The application of best management practices increases the profitability and sustainability of rice farming in the central plains of Thailand uri icon

abstract

  • There is a need to increase the resource use efficiency and sustainability of rice production in the intensive lowland irrigated rice growing areas of Thailand where farmers face challenges such as the overuse of inputs that cause negative environmental effects, rising input and labor costs, declining rice farm gate prices, and water scarcity. Since 2012, a set of integrated best management practices based on Cost Reduction Operating Principles (CROP) has been promoted to rice farmers by the Thailand Rice Department. Through replicated farmer participatory field trials, we evaluated the performance over three seasons of three integrated best management packages that included CROP recommendations, CROP+ alternate wetting and drying (AWD), and CROP+ drum seeder (DS) technology and compared these with standard farmer's practice (FP). We also provide an economic and productivity assessment of the large-scale (160-800 ha) application of CROP practices across eight sites in the Chao Phraya river basin. In the field trials, farmers that applied CROP practices reduced fertilizer inputs by a mean of 50-64% per season with no yield penalty and were able to increase their net income versus FP by a mean of 26% across all three seasons. The CROP+ DS treatments also reduced seed rates by 60-67% and consistently showed the largest benefits over FP, with increases in mean net income per season in the range of 29-46%. Due to water shortages in the dry season, all treatments followed forced-AWD. However, even with limited water supply, high yields were still attained across all plots, giving farmers the assurance that yields can be maintained with AWD practices. Results from the large-scale application of CROP practices showed farmer groups reduced costs by 6-36% ((x) over bar =17%) and increased net income by 21-131% ((x) over bar = 79%) when compared with the same season in the previous year. The results of these studies indicate that through an increase in income and a decrease in inputs that cause negative environmental impacts, the adoption of improved agronomic practices can enhance the sustainability of intensive rice production. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018
  • 2017