We got this very good news from a release of the International Rice Research Institute stating that rice farmers in China can decrease their nitrogen fertilizer and pesticide use by up to 20% and increase their yield by 10 percent. This is by using the “three controls technology” or 3CT.
IRRI said that this was reported by Xuhua Zhong of the Rice Research Institute of the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences. This was during the May 2015 review and planning meeting of the CORIGAP (Closing rice yield gaps in Asia with reduced environmental footprint), a project led by IRRI.
The three controls technology (3CT), according to IRRI, involves controlling the amount of fertilizer, unproductive tillers, and diseases and insects. The technique is now being used by around 40 percent of farmers in Guangdong.
The release continues: Zhong explained that, aside from reduction in nitrogen fertilizer use, the core change that comes with the use of 3CT is that it postpones fertilizer application from the early growth stage to the middle and late growth stages.
“With less fertilizer, the rice plant is sturdy, does not lodge, and is less prone to diseases such as sheath blight, so pesticide use is also reduced. Farmers can thus save on fertilizer, pesticide, and labor costs.”
The 10 percent increase in yield from the use of 3CT is equivalent to 600 kilos (0.6 ton) per hectare on average.
IRRI continues: “3CT could help China increase rice production in the face of multiple challenges. Since the 1990s, China has experienced low and unstable yields, excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, environmental pollution, and low profits, according to Zongyong Jiang, president of the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences.”
In 2012, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) recommended 3CT for use in rice farming, in line with its move to reduce chemical fertilizer and pesticide use.
3CT is now widely adopted by rice farmers, according to Jiang. “Because of what has been achieved through 3CT, the research team headed by Xuhua Zhong was awarded the first-class Science and Technology Prize by the Guangdong provincial government,” Jiang reported. “In recent years GDRRI (Guangdong Rice Research Institute) has been working with the IRRI to develop low-carbon and high-yielding technology, which aims to further reduce fertilizer use. The new technology, a set of crop management practices, is expected to lessen water use and greenhouse gas emissions.”