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CABI Book Chapter

Water productivity in agriculture: limits and opportunities for improvement.

Book cover for Water productivity in agriculture: limits and opportunities for improvement.


This book presents a state of the art review of the limits and opportunities for improving water productivity in crop production, focusing on both irrigated and rain-fed agriculture. It provides concepts, methodologies, constraints and examples drawn from a wealth of experience from developing and developed countries. It demonstrates how efficiency of water use can be enhanced to maximize yields. ...


Chapter 4 (Page no: 53)

Rice production in water-scarce environments.

Rice production in Asia needs to increase to feed a growing population. Though a complete assessment of the level of water scarcity in Asian rice production is still lacking, there are signs that declining quality of water and declining availability of water resources are threatening the sustainability of the irrigated rice-based production system. Drought is one of the main constraints for high yield in rain-fed rice. Exploring ways to produce more rice with less water is essential for food security and sustaining environmental health in Asia. This chapter reviews the International Rice Research Institute's integrated approach, using genetics, breeding and integrated resource management to increase rice yield and to reduce water demand for rice production. Water-saving irrigation, such as saturated-soil culture and alternate wetting and drying, can drastically cut down the unproductive water outflows and increase water productivity. However, these technologies mostly lead to some yield decline in the current lowland rice varieties. Other new approaches are being researched to increase water productivity without sacrifice in yield. These include the incorporation of the C4 photosynthetic pathway into rice to increase rice yield per unit water transpired, the use of molecular biotechnology to enhance drought-stress tolerance and the development of aerobic rice, to achieve high and sustainable yields in non-flooded soil. Through the adoption of water-saving irrigation technologies, rice land will shift away from being continuously anaerobic to being partly or even completely aerobic. These shifts will have profound changes in water conservation, soil organic matter turnover, nutrient dynamics, carbon sequestration, soil productivity, weed ecology and greenhouse gas emissions. Whereas some of these changes can be perceived as positive, e.g. water conservation and decreased methane emission, some are perceived as negative, e.g. release of nitrous oxide from the soil and decline in soil organic matter. The challenge will be to develop effective integrated natural resource management interventions, which allow profitable rice cultivation with increased soil aeration, while maintaining the productivity, environmental services and sustainability of rice-based ecosystems.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 1) A water-productivity framework for understanding and action. Author(s): Molden, D. Murray-Rust, H. Sakthivadivel, R. Makin, I.
Chapter: 2 (Page no: 19) Economics of water productivity in managing water for agriculture. Author(s): Barker, R. Dawe, D. Inocencio, A.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 37) The concept of efficiency in water-resources management and policy. Author(s): Seckler, D. Molden, D. Sakthivadivel, R.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 69) Managing saline and alkaline water for higher productivity. Author(s): Tyagi, N. K.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 89) Water productivity under saline conditions. Author(s): Kijne, J. W.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 103) Opportunities for increasing water productivity of CGIAR crops through plant breeding and molecular biology. Author(s): Bennett, J.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 127) Management of drought in ICRISAT cereal and legume mandate crops. Author(s): Serraj, R. Bidinger, F. R. Chauhan, Y. S. Seetharama, N. Nigam, S. N. Saxena, N. P.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 145) Water productivity in rain-fed agriculture: challenges and opportunities for smallholder farmers in drought-prone tropical agroecosystems. Author(s): Rockström, J. Barron, J. Fox, P.
Chapter: 10 (Page no: 163) World water productivity: current situation and future options. Author(s): Cai, X. M. Rosegrant, M. W.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 179) Improving water productivity in the dry areas of West Asia and North Africa. Author(s): Oweis, T. Y. Hachum, A. Y.
Chapter: 12 (Page no: 199) Efficient management of rainwater for increased crop productivity and groundwater recharge in Asia. Author(s): Wani, S. P. Pathak, P. Sreedevi, T. K. Singh, H. P. Singh, P.
Chapter: 13 (Page no: 217) Water productivity in forestry and agroforestry. Author(s): Ong, C. K. Swallow, B. M.
Chapter: 14 (Page no: 229) Water productivity and potato cultivation. Author(s): Bowen, W. T.
Chapter: 15 (Page no: 239) Rice-wheat cropping systems in the Indo-Gangetic plains: issues of water productivity in relation to new resource-conserving technologies. Author(s): Hobbs, P. R. Gupta, R. K.
Chapter: 16 (Page no: 255) Land and water productivity of wheat in the Western Indo-Gangetic plains of India and Pakistan: a comparative analysis. Author(s): Intizar Hussain Sakthivadivel, R. Upali Amarasinghe
Chapter: 17 (Page no: 273) Reform of the Thai irrigation sector: is there scope for increasing water productivity? Author(s): Molle, F.
Chapter: 18 (Page no: 289) Upscaling water productivity in irrigated agriculture using remote-sensing and GIS technologies. Author(s): Bastiaanssen, W. Mobin-ud-Din Ahmad Zubair Tahir
Chapter: 19 (Page no: 301) Improving water productivity through deficit irrigation: examples from Syria, the North China Plain and Oregon, USA. Author(s): Zhang HePing