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.



Method 1 Intercropping of two rice varieties

The use of biodiversity to manage crop diseases has gained increasing attention in recent years. Rice blast disease is one of the most significant rice diseases, and controlling it without the use of chemical pesticides has been a challenge. Youyong Zhu and colleagues from Yunnan Agricultural University have conducted in-depth studies on the control of rice blast disease through rice genetic diversity, selecting the best combination of varieties, and optimizing planting patterns (e.g. Zhu et al., 2000). Through this research, technical parameters and procedures were established, alongside a large application demonstration area. The method resulted in the effective control of the epidemic of rice blast disease without using pesticides, while simultaneously increasing rice yields and protecting a large number of rice genetic resources. It set a successful example for the use and protection of genetic biodiversity for crop production.


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