SRI is not exactly a new method of rice farming, nor is it a radical departure from the traditional method of rice farming. It was developed in 1983 in Madagascar and has been adopted by many countries all over the world since 1999. We are also not the first rice farmers in Brunei to use SRI but we are definitely, currently, the only farm in Brunei that is using the system and yielding great success both in quality and quantity of harvest.
SRI is a work in progress, with improvements continually being made, including better implements and techniques that further reduce farming input requirements. Yield is the most evident (and controversial) feature of SRI, so it is only natural that there are sceptisms that befell the credibility of the system, which is evident by the poor reception and acceptance of the system by our local rice farming community. But many other considerations are also driving the SRI's spread around the world. So through this blog we intend to share our success story including the trials and tribulations experienced for the benefit of Bruneian rice farmers as well as globally.
So what is SRI? In a nutshell SRI is a method of increasing production yield of rice farming while at the same time reducing the requirement of chemical inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, as well as reducing the requirement for seed and water (depending on rice variety).
By utilising the SRI system, we have managed to more than double the production of rice per acre. The local rice farming community can only manage to harvest about a ton of rice per lot (2 acres++ almost a hectare)...our farm produces more than a ton of rice per acre.
This is why SRI was scoffed at when the local rice farming community first learned that only one seedling per clump/hill is required for planting instead of the traditional 3-5 seedlings per clump/hill.
How can output be doubled by reducing input logic would ask?...but that's where the law of nature comes in. Put simply, the more mouths there are to feed the less food gets to every mouth and hence more food is required. Whereas if there are less mouths to feed more food gets to each mouth and the more tummies get bloated...
Then there is the question of space...there is very little oxygen in a box full of chicken than there are in a box with only a fowl. Based on our trials, we've concluded that spacings of 15 inches apart between seedlings is more ideal compared to using SRI's specified 10 inches to achieve the ideal yield per acre. As have been mentioned, SRI is a work in progress with improvements continually being made...therefore it is only natural for experimentations to be conducted in order to adapt the system to the local soil and land conditions. The wider spacing also allows for rain and sun to better reach the leaves.
Full info on SRI can be found at http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/.
Special mention to Dr Hj Sablee Hj Aspar for introducing to us the SRI system.