Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Rice Breeding Innovations team learns about mechanized irrigation system for direct-seeded rice

Amid a climate crisis, it remains a challenge to meet the increasing global demand for rice. Direct-seeded rice (DSR) aims to reduce the environmental impact of rice production by producing rice efficiently with less labor, water, energy, and agrochemicals. It is a major undertaking for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

As DSR is seen to be one of the most efficient, sustainable, and economically viable rice production systems used today, the direct seeding demand of IRRI's rice breeding operations also increases. To support the need for DSR, a mechanization project funded by Crops to End Hunger (CtEH) in partnership with Excellence in Breeding (EiB) has been initiated at IRRI Headquarters (HQ) and in Hyderabad, India, and Nairobi, Kenya. This upgrade will increase the breeding efficiency of the DSR method of cultivation and take advantage of the automated irrigation technology.

With the installation of remotely controlled irrigation with fertigation and drainage systems,  a series of training sessions on Automated Drip Irrigation with Fertigation System used for Direct Seeding was conducted in September and October 2022 targeting research operations staff and researchers at IRRI HQ.

The training aimed to provide knowledge and practical skills on automated drip operation among the 24 participants from different Rice Breeding Innovations units:  Product Development and Varietal Replacement (Early, Medium, and Late Maturity programs), ZES-Irrigation and Mechanization and CCO-Seed Production and Yield Trial group. Some staff from the Postharvest and Mechanization Research group also attended to support the DSR project. It focused on the manual and automation testing of the drip irrigation system, its installation process, and operation and maintenance.

At the end of this training, participants will develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) after the implementation of the automated drip irrigation system developed at IRRI-HQ and implement continuous improvement in irrigation and fertigation management, particularly on the timing of application.

Mr. Gideon Torollo, Associate Scientist for Plant Breeding, organized the training with resource speakers from Jain Irrigation- drip irrigation technology provider.


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