Growing More Rice with Less Water: An Overview of Research in Liuyuankou Irrigation System, Henan Province, China

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Date

2003

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"China, with a large part of its population dependent on rice production, is promoting water saving irrigation techniques based on alternate wetting and drying (AWD) of the paddy soils. AWD techniques and other water-saving irrigation (WSI) practices are currently being adopted in different parts of China. However, there are a number of research questions surrounding the nature and success of adoption in China. At the same time there is growing interest in WSI technologies outside of China. To address these questions, we initiated research in the Zhanghe Irrigation System (ZIS) in Hubei Province in 1999. In 2001 the research was extended for four years and to include the Liuyuankou Irrigation System (LIS). The ultimate goal of our research is to promote water management techniques in rice-based irrigation systems that sustain the environment and allow crop production to be maintained or increased in the face of growing demands for competing uses of water. The project assesses the impact of water saving technologies on water savings and water productivity at field, system, and sub-basin level. At field-level controlled experiments are conducted in conjunction with farm surveys designed to assess the financial benefits of WSI. Continuously flooded rice is compared with three different systems of water-saving irrigation – AWD, saturated soil culture with raised beds (SSC), and aerobic rice varieties and culture. Field results are being scaled up to determine whether the water-saving potential of alternative management practices at field level results in water saving at irrigation system, and sub-basin levels. The successful implementation of WSI requires a high degree of technical and institutional infrastructure to assure that water is delivered to farmers on time. The effects of policies, institutions, management practices and infrastructure on the allocation and utilization of water and on the incentive to adopt water-saving practices at farm level and at system levels are being studied. The initial results based on research being conducted at both ZIS and LIS are site specific. To extrapolate the findings to other areas with differing conditions, a generic modeling approach (crop growth simulation, hydrology) is being developed that can link interactions between scales (field, system, and sub-basin) and between various important factors that may lead to real water savings. The results of this study will serve the growing demand for research and knowledge on alternative strategies for water savings in China and countries outside of China."

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agriculture, rice, water management, irrigation, sustainability

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