely acknowledges the support of the Indian Council Agricultural Research -IARI, for providing the scholarship and other facilities. The research was undertaken at CIMMYT-BISA Farm, Ludhiana, India, and was funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-W3 grant to CIMMYT for Conservation Agriculture and CGIAR Research Programs on Wheat Agri-Food Systems through CIMMYT Academy. We also acknowledge all the support received from the Divisions of Agronomy, Plant Physiology, Agricultural Physics, and SSAC of ICAR-IARI, New Delhi, and ICAR-IIMR. We also like to thank Dr. V.K. Singh former head, ICAR-IARI, Dr. P. Krishnan, Head, ICAR-IARI, Dr. Renu Pandey, Pr. Scientist, ICAR-IARI, and Dr. V.K. Sharma, Pr. Scientist, ICAR-IARI, Dr. S.L. Jat, Scientist, ICAR-IIMR, Dr. B.N. Mandal, Sr. Scientist, ICAR-IASRI, Dr. A. Sarangi, Pr. Scientist, ICAR-IARI, WTC, and Dr. Yadvinder-Singh, Mr. L.K. Singh, Dr. K.M. Choudhary, Mr. Sanjeev, Mr. Kashmiri of CIMMYT-BISA, and Mr. Sanjeev Kumar of ICAR-IIMR for assistance during the study.
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