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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 2 Rice intercropping with lotus

A very special intercropping system was developed by farmers in Litang Town, Binyang County, Guangxi Region, China. The region specializes in lotus production, with an area of 1 340 hectares under lotus production, producing 50 000 tonnes per year of lotus root. However, farmers had to buy rice from the market, they wondered, “can we produce our own rice in lotus fields?” Following several years of hard work, a very unique rice-lotus intercropping system was developed, capable of harvesting 37.5–45.0 tonnes of lotus root and 5.2–7.5 tonnes of rice per hectare (XieYidong, 2009).

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