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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 8 Biodiversity landscape arrangement for rice production

Biodiversity use in rice production is not only confined to the paddy field, but is also closely related to the landscape environment where the paddy field is located. The influence of the landscape on rice production includes many factors. The distance of the rice field to factory or mining sites will affect the air quality and water quality of the rice field. The distance of the rice field from cities or towns may affect its accessibility to markets and the number of visitors. Mountains and hills within the same watershed may affect the quality and quantity of the water resources of the rice field. The natural vegetation and different habitats surrounding the rice field may by home to many birds, spiders, frogs and other animals that interact with animals in the rice field. Even other crops close to rice field may have an effect on rice production by competing for water resources, reducing food resources for rice pests, or providing plant residues as compost. Therefore, it is important to have a suitable landscape arrangement for sustainable rice production. In this section, the biodiversity landscape arrangement method used in rice production areas is introduced.

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