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Agroecological Rice Production in China

Restoring Biological Interactions

image of Agroecological Rice Production in China

Rice is the most important food crop, both worldwide and for China. To achieve a transition towards sustainable rice production based on agroecology, biodiversity is a crucial component. Through China’s long history of agricultural development, many rich experiences of harnessing biodiversity in traditional rice production have been accumulated. This agricultural heritage is complemented by new experiences developed over the past 30 years, associated with agroecology, ecological agriculture or eco-agriculture as it is variously termed in China. Eight typical methods of agroecological rice production are introduced in this report, with an emphasis on the role of biodiversity in this production. The first method is based on the genetic diversity of rice. The second to seventh methods each emphasize diversity at the species level. The eighth method is based on the use of biodiversity in rice production at the watershed scale. It is related to the ecosystem and landscape levels of biodiversity and agroecology outlined above. These agroecological methods for harnessing biodiversity in rice production can be learned, modified, improved and integrated into rice production across different regions around the world according to the specific context in each place. It is intended that the principles and ideas behind these methods can stimulate broader thinking on how to harness biodiversity for the sustainable production of other crops and for broader agricultural practices.

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Method 6 Rice-fish co-culture system

Rice fields provide an excellent environment for integrating aquaculture. In integrated rice coculture systems, a wide range of aquatic animals can be used, including fish, freshwater prawns, marine shrimps, crabs, turtles, frogs, etc. The co-culture system combining rice and fish has long been practiced in many rice-growing areas. The rice-fish co-culture system is an efficient way of using the same land resource to produce both carbohydrates and animal protein, either concurrently or in sequence. In rice-fish farming systems, water is used to simultaneously produce the two basic foods (Fig. 6.1). Rice-fish farming systems have tremendous potential for increasing food security and alleviating poverty in rural areas.

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