Soil fertility in flooded and non-flooded irrigated rice systems
The lowland rice system in Asia makes a major contribution to the global rice supply and is often cited as an example of a sustainable system in which two or three crops of rice are grown in sequence under submerged conditions. However, water shortages are becoming critical in some regions for lowland rice cultivation; and there is high potential in exploring rice cultivation under moisture regimes that save water and also increase productivity. The objective of this article therefore is to analyze the consequences of switching growing of rice from flooded to aerobic conditions on soil fertility and its management. Fertility advantages of submerged rice include amelioration of chemical fertility, preferential accumulation of organic matter and improved availability of major, secondary and selected micronutrients, which contribute to the long-term maintenance of soil fertility and sustainability of the lowland rice system. However, the fertility problems under aerobic rice are better addressed with the crop as a component of a cropping system because continuous growing of aerobic rice in sequence does not seem sustainable due to complex, site-specific chemical and biological constraints.