How extensive are yield declines in long-term rice-wheat experiments in Asia? uri icon

abstract

  • The rice-wheat cropping system, occupying 24 million hectares of the productive area in South Asia and China, is important for food security. Monitoring long-term changes in crop yields and identifying the factors associated with such changes are essential to maintain and/or improve crop productivity. Long-term experiments (LTE) provide these opportunities. We analyzed 33 rice-wheat LTE in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) of South Asia, non-IGP in India, and China to investigate the extent of yield stagnation or decline and identify possible causes of yield decline. In treatments where recommended rates of N, P and K were applied, yields of rice and wheat stagnated in 72 and 85% of the LTE, respectively, while 22 and 6% of the LTE showed a significant (P < 0.05) declining trend for rice and wheat yields, respectively. In the rice-wheat system, particularly in the IGP, rice yields are declining more rapidly than wheat. The causes of yield decline are mostly location-specific but depletion of soil K seems to be a general cause. In over 90% of the LTE, the fertilizer K rates used were not sufficient to sustain a neutral K input-output balance. Depletion of soil C, N and Zn and reduced availability of P, delays in planting, decreases in solar radiation and increases in minimum temperatures are the other potential causes of yield decline. A more efficient, integrated strategy with detailed data collection is required to identify the specific causes of yield decline. Constant monitoring of LTEs and analysis of the data using improved statistical and simulation tools should be done to unravel the cause-effect relationships of productivity and sustainability of rice-wheat systems. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2003
  • 2003
  • 2003