System of Rice Intensification [Nepal]

Dhan uttapadan bridi garne tarika - Nepali

technologies_1494 - Nepal

Completeness: 76%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
ICIMOD International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) - Nepal

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

A method for increasing the productivity of rice by changing the management of plants, soil, water, and nutrients.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) was developed in Madagascar by Henri de Laulanie, in the 1980s. He worked with Malagasy farmers and colleagues to improve the possibilities of rice production. The practice contributes to both healthier soil and healthier plants, supported by greater root growth and the nurturing of soil microbial abundance and diversity. It is based on a number of well-founded agro-ecological principles. SRI concepts and practices have also been successfully adapted to upland rice.
SRI involves transplanting very young rice seedlings (usually 8-12 days old with just two small leaves) carefully and quickly so as to cause minimum disturbance to the roots. The seedlings are planted individually, in contrast to the traditional method where clumps of 3-4 are planted together, minimising root competition between the seedlings. The seedlings are kept widely spaced to allow better root and canopy growth, in a square grid pattern at a spacing of at least 25 x 25 cm. Planting can be done even wider at 30 x 30 or 40 x 40 cm and even up to 50 x 50 cm in the best quality soils.
The soil is kept moist but well drained and aerated to support increased biological activity. A small quantity of water is applied during the vegetative growth period following which a thin layer of water is maintained on the fields only during the flowering and grain-filling stages. Better quality compost, such as well decomposed farmyard manure, can be applied to achieve additional yield increases. Since weed growth will be more abundant and will be a problem in fields that are not kept flooded (and because of the wider spacing), weeding needs to be done at least once or twice in the first 10-12 days and a total of three or four times altogether before the canopy closes.
SRI does not require additional inputs like new seeds, chemical fertiliser or pesticides, but it does require the skilful management of the factors in production and, at least initially, 25-50% more labour inputs, particularly for the transplanting and weeding. As farmers become more skilled and confident in SRI, the amount of labour needed decreases and can eventually become the same or even less than with conventional methods.
SRI is being tried out by farmers in many areas of Nepal’s middle mountains including in the Jhikhu Khola watershed. This area has an altitude of 800-2200 masl, and receives about 1200 mm annual rainfall, about 70-80% in the monsoon months (June to September).

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Further specification of location:

Kavre palanchowk/Jhikhu Khola watershed

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

This was the first year of on farm research cum demonstration on the farmers field after the trial in the research station. Six farmers tested SRI in 2003. It was tested in Panchkhal, Hokse, Bhimsensthan, Baluwa, and Patalekhet VDCs.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):


3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - maize
  • vegetables - other
  • rice, wheat
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 3

Longest growing period in days: 150; Longest growing period from month to month: Jun - Oct; Second longest growing period in days: 120; Second longest growing period from month to month: Nov - Feb


major cash crop: Vegetables
major food crop: Rice
other: Maize, wheat

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Limited production due to soil fertility decline, increased amount of agrochemical inputs and lack of sufficient irrigation water and irrigation infrastructures.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Decreased production, lack of irrigation facilities and increased amount of chemical fertilizers.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • mixed rainfed-irrigated

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • post-harvest measures

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

management measures

management measures

  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)

Main causes of degradation: urbanisation and infrastructure development (poor irrigation infrastructures), other natural causes (avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mud flows, highly susceptible natural resources, extreme topography, etc.) specify (uneven distribution of precipitation throughout the year), land tenure (population growth, separating famility members from a household.), labour availability (out migration for a off-farm employment)

Secondary causes of degradation: other human induced causes (specify) (Weak institutional collaboration), poverty / wealth (lack of government subsidy on agricultural sector), education, access to knowledge and support services (lack of sufficient discussion with concerned technicians and experienced farmers.)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

In the SRI method young seedlings (8-12 days old) are planted singly at a wide spacing of 25 x 25 cm or more

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate

Technical knowledge required for land users: low

Main technical functions: improved plant management, improved soil management, improved water management

Secondary technical functions: increase in organic matter, increase in soil fertility

Change of land use practices / intensity level: Planting method, irrigation method and soil fertility management is carriedout differently compare to traditional method.


Madhav Dhakal , A. K. Thaku

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

1 ha

Specify currency used for cost calculations:
  • USD
Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment


Duration of establishment phase: 0 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Application of fertilizer
2. Application of pesticides ( if required)
3. Transplantation monsoon, 8 to 12 days after seed sowing /
4. Irrigation of the mainfield ( to keep fields alternately dry and moist) vegetative period / weekly after transplantation;
5. Weeding vegetative period / 3-4 times; first within 10 day
6. Harvesting October/November /
7. Nursery bed preparation, seed treatment and sowing Beginning of monsoon /
8. Main field preparation ( ploughing and leveling) Beginning of monsoon /

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Maintaining field Persons/day 353.0 2.1 741.3 100.0
Equipment Machin use ha 1.0 136.0 136.0 100.0
Plant material Seeds ha 1.0 4.0 4.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Fertilizer ha 1.0 94.0 94.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides Biocoides ha 1.0 56.0 56.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 1031.3
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 1031.3

labour: person -day, cost of agrochemicals
All costs were estimated in 2006.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Due to increased off-farm employment trend , there is lack of manpower for field operation, which increases the labour cost .

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

Thermal climate class: subtropics

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Landforms: Also hill slopes

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
  • fine/ heavy (clay)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil depth on average: Variable

Soil fertility is very low - low

Soil drainage / infiltration is medium - poor

Soil water storage capacity is medium

5.4 Water availability and quality

Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Availability of surface water: Maximum during rainy season (June to september), starts decresing from October reaching minimum in April/May

Water quality (untreated): Poor more in rainy season (June- September), less in April/May, but otherwise good drinking water

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • animal traction
  • women
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users

Population density: 200-500 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 2% - 3%

15% of the land users are rich and own 35% of the land.
35% of the land users are average wealthy and own 40% of the land.
50% of the land users are poor and own 25% of the land.

Off-farm income specification: In most farm households, off-farm income plays at least a minor and increasingly a major role. Occasional opportunities for off-farm income present themselves in the form of daily

Level of mechanization: Manual labour for planting, irrigation, harvesting, animals are used for field preparation and machines as well but in the valley bottom.

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

10 - 57 percent grain yield increased

fodder production

Comments/ specify:

3 - 40 percent above ground bio -mass increased

fodder quality

Comments/ specify:

3 - 40 percent above ground bio -mass increased

Income and costs

farm income

Comments/ specify:

due to increased grain and biomass; seed , fertilizer, and labour saving,


Comments/ specify:

only the first weeding is labour intensive

Socio-cultural impacts

community institutions

Comments/ specify:

planning, discussing in a group and implementing the method systematically

SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Comments/ specify:

use of organic fertilizer, reduced chemical fertilizer application, different method of irrigation management adopted

livelihood and human well-being

Comments/ specify:

due to increased yield

Ecological impacts

Other ecological impacts

soil fertility

Comments/ specify:

use of organic fertilizer, reduced chemical fertilizer application

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability

Comments/ specify:

more irrigation water available for downstream, because SRI uses less water than traditional method

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm not well
local windstorm not well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought not well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not well

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period not well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:



If rice fields need to be established, the short-term establishment costs and the benefits realised are about the same. However, most farmers already had rice fields and therefore the benefits are more than the costs.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • > 50%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

35 households in an area of 10 ha

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

35 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: survey results

There is a moderate trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: Farmers are adopting the SRI method carefully and slowly by at first only putting small areas under SRI and then
slowly increasing the area planted.

SRI is an innovation rather than a technology. It is gaining popularity all over the world. Increased yields of 50-100% have been reported in most places where it has been tried. The practice is gaining popularity in Nepal especially in the eastern Terai plains.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Compared to the traditional method, SRI consumed 50 to 75% less water, 75% less seed, 50% less labour for transplanting, 50-60% less labour for irrigation, and less pesticide; the cost of fertiliser and harvesting remained the same, thus the overall cost of production is the same or a little less

How can they be sustained / enhanced? More experience sharing would help expand the area under SRI
40-50% more grain production and 20-25% increase in above ground biomass production compared to traditional method

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Experience sharing would help expand the area under SRI
Lodging is observed less due to longer root in case of SRI
Conflict over water during irrigation time reduced
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
SRI method saved time required for irrigation, reduced disease and pest attacks, and reduced lodging problem.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? More research is required to calculate exact amount of water saving.
SRI method improved soil environment and reduced rates of riser collapse

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Impact of long-term soil nutrient balance has yet to be studied
SRI method saved seed
Cost of production was same or little less compared to traditional method.
Compared to traditional method, grain yield nearly doubled in SRI without additional external inputs.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Emphasis should be given on understanding the process involved in SRI , not just obtain information about the net benefits.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Compared to traditional method, cost for weeding is 50-60%.higher and the first weeding is difficult. Overall cost remains the same. A simple low cost mechanical weeder can lower the cost of weeding in the long run..
Compared to traditional method, transplanting young seedling , maintaining the spacing and handling young seedling is difficult. Confidence building is essential, this can be achieved by practicing it 2-3 times.
Transporting delicate seedlings from the nursery beds to the field and transplanting it requires proper skill. More practice is required.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Water control is most difficult part of this method; to maintain alternate dry and moist field conditions, water needs to be available at 5 - 6 day intervals. There needs to be good irrigation infrastructure or a perennial source of water to irrigate rice fi elds regularly
Transplanting 8-12 day old seedlings, especially under rainfed conditions, is quite diffi cult. Seedlings become old and unfi t for transplanting when there is no rain during the transplanting time Establish two to three
nursery beds at intervals of one week
This method is only suitable for smallholder farmers, in most countries it is not adopted on a large scale. Involvement of national departments and local institutions and wider sharing of its proven benefi ts is vital to upscale the innovation.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

IRRI International Rice Research Institute,

Title, author, year, ISBN:

ICIMOD (2007) ‘Good Practices in Watershed Management, Lessons Learned in the Mid Hills of Nepal. Kathmandu: ICIMOD

Available from where? Costs?


Title, author, year, ISBN:

Uphoff, N. (2004) ‘System of Rice Intensification Responds to 21st Century Needs’. In Rice Today, 3 (3):42

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