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Rice ecosystems in India

Rice is the staple food for more than 65% of population in India. It is cultivated in several agroecological regions. Rice farming is highly widespread and practiced under diversified soil and climatic conditions; hence there are wide variations in variety, methods of cultivation and. soil and water management practices followed. Rice ecosystems in India can be grouped into following categories.

• Irrigated
• Rainfed Rice Eco System: (i) Upland
(ii) Low land
• Flood Prone Rice Eco System

Irrigated Rice Eco System:

The total area under irrigated rice in India is about 22 million hectares, which accounts about 49.5% of the total area under rice crop in the country. Irrigated rice is grown in bunded fields; Irrigation is the main source of water in the dry season and is used to supplement rainfall in the wet season. The major irrigated rice-cropping systems in India are rice-rice, rice-rice-rice, and rice-wheat. The average yield is 4–5 t ha-1. Major problems encountered in this production system are yield instability and environmental degradation due to and unbalanced nutrient use, inefficient irrigation water management.

Rain fed Rice Eco System:

Practiced in the areas with rain fall.>1000mm and scope of irrigation is limited. The rainfed rice area is about 24.4 million. The productivity is very low (< 0.98 tones/hectare), due to uncertainty of available water.

Rainfed Upland Rice Eco System

Upland rice area in India is about 6 million hectares which accounts13.5% of the total area under rice crop in the country. The areas lies in eastern zone comprising of Assam, Bihar, Eastern M.P., Orissa, Eastern U.P., West Bengal and North-Eastern Hill region. Upland rice is mostly grown as direct seeded. Fields are unbunded. This is almost a subsistence crop with minimum input. Productivity is ve

Tidal Wetland Rice Ecosystem


1. Tidal wetlands are the areas where the land meets the sea. 2. These areas are periodically flooded by seawater during high or spring tides or, are affected by the cyclic changes in water levels caused by the tidal cycle. 3. Salt marshes and mud flats are some typical types of tidal wetlands found along New York's marine shoreline. 4. Tidal wetlands are classified by the amount of water covering the area at high and low tides and the type of vegetation. 5. New York State uses specific categories and codes to describe and represent different types of coastal, tidal and fresh water wetlands. 6. These codes and abbreviations are used to identify wetlands on Tidal Wetlands Inventory Maps and help in administering program for their protection.

Deep Water Rice Ecosystem


1. About 13 million hectares are under deep water rice ecosystem. Mostly in South Asia. 2. These are the regions where rice grows under rainfed dryland or shallow flooding conditions for 1-3 months and is then subjected to flooding with water depth of more than 50 cm for a month or longer. 3. These areas are found in the river basins of Ganges and Brahmaputra in India and Bangladesh, the Irrawaddy in Myanamar, the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and Cambodia and the Chao Pharaya in Thailand. 4. When water levels are above 100 cm, the crop is known as floating rice, while Tidal Wetlands occur where water levels are fluctuating and are influenced by tide such as in coastal belts.

Flood Prone Rice Ecosystem

1. Flood-prone ecosystems are prevalent in South and Southeast Asia, and are characterized by periods of extreme flooding and drought.

2. Yields are low and variable. Flooding occurs during the wet season from June to November, and rice varieties are chosen according to the power of tolerance to submersion.

3. Flood Prone Rice ecosystems in India represent 26% of total cultivated  area.


Rainfed Upland Rice Eco System


1. Upland Rice Ecosystems are found in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. 2. In India, the total area under upland rainfed rice is about 6.0 million hectares, which accounts13.5% of the total area under rice crop in the country. 3. Upland rice areas lies in Eastern zone comprising of Assam, Bihar, Eastern M.P., Orissa, Eastern U.P., West Bengal and North-Eastern Hill region. 4. Upland rice fields are generally dry, unbunded, and directly seeded. 5. Land utilized in upland rice production is low, due to low lying, drought-prone, rolling, or steep sloping.

Rainfed Lowland Rice Eco System

1. Rainfed lowland rice is found in East India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand, which is 25% of total rice area of the world. 2. In India, lowland rice area is about 14.4 million hectares, which accounts for 32.4 % of the total area under rice crop in the country. 3. Production is variable because of the lack of technology used in rice production. 4. Rainfed lowland farmers are typically challenged by poor soil quality, drought/flood conditions, and erratic yields.

Irrigated Rice Eco System

1. Irrigated ecosystems are the primary type found in East Asia.

2. Irrigated ecosystems provide 75% of Global rice production.

3. In India, the total area under irrigated rice is about 22.00 million hectares, which accounts about 49.5% of the total area under rice crop in the Country.

4. Rice is grown under irrigated conditions in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

5. Irrigated rice is grown in bunded (embanked) paddy fields.


Ecosystem diversity in Rice

1. Rice is grown under diverse conditions in India. It is cultivated exclusively as a rainfed crop in areas with precarious monsoon and unpredictable rainfall distribution. 2. It is also raised in areas where water level reaches 5 metres or more. The rice culture in Kuttanad district of Kerala is below the sea level. 3. While in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, it is grown almost upto an altitude of 2000 MSL (6600 ft). 4. A wide range of rainfall distribution pattern (drought, submergence, deepwater) and distinct differences in soils (coastal and inland salinity, alkalinity, acidity), agro-climatic situations (high humidity) and seasons have resulted in the cultivation of thousands of varieties and one can see a standing rice crop at some part of the country or the other in any time of the year.

Rice based Ecosystems in India

1. Rice farming is practiced in several agro ecological zones in India. No other country in the world has such diversity in rice ecosystems. 2. Because cultivation is so widespread, development of four distinct types of ecosystems have been reported in India. 3. Six distinct Rice based ecosystems in India are: 1. Irrigated Rice Eco System 2. Rainfed Upland Rice Eco System 3. Rainfed Lowland Rice Eco System 4. Flood Prone Rice Eco System 5. Deep water ecosystem 6. Tidal wetland ecosystem
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