Comparison of Rice in Organic/Conventional Systems

Abstract: A field experiment was conducted for 5 years (2004–2005 to 2009–2010) covering 10 crop seasons [five wet (WS;Kharif) and five dry (DS;Rabi)] at the Directorate of Rice Research farm, Hyderabad, India, to compare the influence of organic and conventional farming systems on productivity of fine grain rice varieties, cumulative partial nutrient balance, and soil health/quality in terms of nutrient availability, physical and biological properties, and sustainability index. Two main plot treatments were with and without plant protection measures, and four subplot treatments were (1) control (CON), (2) inorganic fertilizers (CF), (3) organics (OF), and (4) inorganics + organics (integrated nutrient management, INM). During wet season, grain yields with CF and INM were near stable (5.0 to 5.5 t ha−1) and superior to organics by 15–20% during the first 2 years, which improved with OF (4.8 to 5.4 t ha−1) in the later years to comparable levels with CF and INM. However, during DS, CF and INM were superior to OF for 4 consecutive years and OF recorded yields on par with CF and INM in the fifth year. The partial nutrient balance over 10 crop seasons for N and P was positive and greater with OF and INM over CF and for K it was positive with OF alone and negative with CF and INM. There were increases in SOC and available N, P, and K by 50–58%, 3–10%, 10–30%, and 8–25% respectively, with OF, over CF at the end of 5 years. The sustainability index (SI) of the soil system was maximum with organics (1.63) and CF recorded 1.33, which was just above the minimum sustainability index of 1.30 after 5 years. Thus, organic farming needs more than 2 years to stabilize rice productivity and bring about perceptible improvement in soil quality and sustainability in irrigated rice.

Reference: Surekha, K. K., and Satishkumar, Y. S. (2014). Productivity, Nutrient Balance, Soil Quality, and Sustainability of Rice ( Oryza sativa L.) under Organic and Conventional Production Systems. Communications In Soil Science & Plant Analysis 45(4) 415-428. Available online at