Ecological management of rice agriculture in southern India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As viable alternatives to industrialized agriculture, integrated agriculture, organic agriculture, and permaculture, for example, are currently available aiming to achieve sustainability and ensure environmental security. In this article I discuss some of the agroecological paradigms that align with alternative models for a sustainable rice-ecosystem management in southern India, given that changed management practices in the last 200 years have led to extensive deterioration of the soil and landscape. One high-value loss is the disappearance of native-rice germplasms, steadily replaced with high-yielding varieties. Although rice is usually raised as a monocultural crop, some trials indicate that it could be integrated with trees, which, need to be fast growing and nitrogen fixing. Rice is customarily seen as a high water-utilizing crop. Impact of rice cultivation on natural resources and water-based ecosystems is divergently twofold: (i) water withdrawal in rice paddies results in diminishing available water for natural ecosystems (e.g., wetlands); (ii) rice ecosystems could function as artificial wetlands. Maintenance of biological diversity is imperative for a productive and sustainable agriculture and the rice paddies are no exception. Integrated-rice farming is one viable practice that ensures how people can live harmoniously with Nature.System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a contemporary concept in ecologically improving rice performance. Rice transgenics are being currently attempted throughout the rice-growing world. Although GM technology is being portrayed as the magic bullet for several societal maladies, concerns prevail on their safety to environment and humans. We are in a fast era; at least we think that rapid turnaround of events is the norm. Is speed the root cause of the present malady? Slowing down would encourage sustainable agricultural practice? Is sustainable rice agriculture in southern India an exception to this thinking?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Volume39
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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