Intercropping in rice farming under the system of rice intensification : an agroecological strategy for weed control, better yield, increased returns, and social-ecological sustainability

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Shah, Tavseef Mairaj
Tasawwar, Sumbal
Bhat, M. Anwar
Otterpohl, Ralf
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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
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Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. In South Asia, rice farming systems provide food to the majority of the population, and agriculture is a primary source of livelihood. With the demand for nutritious food increasing, introducing innovative strategies in farming systems is imperative. In this regard, intensification of rice farming is intricately linked with the challenges of water scarcity, soil degradation, and the vagaries of climate change. Agroecological farming systems like the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) have been proposed as water-saving and sustainable ways of food production. This study examines the effect of intercropping beans with rice under SRI management on the growth of weeds and on the different plant growth parameters. Intercropping led to a 65% decrease in weed infestation on average, which is important given that weed infestation is stated as a criticism of SRI in some circles and is a major factor in limiting yield in rice-producing regions. In addition to the water savings of about 40% due to the SRI methodology, the innovation led to an increase in rice yield by 33% and an increase in the net income of farmers by 57% compared to the conventional rice farming method. The results indicate that intercropping can be a positive addition to the rice farming system, hence contributing to social–ecological sustainability.
agroecology, rice, intercropping, sustainable agriculture, sustainable intensification
Agronomy 11 (5): 1010 (2021-05)