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Package of Practices
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A modification of the QUEFTS model (Janssen et al. 1990) was used to predict the amount of fertilizer N, P, and K required for a specific yield target has been given by Witt et al.,2002; IRRI,2006) as follows:
  • Establishing a yield target for average climatic conditions: This yield target could be based either on a percentage (for example 70–80%) of the potential yield estimated with a crop growth model or on yields currently achievable by farmers practicing good crop management.
  • Estimating crop demand for N, P, and K for a target yield: Based on a large database of modern rice varieties with harvest indices of 0.45 to 0.55, the balanced plant nutrient requirement to produce a metric ton (1,000 kg) of unmilled rice was estimated as 15 kg N, 2.6 kg P (6 kg P2O5), and 15 kg K (18 kg K2O) for the linear portion of the relationship between grain yield and nutrient accumulation in the mature crop.
  • Estimating field-specific indigenous supply of N, P, and K: The indigenous supply is the cumulative crop uptake of a nutrient from all sources other than fertilizer (that includes soil, crop residues, manures, irrigation water, rainfall, and atmospheric deposition). It is determined by the nutrient omission plot technique, whereby the indigenous supply of a nutrient is estimated by its accumulation in a crop not fertilized with the nutrient of interest but fertilized with sufficient amounts of other nutrients to ensure they do not limit yield. Indigenous K supply, for example, is determined in a K omission plot receiving no K fertilizer but sufficient N and P to ensure they do not limit yield.
  • Establishing recovery efficiencies for fertilizer N, P, and K: Crop recovery efficiencies of 0.4 to 0.6 kg kg−1 for fertilizer N, 0.2 to 0.3 kg kg−1 for fertilizer P, and 0.4 to 0.5 kg kg−1 for fertilizer K were used as targets.
  • Estimating optimal N, P, and K fertilizer rates: The estimated crop demand for N, P, and K to optima

Initial Concept of SSNM

  • The concept of SSNM for rice was developed in the mid-1990s and then evaluated from 1997 to 2000 in about 200 irrigated rice farms at eight sites in six Asian countries.
  • SSNM aimed at dynamic field-specific management of N, P, and K fertilizers to optimize the supply and crop demand for nutrients.
  • The crop’s need for fertilizer N, P, or K was determined from the gap between the crop demand for sufficient nutrient to achieve a yield target and the nutrient supply from indigenous sources.

What is the site-specific nutrient management approach?

  • SSNM emphasizes ‘feeding’ rice with nutrients as and when needed.
  • SSNM strives to enable farmers to dynamically adjust fertilizer use to optimally fill the deficit between the nutrient needs of a high-yielding crop and the nutrient supply from naturally occurring indigenous sources such as soil, organic amendments, crop residues, manures, and irrigation water.
  • The SSNM approach does not specifically aim to either reduce or increase fertilizer use.
  • Instead, it aims to apply nutrients at optimal rates and times to achieve high yield and high efficiency of nutrient use by the rice crop, leading to high cash value of the harvest per unit of fertilizer invested.SSNM is a low tech, plant need based approach for optimizing nutrient requirement of the rice crop(IRRI,2006).

Developments of SSNM concept

  • Existing fertilizer recommendations for rice often consist of one predetermined rate of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) for vast areas of rice production.
  • Such recommendations assume that the need of a rice crop for nutrients is constant over time and over large areas.
  • But the growth and needs of a rice crop for supplemental nutrients can vary greatly among fields, seasons, and years as a result of differences in crop-growing conditions, crop and soil management, and climate.
  • Hence, the management of nutrients for rice required a new approach, which enables adjustments in applying N, P, and K to accommodate the field-specific needs of the rice crop for supplemental nutrients.
  • The site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) approach was developed in Asian rice-producing countries through partnerships of the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRI,2006).
  • It doesn’t aim to specifically reduce or increase fertilizer use( Buresh et al.,2005).

Transplanted in narrow valley lands

The most prevalent method of rice cultivation is the transplanted rice in valley lands in which generally the moisture regime is much higher and it is possible to grow transplanted rice in these situations.

The NE region is substantially rich in indigenous techniques and systems developed by the tribal farmers using their ingenuity and skill. Research and development efforts are, therefore, needed to work out and implement viable alternatives to the existing traditional FS, which may be environmentally safe, sustainable productive and acceptable to the farmers (Borthakur et al., 1983). Shifting cultivation is the main traditional FS of the region. In addition to shifting cuItivation, some other traditional FS exist in the region. Important among them are rice-based farming system of Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh, Adi rice cultivation Zabo FS of Nagaland,  Panikheti in Nagaland, Dhan kheti in Sikkim and high altitude Monpa FS in Kameng Himalaya.


Transplanted on wet terraces

In the states of Nagaland, Sikkim and Manipur the rice is cultivated on carefully designed wet terraces. The water coming from the upstream and highlands is tamed and made to stand behind the bunds. The flow of water is regulated and it is carefully carried  from one terrace to the other and finally drained off in the downstream channels leading to streams or nallas. In this system of rice cultivation, there is no control on the movement of nutrients with water (Kannan et al., 1999). Zabo farming system of Nagaland and Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh are example of a better-managed resource systems but not the well-managed system. Because these systems, due to extremely high rainfall result into excessively high runoff with disturbances in the soil.


Direct seeded rainfed on level bench terraces

In this case, the rice is cultivated on dry terraces of different shapes and sizes as rain fed crop. There is no careful planning and scientific design of water conveyance and drainage systems; rather the irrigation is applied from one terrace to the other except a few well developed system of rice farming in the region.


Direct seeded, rainfed in upland (on steep slopes)

The patches of land are cleared in the hills and vegetation is burnt to make plots for rice cultivation on steep hill slopes. The paddy seeds are directly broad casted on steep hill slopes, which germinate with moisture availability. The crop is mainly grown as rain fed without any control on water application. Provisions, however, are made for safe removal of excess water from the fields by providing drainage channels along the slopes.




Rice farming is practiced in several ecological zones however most of the rice farming occurs in warm/cool humid subtropics, warm humid tropics and in warm sub-humid tropics. IRRI, 1993 has categorized rice ecosystems into four types of land ecosystems such as

  • Irrigated rice
  • Rainfed lowland rice
  • Upland rice ecosystem
  • Flood prone rice ecosystem
  • In irrigated rice ecosystems the rice fields have assured water supply for one or more crops a year. This is the major rice ecosystem.
    The rainfed lowland ecosystem is characterized by its low soil moisture and the soils are often hungry and thirsty for major period of the year.
    The upland rice ecosystem is characterized in several forms such as shifting of Jhum rice and permanent settled rice cultivation. This is cultivated on level to sloppy fields/plots.
    These fields are rarely flooded and mostly they are aerobic soil. Rice is directly seeded on plowed dry soil or dibbled in wet and non puddle.
    In flood prone rice ecosystem the fields are level to slightly sloping or depressed fields. Mostly during crop growth fields are flooded to 50 cm or more for more than ten consecutive days.
    Rice is transplanted in puddle soil.

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