Improving water use efficiency in rice irrigation through wet-seeding
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Since the early-1960's, when modern rice production technologies became available, more than 90% of the total irrigation water developed in south and southeast Asia is used for rice culture. But currently rice culture is highly inefficient in water use. As fresh water availability for agriculuture is becoming increasingly scarce, greater efficiency of water use in rice culture is deemed essential. Past experience indicates that effective implementation of water-efficient irrigation methods in rice farms within public sector irrigation systems is restricted by the difficulty of controlling water deliveries and distribution, and establishing a water charge system based on the actual amount of water used by farmers. Clearly, a rice production method that is inherently less water-requiring, or more water-efficient, would have an advantage over the traditional method in this respect. Recent studies conducted in the Philippines indicate that wet-seeded rice culture is superior to the traditional transplanted rice culture in terms of water efficiency. Other advantages of wet-seeded rice culture include its greater drought tolerance, less labor requirement for crop establishment and weed control, and higher returns from rice farming. This paper presents a comparative study of wet-seeded and transplanted rice cultures focusing on these aspects.
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