1. Baseline survey and needs analysis
A baseline survey was conducted among 248 households from 12 villages in four counties (Gaoyao, Renhua, Yangxi, and Lianjiang) in Guangdong Province in 2012. The farmers were divided into three groups according to their adoption of the Three Controls Technology (i.e., those who adopted the technology fully, partially).
Full adopters and partial adopters applied significantly less nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilizer compared to non-adopters, but they obtained significantly higher grain yield. There is a great potential for farmers in Guangdong to increase grain yield and reduce N and P fertilizer input through improved nutrient management.
2. On-station research on AWD and low carbon (greenhouse gas emission)
A field experiment on alternate wetting and drying (AWD), a water-saving practice, was conducted in Guangzhou for both
early (March-June) and late (July-November) seasons with four water management regimes and two varieties.
Irrigated lowland rice is usually grown under flooded conditions, and kept flooded to help control weeds and pests. However, researchers found that rice needs to be continuously flooded only at the flowering stage. Through AWD, fields can be dried for 1–10 days before being re-flooded. Farmers can save 15–30% of water and still harvest the same yields. The water saved can be used to irrigate more fields, thus increasing overall production.
The experiments aimed to: a) determine the performance of high-yielding rice varieties under different irrigation management schemes; b) determine if high-yielding rice could still produce high yield under water-saving conditions; c) determine how much water will be saved under AWD conditions compared to farmer’s practice; and d) determine the effectiveness of AWD on reducing greenhouse gas emission.
There was no significant difference in grain yield under the different water treatments. On average, Tianyou3618 (hybrid rice variety) produced 16.7% higher yield and consistently higher water productivity than Hefengzhan (inbred variety).
The amount of rainfall can fully satisfy the rice water demand during the early season. The late-season results of the experiment are still being analyzed.
3. Focus group discussions
Rice is the major crop in the four villages. Transplanting and fertilizer application are mostly done manually, while land preparation and harvesting are commonly performed mechanically.
Men and women divide their field work according to labor strength, and both share the decision-making rights in production policy or domestic affairs.
The main constraints of farmers were: 1) rat and bird damage; 2) plant lodging during the early season; (3) lack of storage facilities; 4) low income from rice production due to high input and labor costs, and 5) lack of available labor.
Farmers claimed that the younger generation prefer to work in factories and construction companies for better income, leaving older farmers to continue working in the farm.