Monday, January 8, 2024

IRRI and Thailand Rice Department collaborate to promote sustainable straw composting technology in country

To promote the mechanization of rice straw collection and handling in Thailand, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Thailand Rice Department organized a training workshop and field demonstration on mechanized rice straw-based composting at Thailand Rice Science Institute (TRSI) in Suphanburi province, Thailand on 20 November 2023.

To reduce open-field burning and promote the rice straw-based circular economy, the technology transfer event highlighted the mechanized straw composting technology to produce organic fertilizer developed by the IRRI mechanization team and successfully tested in Vietnam. The technology combined physical and biochemical processes to optimize the composting process and compost product quality. 

The workshop brought together 80 participants, including representatives from the Thailand Rice Department, Land and Development Department, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Extension, farmers from six provinces under the Thai Rice NAMA project, and partners such as Olam (Thailand) Ltd. and the Stockholm Environment Institute.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Kanit Prapetch, Acting Director of the Bureau of Rice Policy and Strategy at the Thai Rice Department, emphasized the significance of sustainable rice straw handling techniques. He outlined the adverse environmental and health impacts of open-field burning. He highlighted the importance of mechanized rice straw-based composting as a pivotal element in promoting the circular economy within Thailand's agriculture industry.

The workshop featured a presentation by Mr. Nguyen Van Hieu, an IRRI Consultant, who elaborated on the mechanized rice straw composting process. The method entails turning rice straw into compost, significantly reducing decomposition time from 90 days to 45 days compared to traditional methods. Mr. Hieu also presented the evolution of the compost turner, with advancements such as the self-propelled model, which enhances operational capacity and efficiency.

The field demonstration showcased the mechanized compost turner in action, underscoring its role in accelerating decomposition, reducing labor requirements, and promoting a more sustainable handling of rice straw. Participants discussed the potential economic benefits, productivity enhancements, and integration of additional functionalities with the compost turner.

From the point of view of the Department of Agricultural Extension and the Department of Agriculture, the machine has the potential to increase the productivity of rice straw-based composting because it can operate faster and more efficiently.

On the other hand, the representative from the Rice Department observed that the machine is designed to handle large volumes of rice straw and mix the compost quickly and efficiently. However, the representative added that the machine was developed using specific factors of compost decomposition in Vietnam. To promote this technology in Thailand, the representative suggested conducting testing of the location-specific factors, such as rice straw varieties, nutrient contents in rice straw, , microorganisms, and environments that involve the decomposition.

A representative from the Olam Thailand company expressed interest in further exploring the economic aspects of the technology and its potential to assist farmers and service providers in making informed investment decisions.

This work is part of the Thai Rice Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) project funded by the NAMA Facility, Thai Rice Department, the CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas, GIZ-funded Promoting Rice Straw Innovations project (PINSTRAW), and the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund-supported Rice Straw-based Circular Economy (RiceEco).


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