The IRRI Upland Rice Research Program

Directions and Achievements

C. Piggin, B. Courtois, T. George, S. Pandey, R. Lafitte, G. Kirk, M. Kondo, H. Leung, R. Nelson, M. Olofsdotter, J.C. Prot, G. Reversat, W. Roder,

V. Schmit, V.P. Singh, G. Trebuil, R. Zeigler, K. Fahrney, J.C. Castella


I 998

No. 23 Olk D, ed. 1998. Reversing trends of declining productivity in intensive irrigated rice systems.

No. 24 Coloquio EL, Tiongco ER, Cabunagan RC, Azzam O. 1998. Evaluating two mass screening methods for tungro disease resistance.



ISBN 971-22-0114-7 ISSN 0117-8180

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was established in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations with the help and approval of the Government of the Philippines. Today IRRI is one of the 16 nonprofit international research centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The CGIAR is cosponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its membership comprises donor countries, international and regional organizations, and private foundations.

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Suggested citation:

C Piggin et al. 1998. The IRRI rainfed lowland rice research program: directions and achievements. Manila (Philippines):

International Rice Research Institute.

ISBN 971-22-0111-2 ISSN 0117-8180

The IRRI Upland Rice Research Program

Directions and Achievements

C. Piggin, B. Courtois, T. George, S. Pandey, R. Lafitte, G. Kirk, M. Kondo, H. Leung, R. Nelson, M. Olofsdotter, J.C. Prot, G. Reversat, W. Roder,

V. Schmit, V.P. Singh, G. Trebuil, R. Zeigler, K. Fahrney, J.C. Castella



INTERNATlONAL RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE P.O. Box 933, 1099 Manila, Philippines


The Future of Upland Rice

Research Opportunities in Upland Rice-based Systems Germplasm Improvement

Resource and Crop Management Improvement: Biotic and Abiotic Constraints Economic and Policy Analysis

Interactions in the Upland Program


Collaboration in the Upland Rice Research Program References

1 4 6

12 19 22 23 24 25

IRRI Upland Rice Ecosystem Program

The Future of Upland Rice Upland rice area

About 17 million hectares of upland rice are grown annually worldwide, with 10.5 million ha in Asia, 3.7 million ha in Latin America, and 2.8 million ha in Africa (IRRI 1993). Total upland production is about 20 million tons. Rice is a major staple crop for upland farmers in many parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The total area supporting upland rice-based cropping is considerably larger because of rotation with fallow and other crops. The crop is grown alone or in diverse mixtures in shifting or permanent fields under a wide range of conditions of climate, slope, and soil type, often as a subsistence crop receiving few purchased inputs, although it is commonly a commercial crop receiving inputs in favorable areas such as Brazil, Indonesia, and the southern Philippines.

Reported upland rice areas have remained stable or have increased in some countries, including the major Asian producers Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia, but have declined for others such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Myanmar (Table 1). Care needs to be taken, however, in interpreting upland rice area estimates, which can be unreliable. For example, the 1991 upland rice area in the Philippines was reported as 68,000 ha in the 1993 IRRI Rice Almanac (IRRI 1993), as 171,000 ha in the 1997 IRRI Rice Almanac (IRRI 1997), and as 126,000 ha by the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (Pandey, unpublished 1997).

Table 1. Changing areas (000 ha) of upland rice in Asia (from IRRI 1993 and Pandey 1996).

The variation in the importance of upland rice over time and across countries can be partly explained (Pandey 1996) on the basis of population density and market access (Fig. 1). Increasing population pressure pushes farming systems to become more intensive and sedentary. Increasing market access moves the systems toward more commercial production of nonrice crops. In areas with low population pressure and limited market access, the traditional system was shifting cultivation and long natural fallows, but these areas are declining because of increasing population pressure and political reaction against unsustainable slash-and-burn cropping. Integrated rice-based systems, where upland rice is grown in rotation with a range of annual

crops in permanent fields, are found in situations with high population pressure but limited market access and are the dominant systems in Asia (70% of the upland area). These are a major focus for IRRI research. Priority is also given to the newly emerging perennial-based systems (14% of area), where rice and other annual crops are grown in association with permanent plantations such as rubber, oil palm, and fruit trees, which are developing in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Intensive cash-based systems are presently small but will increase in importance with development-whether upland rice will have a place in such systems will depend on the relative price of rice and other upland crops.

Scenarios in the uplands

.. Type3 .

• Integrated : Type 4 Intensive

• rice-based cash-based

• (70% area) : (2% area)


High • ~ __ ----~

Population ~ ; :.~i.I~~~.i~e~anaiicf

pressure Type 1 Traditional : Type 2 ExtenSIve slaosh-and-bU~. perennial-based

(14 Yo area) Vietnam: (14% area)

Low ~

.~ ~ ~


· ~

Low High

Market access

Fig. 1. Characterization of upland rice systems according to market access and population. (Adapted from Pandey 1996.)

Upland rice yields

Over the past 30-40 years, average yields of upland rice in Asia have risen slowly, increasing annually by 0.8% in India, 2.0% in the Philippines, and l.6% in Indonesia. In contrast, increases have been greater in irrigated systems, at around 2.5% in both India and the Philippines (Fig. 2). This is a reflection of the enormous research effort that has been devoted to irrigated systems over the past 40 years, and the consequent wide adoption of improved germplasm that can express yield potential consistently under favorable irrigated conditions with high levels of inputs. In contrast, upland systems have received much less research attention, and much of the work that has been done has been of a more applied and site-specific nature.

The productivity increases observed in the upland ecosystem may be partly because, with market integration, upland rice cultivation tends to be concentrated in favorable upland areas. There is


little indication in areas where rainfall or soils are unfavorable and risk is significant that input use has increased significantly or that farmers are benefiting much from improvements in yield potential that have occurred as a result of cultivar improvement. In favorable environments with less climatic risk (Brazil, Philippine Mindanao, Indonesia), however, farmers are applying inputs and using improved cultivars. Farmers can achieve yields of 3 t ha-l in Mindanao, Philippines, and up to 5 t ha-l in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

We postulate that a more strategic research approach will provide essential understanding to underpin the development of more productive and sustainable upland systems. Because IRRI is the lead CGIAR center in humid Asia, and rice is a staple in these upland systems, it is essential that IRRI maintain a role in this ecosystem. IRRI provides strategic research support to complement the more applied development efforts of NARS.

Yield (t ha')




3.5 3.0



' .. , ""'"



- - Irrigated -


•• Upland

.. .. .. ..


............. . ......





1976 Year





Yield (t ha-I) 4.0



, I' _

" ,


- - Irrigated -


•• Upland








1971 Year





Fig. 2. Trends in rice yield by ecosystem (IRRI Rice Statistics Database).

Ecosystem considerations in the uplands

Sustainability issues. Deforestation and burning are commonly said to be associated with upland systems, although they are actually restricted mostly to slash-and-burn systems. The slash-andburn system represents only 14% of the upland rice area in Asia and is decreasing in importance.


Under high population pressure, however, it is detrimental to the environment. Erosion is more widespread, although it occurs only under specific conditions of slope, rainfall, and land preparation. Degradation of soil and water resources can have severe adverse consequences on adjoining lowland ecosystems. For permanent systems, strategic research information on issues such as nutrient cycling, pest ecology, and sustainable rotations is limited for upland rice, and also for other crops grown in upland systems. In some countries, rehabilitation of enormous areas of degraded uplands is a priority-with upland rice an important component in the rehabilitation process. For example, in Indonesia, there is a program to rehabilitate 9-10 million ha of Imperata grasslands using conservation farming (zero tillage and herbicides) of upland rice under developing oil palm and rubber plantations (A. Fagi, Director, CRIFC, Indonesia, personal communication 1996). More strategic understanding of such rehabilitation systems is essential.

Equity, food security, and poverty issues. Equity issues compel us to attempt to improve conditions for upland farmers in Asia. Recent IFPRI studies (Fan and Hazell 1997) show that the marginal returns from government investments in technology and infrastructure are now larger in rainfed areas than in irrigated areas. The rural poor are concentrated in rainfed areas, and poverty reduction in these areas has been relatively small. Although overall economic development remains the main engine for poverty reduction, investment in improving the productivity of food crops in the uplands can be justified on the grounds of food security, poverty alleviation, and equity-all major platforms of the CGIAR. The national programs in countries with significant upland areas recognize this, and have developed upland research and development groups that look to IRRI to provide research collaboration, support, and training.

Water scarcity. As water becomes increasingly scarce in the irrigated lowlands, some areas with light-textured soils wiIllikely be forced to move away from paddy rice to systems of restricted irrigation. Considerable water savings will be possible if we transform rice into a truly aerobic crop. Research on the genetics and physiology of drought tolerance, now being conducted in the upland program, will provide a strong strategic base for the future development of varieties adapted to a restricted water supply.

Research Opportunities in Upland Rice-based Systems

Where are the research opportunities to improve the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of upland rice-based systems? The low yield of upland rice has been attributed mainly to insufficient and irregular moisture supply, heavy weed infestation, nutritional imbalance, inadequate cultural practices, inefficient control of insect pests and diseases, and the lack of suitable varieties. Arraudeau (1994), in a survey of researchers conducted in 36 countries representing approximately 90% of the upland rice area in the world, reported that the major abiotic constraints were drought, P deficiency, and soil acidity, and the major biotic constraints were weeds, blast, brown spot, and stem borers. Roder et al (1995) reported that farmers in Lao PDR considered weeds, rodents, insufficient rainfall, the lack of land availability, and insects to be the major constraints to upland rice production. Widawsky and OToole (1990) reported that scientists attributed yield losses of upland rice in eastern India mostly to drought, weeds, acid soils, and blast.

The major constraints and their relative importance vary according to agroecological conditions. Three zones are generally recognized on the basis of climate, soils, and slopes. The semiarid


plateau areas of eastern India and Bangladesh grow rice under permanent integrated systems. The hilly, subhumid areas of northeast India, north Myanmar, north Thailand, northern Vietnam, Lao PDR, and south China have predominantly slash-and-burn systems. The equatorial humid areas of Indonesia, southern Vietnam, and the southern Philippines grow rice in commercial systems based on marketable tree and food crops. As physical and human factors are not independent, each agroecological zone corresponds roughly to a dominant production system.

IRRI has combined this information on constraints with our understanding of factors affecting land use patterns to set the research agenda for upland rice. For example, germplasm improvement focuses (as illustrated in Figure 3) on the integrated rice-based and extensive perennial-based systems. Nutrient management research (as illustrated in Figure 4) targets areas where slopes are not too steep and rainfall is more reliable.

The IRRI upland rice program

Although IRRI has undertaken upland research for many years, it has only been since 1990 that a critical mass of scientists has been assembled in a program framework where a more strategic approach has been taken to understand and overcome the major constraints of the ecosystem.

Donor support for the program is strong. Of 8.1 scientist-equivalent positions in the program in 1997, only 1.8 are supported with core IRRI salaries, whereas 6.3 are supported by partners and donors (DANIDA, GTZ, USAID, Japan, CIRAD, ORSTOM) and work on restricted core projects from the approved IRRI research agenda. Similarly, some 80% of the US$700,000 operating budget for the upland program is provided by donors to support these restricted projects. This tremendous outside support is a strong recognition of the pivotal international role IRRI plays in providing strategic support for efforts of NARS to develop productive and sustainable farming systems in this difficult upland environment.

The major thrust of the program is to develop an understanding and technology to maximize the productivity and sustainability of upland rice where it is grown, help maximize returns for farmer efforts, and reduce the area needed to satisfy demands for upland rice. Many studies are also providing a scientific understanding with broad application outside the upland ecosystem.

The program has several major themes. One involves germplasm improvement to overcome major abiotic (drought, erosion) and biotic (weeds, blast, nematodes) constraints, moving away from traditional breeding and selection and using new technologies to target, characterize, and incorporate desired genes. Two novel projects are on: (1) developing a perennial rice for the uplands to help control erosion and improve food security and (2) investigating allelopathy in rice to assist with sustainable weed management. The perennial upland rice and allelopathy projects are also providing valuable information on genetic characterization of rice and its wild relatives and the genetics and physiology of tolerance for such constraints as drought and nematodes.

The second theme is on abiotic constraints, focusing on a strategic understanding of the dynamics of nutrients (P and N), organic matter, and soil acidity) in upland soils. The third theme covers biotic constraints, investigating the biology and management of weeds, nematodes, and blast.


Underpinning these themes is a study of the socioeconomics of the uplands, which is designed to characterize and understand the production systems and their dynamics and the impact of new technologies and policies.

The Upland Rice Research Consortium and other collaborations

The program is implemented in close partnership with NARS through the Upland Rice Research Consortium (URRC). The consortium, which has been in operation since 1991 with continued support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), and Japan, provides a framework for NARS-IRRI collaboration, and focuses on strategic issues and themes of importance to the upland ecosystem. Each partner focuses on a theme and shares outputs with others. It is important to emphasize that the partnership is an equal one, in which all share in the planning, implementing, and reporting of the research agenda.

The IRRI upland program also has linkages with:

• The Ecoregional Initiative for the Humid and Subhumid Tropics and Subtropics of Asia (ECORI), coordinated by IRRI, and the associated Soil Erosion Consortium convened by the International Board for Soil Research and Management (IBSRAM), which coordinate research on a range of issues including natural resource management, appropriate upland technology, socioeconomics, and erosion.

• The IRRI country project in Lao PDR, which is developing improved technology on such issues as germplasm adaptation and nutrient, soil, pest, and weed management. The LaoIRRI project has one full-time agronomist based in Luang Prabang working on the improvement of upland-rice-based production systems in the northern provinces.

In the uplands; the Lao-IRRI Project focuses on:

• Characterizing upland farming systems with surveysrof-farmer.practices and household economies.

• Stabilizing shifting cultivation systems through fallowimprovement.and rotation management to controierosion.;iTp.aiqtainsoilfertility"and reduce-the-labor requirement for weeding.

• Collecting, evaluating, andsefectingtraditional glutinous and.nonglutinous.upland rice varieties.

• Assessing yield lossesfrom pests and diseases and developjrtg .. appropriate IPM technologies.

• The CIA T project on Forages in Asia, headquartered at IRRI, which conducts collaborative studies on forage-crop interactions in Southeast Asia.

Germplasm Improvement

Past IRRI efforts in upland breeding have had a direct impact through varietal releases. For example, IR47686 progenies have been released in Vietnam and the Philippines and IR47684 progenies have been released in West Bengal. An IR55423 progeny is in the prerelease stage in the Philippines. IRRI has also played a pivotal role in the introduction and adoption of a range of elite African and Latin American upland rice varieties in Asia. NARS breeders have used these materials as parents in hybridization. The International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice


(INGER) reports that a wide range of varieties are used in this manner in the breeding programs of partner countries. But there is still limited adoption of improved upland rice varieties compared with the adoption of irrigated varieties. This has caused some rethinking and redirection in upland breeding efforts at IRRI since 1993.

New statistical procedures (additive main effect and multiplicative interaction model for G x E analysis, pattern analysis) and new techniques (geographic information systems) have been used to analyze the agroecological diversity of upland subecosystems and refine our understanding of target environments. This has confirmed that the ecosystem is very heterogeneous and G x E interactions in germplasm performance are strong across the major agroecological zones of Asia. This has led to a strong effort to decentralize conventional breeding activities, which are now mostly conducted by NARS. NARS have a mandate and an obvious comparative advantage in developing and releasing varieties for regional environments.

IRRI's program now focuses strongly on improving germplasm using new technologies in prebreeding to provide better genetic material and more genetic understanding to support the breeding programs of NARS. These technologies are:

• Marker-aided selection to target and use genes associated with tolerance for drought (deep and thick root system and osmotic adjustment), resistance to blast, and allelopathy.

• Physiology investigations to understand key traits associated with tolerance for drought.

• Recurrent selection to improve traits with polygenic control such as partial resistance to blast.

• Interspecific hybridization for better use of the genetic diversity present in wild Oryza species bearing the A genome.

• Participatory plant breeding to develop varieties more suited to farmer needs.

Research issues have been prioritized based on an understanding of the driving forces determining the evolution of production systems (market access and population pressure) with the major biological constraints in each system. This led to the identification of four different sets of breeding priorities (Fig. 3).

Present focus

Based on these priorities, we are focusing on the following research topics:

• Improvement of productivity and stability of varieties through incorporation of:

- drought tolerance through adapted duration, good root systems, and osmotic adjustment,

- durable blast resistance, and

- improved interference with weeds through improvement of allelopathic potential and rice



Upland rice breeding priorities


1 Intensive


Integrated rice-based

• Yield stability through

drought resistance

• Interference with weeds

• Production under low inputs

• Grain quality for local consumption


• Productivity under moderate to high inputs

• Grain quality for market

needs (aromatic and glutinous types)

Traditional slash-and-bum Low • Yield stability through drought resistance

• Interference with weeds

Extensive perennial-based

• Productivity under moderate to

high inputs

• Disease resistance-blast, bligh

• Shade tolerance

• Adaptation to acid soils

• Grain quality for market needs

Low Improved

Market access

Fig. 3. Germplasm improvement priorities in relation to market access and population. The priorities considered to be most important are in boldface.

• Ecophysiological assessment to pinpoint key traits that result in high sensitivity to water supply. Areas under investigation include root ultrastructure, vulnerability of the water transport pathway, and direct effects of water deficit on panicle sterility. The ultimate aim

is to transform upland rice, which still has most of the characteristics of an aquatic plant, into a truly aerobic crop.

• Improvement of crop value through good grain quality, defined as appropriate amylose content and aroma. Quality is essential for acceptability in a home-consumption-oriented system, as well as for maintaining price premiums paid for traditional upland varieties in some countries with market-oriented systems.

• Development of a perennial upland rice for soil erosion control in areas with steep slopes and high rainfall. This project is also leading to a better understanding of perenniality and exploitation of valuable traits from the wild species 0. longistaminata and O. ruJipogon, so far largely underused.

• Development of a participatory plant breeding program in eastern India to analyze adoption rates of improved rainfed germplasm and determine whether farmer participation at any stage of the breeding process improves adoption rates (in collaboration with the rainfed lowland program).


Drought tolerance in upland rice Significant research products

• Molecular marker analysis has allowed us to map genes controlling root morphology and other drought resistance traits in different populations. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) x environment interaction for these traits has begun to be assessed. The development of nearisogenic lines and the introgression of these QTLs into elite upland rice varieties is under way using marker-aided backcrosses. The next step will be to shift to a new generation of markers that are easier to use (PCR-based markers) so the technique of marker-aided selection can be transferred to NARS.

• The upland rice-growing environments were clustered into homogeneous subecosystems and mechanisms of tolerance useful for each were defined. The testing of mass-screening techniques for these drought-adaptive traits is continuing. Different types of managed environments for drought screening at the main phenological stages were evaluated.

Key references

Courtois B, Chaitep W, Moolsri S, SinhaPK, Trebuil G, Yadav R. 1996. Drought resistance and germplasm improvement: on-going research in the Upland Rice Consortium. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 154-175.

Yadav R, Courtois B, Huang N, McLaren G. 1997. Mapping genes controlling root morphology and root distribution in a doubled-haploid population ofrice. Theor. Appl. Genet. 94:619- 632

Courtois B, McLaren G, Prasad K, Sinha PK, Yadav R. 1998. Molecular genetics of some drought resistance traits in upland rice. Theor. Appl. Genet. (Submitted.)

Price A, Courtois B. 1998. Mapping QTLs associated with drought tolerance in rice: progress, problems and prospects. Theor. Appl. Genet. (Submitted.)

Trebuil G, Courtois B, Herrera W. 1996. Assessment of upland rice rooting depth: does the herbicide injection technique work? J. Agron. Crop Sci. 177:85-93.

Blast-pathogen virulence and host resistance Significant research products

• Genetic structure of blast pathogen populations: Molecular markers and phenotypic analysis were used to characterize blast pathogen populations and blast resistance in upland rice varieties. Large field collections of isolates of the blast pathogen have been analyzed by DNA fingerprinting, which has revealed a clonal population structure. Through greenhouse inoculation, further information was obtained about the resistance spectra of rice varieties and the virulence spectra of the pathogen lineages.

• Genetic control of blast resistance: Minor and major blast resistance genes were analyzed in three recombinant inbred mapping populations, and loci associated with complete and partial resistance were identified. Phenotypic analyses of the mapping populations were conducted across populations, years, and sites and some loci were shown to reduce disease quite consistently. Studies on yield penalties showed no evidence for an association between resistance and yield reduction.

• Strategies for better durability of blast resistance: Knowledge on pathogen lineages and genetic resistance was used to develop strategies to deploy blast resistance more effectively in the field. Multiline and variety mixtures built taking into account the lineage structure at a


given site showed less disease than random mixtures, indicating that genetic heterogeneity for disease resistance can be used to reduce blast.

• Recurrent selection for partial resistance to blast: A gene pool aimed at improving partial resistance to blast was developed. The first cycle of recurrent selection has now been completed.

Key references

Chen D, Zeigler R, Leung H, Nelson RJ. 1995. Population structure of Pyricularia grisea at two screening sites in the Philippines. Phytopathology 85:1011-1020.

Courtois B, Roumen E, Nelson R. 1995. Building a gene pool to improve partial resistance to blast of upland rice through recurrent selection. In: Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Rice Recurrent Selection, 13-17 March 1995, Goiania, Brazil. Cali (Colombia): CIAT. (In Spanish.)

Inukai T, Nelson RJ, Zeigler RS, Surapong S, Mackill DJ, Bonman JM, Takamure I, Kinoshita T. 1994. Allelism of blast resistance genes in near-isogenic lines of rice. Phytopathology 84: 1278-1283.

Mauleon RP. 1995. RFLP mapping of genes conferring resistance to blast in the rice cultivars lAC 165 and C039 across environments. MS thesis. University of the Philippines Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines.

Nelson RJ, Chen D, Mauleon RP, Inukai T, Calvero AC, Zeigler RS. 1996. Recent progress in rice blast research in the uplands. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 125-140.

Wang G, Mackill DJ, Bonman JM, McCouch SR, Nelson RJ. 1994. RFLP mapping of genes conferring complete and partial resistance to blast in a durably resistant rice cultivar. Genetics 136: 1421-1434.

Zeigler RS, Cuoc LX, Scott RP, Bernardo MA, Chen D, Valent B, Nelson RJ. 1995. The relationship between phylogeny and virulence in Pyricularia grisea in the Philippines. Phytopathology 85:443-451.

Toward a perennial upland rice Significant research products

• Interspecific crosses and embryo rescue techniques have allowed hybrids to be developed between O. sativa and the wild perennial species O. longistaminata and 0. rufipogon. Complex backcrossing has been undertaken in the greenhouse to maintain perennial traits and improve agronomic performance in the field. Populations segregating for perenniality have been developed. Mapping of these populations using RFLP, STS, and microsatellite markers and phenotyping are under way to understand the genetic control of perenniality and related traits such as the presence/absence of rhizomes and the strength of their expression. Molecular markers are being identified for marker-assisted selection.

Key references

Schmit V. 1996. Improving sustainability of the uplands through the development of a perennial upland rice. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 265-273.


Schmit V. 1997. Interspecific hybridization between O. sativa and 0. longistaminata to develop a perennial upland rice. In: Jones M, Dingkuhn M, Johnson D, Fagade S, eds. Interspecific hybridization: progress and prospects. Proceedings of the workshop: Africa! Asia Joint Research on Interspecific Hybridization between the African and Asian Rice Species (0. glaberrima and O. sativa), WARDA, Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire, 16-18 Dec 1996. p 141-158.

Nematode resistance in upland rice Significant research products

• Resistance to Meloidogyne graminicola, the most damaging rice nematode in the uplands of Asia, has been found in one accession of O. longistaminata used to develop a perennial rice. This is significant because there is no good level of resistance to this nematode known in O. sativa. Genetic control of this resistance is being assessed. The mapping populations developed to study perenniality are also segregating for nematode resistance and will be used to find markers linked with the gene(s) of resistance to M. graminicola.

Key references

Soriano I, Schmit V, Brar DS, Prot J-C and Reversat G. 1998. Resistance to rice root-knot nematode M. graminicola identified in Oryza longistaminata and 0. glaberrima. Fund. Appl. Nematol. (In review.)

Schmit V, Soriano I, Reversat G. 1998. Genetic study of resistance to root-knot nematode in rice. (In preparation.)

Genetic control of allelopathy Significant research products

• The demonstration of allelopathy in some rice varieties under laboratory conditions and a better understanding of the organization of the genetic variability for this trait have opened the way for genetic studies on its nature and control. Populations derived from crosses between allelopathic and nonallelopathic varieties are being developed through anther culture and single-seed descent to allow the assessment of genetic control using molecular markers.

Key references

Courtois B, Olofsdotter M. 1998. Breeding upland rice for allelopathic potential. In: Olofsdotter M, ed. Proceedings of the Workshop on Allelopathy in Rice, 25-27 Nov 1996. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 57-67.

Olofsdotter M, Navarez D, Moody K. 1995. Allelopathic potential in rice germplasm. Ann. Appl.

BioI. 127:543-560.

Genotype x environment interactions Significant research products

New statistical procedures for pattern analysis are being used to further define target environments, particularly in terms of abiotic stress. Additional GIS databases are becoming available to support this activity.

Key references

Courtois B, et al. 1996. Old and new tools to analyze genotype x environment interactions: impact on upland rice breeding. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice


research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 195-2 I 5.

Singh VP, Singh AN. 1996. Remote sensing and GIS based methodology for the delineation and characterization of rainfed rice environments. Int. J. Remote Sensing 17: 1377 -1390.

Resource and Crop Management Improvement:

Biotic and Abiotic Constraints

Before 1990, IRRI research on resource management in upland rice was conducted within the Farming Systems Project. Erosion control using hedgerows,the application of low rates of inputs, and the use of multiple cropping and alley cropping were the focus. Much of the work has involved rate and timing experiments with varieties, rotations, fertilizers, and weed control. This has provided useful regional crop and erosion management recommendations, but the research has not been structured to develop a strategic understanding of issues related to resource and crop management. In 1990, with the establishment of the ecosystem programs, research has been focused on developing a more basic understanding of upland processes, including nutrient cycling, soil acidity, biology of pests, and erosion. Such an understanding can underpin the development of more productive, sustainable rice-based cropping systems, and can also be relevant for the management of emerging upland systems, which have a diversity of rice and other crops. It can also provide spillover benefits for other ecosystems.

Current IRRI priorities in resource management research focus on the cropping system rather than upland rice alone, and have been framed to take into account topography, land capacity, and rainfall characteristics (Fig. 4). Of the 10.5 million ha of upland rice in Asia, it can be calculated from Garrity (1984) that about 80% (8 million ha) is on flat to moderately sloping lands «30% slope), with 4 million ha on slopes of less than 8%. In terms of rainfall, 5 million ha have a long, reliable growing season (5-12 rna), while the remaining 5.5 million ha are in the less favorable, drought-prone areas with 0-4-mo growing seasons (Garrity 1984). Most of the upland rice areas in Africa and Latin America are on flat or gently sloping land.

High priority is accorded to productivity research in the uplands where slopes are <30%, both in favorable and less favorable rainfall environments. Recent research in Thailand-in 20 farmers' fields and more broadly over three watersheds-showed that erosion risk increases with slopes above 30%, especially where there is low canopy cover «20%) and lack of surface roughness. Major issues for research are drought and nutrient supply where rainfall is low and acidity and nutrient supply where rainfall is high.

A lower priority is given to productivity research in steep, erosion-prone uplands. Obtaining high yields from annual crop-based systems on steep slopes is a near impossibility because it is difficult to apply the required high inputs. Terraced, steep lands are better suited for tree-based systems where inputs, if needed, can be target-applied to deeper soil layers. This work is being conducted by the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) and IBSRAM.


Upland resource management priorities

Favorable, erosion-prone Priority 2

High . . :

(2.5 million ha): Research spillovers ~ Soil erosion

: : Fallow, zero tillage, cover crops

~ : Perennial upland rice

~~~~ '~~~J>~'~'I~ [ ~~~~~~~;~~ . ;~~~ '~~~~~~'I~ .

Priority 1 : Priority 1

Nutrient x water interactions: Long-term nutrient supply

. Nutrient use efficiency

: Soil acidity

............................................................................. ~

Short, unreliable growing season Long, reliable growing season

(5.5 million ha) (5 million ha)





(8 million ha)

Fig. 4. Resource management research priorities by topography and rainfall reliability.

Present focus

The IRRI research program focuses on the following topics:

• Production potential of upland rice: Costs of inputs and technology may seem unaffordable to farmers based on present income levels. But limiting input treatments to suit the present income of farmers does not provide an understanding of the wide range of yield responses that are possible. IRRI's strategy is to explore the potential of sustainable high productivity and generate a range of options for farmers to achieve desired production.

• Long-term strategic studies on nutrients: Short-term seasonal studies cannot adequately address nutrient dynamics and land productivity. An understanding of processes that control nutrient supply, productivity, and sustainability requires long-term strategic studies that are now a feature of IRRI's upland research.

• Nutrient by water interactions: Drought is a major constraint to production in upland areas with less reliable rainfall and a short growing season. The main emphasis in research aimed at alleviating drought has been to improve plant traits through breeding. But research has shown that drought effects are exacerbated in the absence of proper plant nutrition. IRRI's focus in this area is to understand nutrient by water interactions and to improve plant nutrition by better formulation (controlled release) and placement of fertilizers.

• Weeds: Weeds, which are a major constraint in upland rice, are difficult to manage because, in contrast to irrigated systems, weeds and the crop emerge together and flooding is not an option for weed suppression. Weeds increase the cost of production and lower the quantity and quality of the rice produced. In most of the world's upland rice fields, weeds are controlled manually, with at least two weedings at around 20 and 40-50 d to optimize yields. Although hand weeding is effective in controlling weeds, it is extremely laborious and timeconsuming, with reports of time required varying from 30 to 165 d ha'. Weed research on


crop competitiveness, allelopathy, and weed biology aims to provide options for better weed control and to reduce the burden of hand weeding, which often falls to women.

• Nematodes: Nematodes are widespread in upland rice-based systems and are responsible for significant yield loss. Meloidogyne graminicola is a strong rice pathogen and low yields are always observed in fields where it is present in high numbers. Pratylenchus indicus and P. zeae can cause damage, but yields are less affected. These nematodes remain unnoticed by farmers even when severely constraining yields. Research has aimed at quantifying occurrence and yield losses, and investigating crop rotation and resistance in control.

Traditional upland rice

Laos, Philippines, and Thailand T. George et aI., 1997, unpublished

6-7 5-6 4-5 3-4

2-3 1-2 0-1

50 kg P ha'

6-7 5-6 4-5 3-4

2-3 1-2 0-1

No fertilizer

Elite breeding line IR55423-01 Acid soil, moderate inputs

T. George cl aI., 1997, unpublished

6-7 5-6 4-5 3-4

2-3 1-2 0-1

25-50 kg P ha'

Without P

Improved variety IPLRi-5 Acid soil, high inputs, lime T. George et aI., 1997, unpublished

6-7 5-6 4-5 3-4

2-3 1-2 0-1

o 10 20 30 40

6-7 5-6 4-5 3-4

2-3 1-2 0-1

Without P

o 10 20 30 40

Observations (no.)

6-7 5-6

4-5 3-4

2-3 1-2



o 10 20 30 40

Fig. 5. Response of traditional and improved upland rice varieties to P under traditional and favorable conditions.

Productive capacity of upland soils and production potential of upland rice Significant research products

Highly weathered acid soils of the humid uplands possess good physical properties for crop production, but severe acidity and deficiency or unavailability of nutrients, particularly P, limit crop yields. Where growing seasons are longer and reliable and slopes not too steep, these acid uplands can potentially support higher annual crop productivity when inputs, particularly lime and P, are applied. This potential productivity is illustrated in Figure 5, which presents the


frequency of upland rice yield responses to P in individual plots in different experiments involving traditional, elite, and improved varieties under various levels of inputs. Although great variation existed, adequate P supply generally increased the frequency of high yields. Under highly favorable conditions and with high inputs, many plots of improved germplasm produced 3-5 t ha-1• These results show that with appropriate genotypes, substantial yield gains are possible if nutrient and acidity problems are overcome.

Key references

George T, Roder W, Trebuil G, Van Keer K. 1996. Phosphorus limitation in rice systems of Southeast Asian acid uplands. Proceedings IV International Symposium on Plant-Soil Interactions at Low pH, 17-24 March 1996, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Reichardt W A, Dobermann A, George T. 1998. Intensification of rice production systems: opportunities and limits. In: Dowling NG, Greenfield SM, Fischer KS, eds. Sustainability of rice in the global food system. Davis, Calif. (USA): Pacific Basin Study Center, and Manila (Philippines): IRRI. (In press.)

Field-scale soil spatial variation in the uplands Significant research products

A characteristic of upland soils is their high spatial variability at the field scale. Field-scale soil variability affects overall productivity and nutrient use efficiency. Mathematical tools to help obtain and interpret such information have recently become available and we have made some progress in applying them to upland rice soils. Topsoil displacement during land clearing, burning, ash piles, tree stumps, free-standing trees, alley cropping, termite mounds, uneven fertilizer application, and other land use practices all contribute to field-scale variation. For example, studies at four upland fields in the Philippines and Indonesia showed that much of the heterogeneity of labile P was caused by site-specific factors. Knowledge of soil variability characteristics may provide a suitable basis for improved experimental design as well as for adjusting fertilizer and liming rates.

Key references

Dobermann A, George T. 1994. Field-scale soil fertility variability in acid tropical soils. In:

Trans. 15th World Congress Soil Science 5a:61 0-627.

Dobermann A, Goovaerts P, George T. 1995. Sources of soil variation in an acid Ultisol of the Philippines. Geoderma 68:173-191.

Kirk GJD, George T, Courtois B, Senadhira D. 1998. Opportunities to improve phosphorus efficiency and soil fertility in rainfed lowland and upland rice ecosystems. Field Crops Res. 56:73-92.

Subsoil acidity amelioration through anion-accompanied leaching of lime Significant research products

Studies on amelioration of subsoil acidity have investigated leaching of surface-applied calcium and the use of acid-tolerant rice varieties to help capture leached calcium in the subsoil. The degree of movement of calcium followed the mobility of the accompanying anion: calcium nitrate> calcium sulfate> calcium carbonate. Rooting depth increased in accordance with the degree of calcium movement. Significant quantities of nitrate, sorbed on soil particles, and calcium accumulated in the subsoil. Uptake of leached nitrate by roots in the subsoil probably


further enhanced calcium accumulation and the neutralization of acidity. The data set from these experiments is being used to develop models on acidity, nutrient movement, and root growth in acid soils. Calcium nitrate seems to be a useful fertilizer for acid upland soils, but it is expensive and not widely available. It may be possible to generate calcium and nitrate by applying urea and lime.

Key references

Kirk GJD, Zeigler RS. 1994. The use of adapted cultivars in acid-soil improvement. In: Trans. 15th Congress International Society Soil Science, Vol. 5a:567-578.

George T, Kirk GJD, Almendras A, Sonon L, Serohijos R, Chiatep W, Tirathon A, Khatib W, Abdullah S, Warman A, Nairn T, Magbuana R. 1997. Strategic research on soil fertility management for upland rice areas. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 231-238.

Kirk GJD, George T, Courtois B, Senadhira D. 1997. Opportunities to improve phosphorus efficiency and soil fertility in rainfed lowland and upland rice ecosystems. Field Crops Res. 56:71-90.

Fertilizer formulations and placement Significant research products

Rice grain yield responses are affected by fertilizer formulation and placement. Combinations containing urea + diammonium phosphate + potassium nitrate or calcium nitrate + monoammonium phosphate (MAP) + potassium nitrate gave higher yields than those containing ammonium sulfate + MAP + potassium sulfate because of associated differences in P solubility. We believe that fertilizer formulations can be manipulated to give greatly improved efficiencies in acidic upland soils, although manufacture and availability will remain constraints to wider use.

Key references

Hedley MJ, Kirk GJD, Santos MB. 1994. Phosphorus efficiency and the forms of soil phosphorus utilized by upland rice cultivars. Plant Soil 158:53-62.

George T, Kirk GJD, Almendras A, Sonon L, Serohijos R, Chiatep W, Tirathon A, Khatib W, Abdullah S, Warman A, Nairn T, Magbuana R. 1997. Strategic research on soil fertility management for upland rice areas. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 231-238.

Kirk GJD, George T, Courtois B, Senadhira D. 1997. Opportunities to improve phosphorus efficiency and soil fertility in rainfed lowland and upland rice ecosystems. Field Crops Res. 56:71-90.

Long-term strategic studies on nutrient dynamics Significant research products

In long-term P experiments, the dynamics of P supply in rice-legume rotations in acid upland soils is being studied in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Thailand. Applied to each crop are 0, 50, 100, 150, and 200% of the P required to maintain a critical soil test P (Mehlich P). A database on P dynamics is being assembled. Preliminary results indicate the possible importance of: (1) soil aggregation and (2) fertilizer P-induced changes in soil P pools as determinants of P


supply to crops. Results over the next few years should provide unique information on P dynamics leading to recommendations on economical P management strategies for acid tropical upland soils. Data generated are being used to develop a P decision support system.

Key references

Cassman KG, Singleton PW, Linquist BA. 1993. Input/output analysis of the cumulative soybean response to phosphorus on an ultisol. Field Crops Res. 34:23-26.

George T, Singleton PW, Cassman KG. 1994. Harnessing legume-fixed nitrogen in tropical cropping systems: upland vs lowland strategies. Trans. 15th World Congress Soil Science 4a: 263-266.

Kahindi JHP, Woomer P, George T, De Souza FM, Karanja NK, Giller KE. 1997. Agricultural intensification, soil biodiversity and ecosystem function in the tropics: the role of nitrogenfixing bacteria. Appl. Soil Ecol. 6:55-76.

Kirk GJD, George T, Courtois B, Senadhira D. 1997. Opportunities to improve phosphorus efficiency and soil fertility in rainfed lowland and upland rice ecosystems. Field Crops Res. 56:71-90.

Linquist BA, Singleton PW, Yost RS, Cassman KG. 1997. Aggregate size effects on the sorption and release of phosphorus in an ultisol. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 61: 160-166.

Sanyal SK, De Datta SK, Chan PY. 1993. Phosphate sorption-desorption behavior of some acidic soils of South and South-East Asia. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 57:937-945.

Nutrient x water interactions Significant research products

Nutrient release studies are being conducted in India and Thailand to test the hypothesis that continued access to nutrients using controlled-release polymer-coated Nand P fertilizers will enhance root growth and water uptake, thus alleviating water stress. Nitrogen stimulated root and shoot biomass and yield at both sites. Soil moisture measurements showed that N input allows wider exploitation of available water in soils with relatively low N availability. Controlledrelease urea was superior to three split applications of soluble urea in terms of N uptake, yield, and root development, indicating that continuous but low N supply can be effective in minimizing N loss into the environment, improving water and N uptake, and stabilizing rice growth.

Key references

Kondo M. 1996. Interaction of nutrient and water in upland rice with emphasis on root ecophysiology. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 141-153.

Upland rice competitiveness with weeds Significant research products

Studies on rice competitiveness with weeds suggested that: (1) there is significant variation among rice lines in weed suppression and (2) the suppressive effect is best related to leaf area and plant biomass during early growth. Plant height and tiller number, traits that are easy to measure for selection, were less related to weed suppression. Our breeding and selection research has focused on assessing leaf area and light interception in the field as criteria for selection, but


work is being continued to understand the dynamics of rice-weed competition and better correlate plant traits with competitiveness.

Key references

Garrity DP, Movillon M, Moody K. 1992. Differential weed suppression ability in upland rice cultivars. Agron. J. 84:586-591

Janiya JD, Piggin CM, Moody K. 1997. Response of competitive and noncompetitive upland rice cultivars to weed competition. In: Proceedings of the Asian Pacific Weed Conference, Malaysia, 8-12 Sept. 1997.

Roder W, Pengchanh S, Keoboulapha B. 1995. Relationship between soil, fallow period, weeds, and rice yield in slash-and-burn systems of Laos. Plant Soil 176:27-36.

Roder W, Phengchanh S, Keobulapha B. 1997. Weeds in slash-and-burn rice fields in northern Laos. Weed Res. 37(2): 111-119.

Van Keer K, Vejpas C, Trebuil G. 1995. Effect of farmers' practices on weed infestation in an upland rice-based swidden system of northern Thailand. In: Proceedings of the Second International Weed Science Conference, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, 25-27 May 1995.

Allelopathy in rice Significant research products

Allelopathic effects, measured in the laboratory as a reduction in weed seedling growth in the presence of some rice cultivar seedlings, have been found in upland rice. Laboratory screening of more than 100 upland rice varieties showed that five to eight varieties have promising allelopathic effects against Echinochloa crus-galli and/or Trianthema portulacastrum by reducing weed growth from 40% to 50%. These cultivars also showed a similar strong suppression of weeds in the field, but it has not yet been possible to separate the effects of allelopathy and competition in the field. Accessions with allelopathic potential have different origins and stages of improvement. There appears to be no strong linkage between allelopathic potential and desirable traits such as high yield, disease resistance, and other stress resistances, which indicates that efforts to incorporate allelopathy into adapted varieties to reduce the burden of weeding is worth pursuing. Future work will concentrate on the identification of allelochemicals, physiological cost of allelopathy, separation of competition and allelopathy effects, and genetic control of allelopathy.

Key references

Olofsdotter M, Navarez D, Moody K. 1995. Allelopathic potential in rice germplasm. Ann. Appl.

BioI. 127:543-560.

Olofsdotter M, Navarez D. 1996. Allelopathic rice for Echinochloa crus-galli control. In:

Proceedings of the Second International Weed Control Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark. p 1175-1181.

Olofsdotter M, Navarez D. 1996. Relay seeding technique for screening allelopathic rice. In:

Proceedings of the Second International Weed Control Congress, Copenhagen, Denmark. p 1285-1290.

Olofsdotter M, Wang D, Navarez D. 1996. Allelopathic rice for weed control. First World Congress on Allelopathy: A Science for the Future, Cadiz, Spain, 16-20 Sept. 1996.

Olofsdotter M, ed. 1998. Allelopathy in rice. Proceedings of the Allelopathy Workshop, 25-27 Nov. 1996. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. 154 p.


Olofsdotter M, Navarez D, Rebulanan M. 1997. Rice allelopathy: where are we and how far can we get? Brighton Crop Protection Conference, 1997. Vol 1:99-104.

Nematode dynamics in upland rice Significant research products

The two main nematodes of upland rice, Meloidogyne graminicola and Pratylenchus zeae, build up rapidly in continuous rice and maize crops. They can also be favored by weedy fallows, and the weed Ageratum conozoides has been shown to be a host for M. graminicola in Lao PDR. Both species share the same environment and can compete with each other, and a greenhouse study showed that P. zeae limited the development and damage of M. graminicola. Chemical treatment is effective, but neither economical nor feasible in upland rice. Crop rotation with nonhost crops is the only available control measure. The two nematodes have different host ranges, but both can be controlled using cowpea or mungbean, both nonhosts, in the rotation.

Key references

Prot J-c. 1993. Monetary value estimates of nematodes problems, research proposal and priorities: the rice example in South and Southeast Asia. Fund. Appl, Nematol. 16:385-388.

Prot J-C, Villanueva LM, Gergon EB. 1994. The potential of increased nitrogen supply to mitigate growth and yield reductions of upland rice cultivar UPLRi-5 caused by Meloidogyne graminicola. Fund. Appl. Nematol. 17:445-454.

Prot J-c. 1996. Nematode pests in upland rice production systems. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit Y, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4- 13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI.

Economic and Policy Analysis

To design technological, policy, and institutional interventions that enhance the food security of upland farmers and sustainability of upland systems, it is essential to understand how farmers adapt their livelihood strategies to population pressure, market access, institutional arrangements, and macroeconomic and sectoral policies. Through research based on economic and policy analysis, answers are being sought to questions such as: (1) Will rapid change toward systems based on cash crops expose farmers to income fluctuations and jeopardize their food security? (2) What institutional arrangements are needed to enhance food security in commercializing systems? (3) How do farmers cope with increasing population pressure and environmental degradation? (4) What institutional and policy interventions are needed to encourage adoption of sustainable land use practices?

Present focus

The Upland Rice Research Program currently focuses on examining livelihood strategies of upland farmers and changes in land use at the farm level. We are doing a comparative analysis of the economics of upland rice systems over a range of biophysical and socioeconomic environments.

Research priorities for upland systems Significant research products

A broad-level typology of upland rice systems has been developed based on population density and market access (Fig. I). Based on the typology, the potential role of upland rice in various


systems was defined and research priorities were evaluated. The broader technical and policy interventions needed to enhance food security and sustainability were also diagnosed.

Key references

Pandey S. 1996. Socioeconomic context and priorities for strategic research in Asian upland rice ecosystems. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. p 103-124.

Importance of market access Significant research products

The results to date indicate that market access is of critical importance in meeting the shortfall in food production in adverse years. In a microeconomic study in northern Vietnam, farmers in a district with better access to markets were able to maintain their food supply by selling livestock--even though their rice production was lower than for those in a district with poorer market access. In the Hazaribagh district of eastern India, farmers with better market access were able to obtain additional income, which they used to buy food, by selling home garden products such as vegetables.

Key references

Pandey S, Minh DV. 1998 A socio-economic analysis of rice production systems in the uplands of northern Vietnam. Agric. Ecosys. Environ. (Forthcoming.)

Comparative analysis of upland systems Significant research products

The diversification of economic activity, reliance on a social safety net, and exploitation of common property resources such as forests and common grazing areas are important livelihood strategies of upland farmers. Although these traditional mechanisms may have been effective in ensuring food security under low population pressure, natural population growth and policyinduced migration to upland areas have reduced their effectiveness. The impact of policy-induced changes in the uplands of northern Vietnam is being documented and the results to date indicate that well-intentioned policies often had a negative effect because the working of the household economy was insufficiently understood. For example, restriction of access to land that is part of the rotational fallow system has often forced farmers to move upslope to clear new land. Similarly, attempts to sedentarize shifting cultivators have often failed because of insufficient institutional support. The detailed characterization and analysis of upland systems being undertaken in Vietnam and, earlier, in Thailand could provide a rational basis for policy and institutional reforms.

Key references

Thong-Ngam C, Shinawatra B, Healy S, Trebuil G. 1995. Farmers' resources management and decision-making in the context of changes in the Thai highlands. Proceedings of the Regional Symposium on Montane Mainland Southeast Asia in Transition, 12-17 Nov. 1995, Chiang Mai, Thailand. p 462-487.

Trebuil G, Kam SP, Van Keer K, Swinawatra B, Turkelboom F. 1995. Systems approaches at field, farm and watershed levels in diversifying upland agroecosystems: towards


comprehensive solutions to farmers' problems. In: Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Systems Approaches for Agricultural Development (SAAD 2), 6-8 Dec. 1995. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. 32 p.

Pandey S, Minh DV. 1997. A socio-economic analysis of rice production systems in the uplands of northern Vietnam. Agric. Ecosys. Environ. (Forthcoming.)

Analysis of soil conservation strategies Significant research products

The analysis of the adoption of soil conservation technologies in sloping uplands was undertaken in the Philippines and Thailand. Results from the Philippines highlight the critical importance of institutional and policy factors in encouraging adoption. Market access was again found to be a critical factor. The adoption of contour hedgerows for soil conservation in the Philippine uplands is more widespread in areas that have better market access. Farmers in such areas are more commercially oriented and consider investment in soil conservation economically more profitable than do subsistence farmers. Population density was found to be another important factor, with farmers in low-population density areas lacking incentives for adopting conservation practices because their mode of production is predominantly extensive. Similarly, farmers whose land tenure is insecure lacked incentives for investing in soil conservation. A cost-benefit analysis of contour hedgerows indicated that the cost of adoption for resource-poor farmers is still high because contour hedgerows require a lot of labor to establish and maintain, and also reduce the farm area by about 20%. This shows the need to design economically more efficient conservation practices.

Key references

Fujisaka S, Mercado A, Garrity DP. 1995. Farmer adaptation and adoption of contour hedgerows for soil conservation. In: Kang BT, Osiname AO, Larbi A, eds. Alley farming research and development. Ibadan (Nigeria): UTA. p 547-555.

Turkelboom F, Trebuil G, Vejpas C. 1995. Starting from the farmers' fields: on-farm analysis and development of conservation strategies for steep land. In: Sombatpanit S, Zobich MA, Saunders DW, Cook MG, eds. Soil conservation extension: from concepts to adoption. Soil and Water Conservation Society of Thailand.

Trebuil G, Turkelboom F, Thong-Ngam C, Kam SP. 1996. Impact of farming systems diversification on erosion and highland agroecosystem sustainability in northern Thailand. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Soil Erosion and Sustainable Development of Steep Lands (Slope '96), 17-21 June, Kunming, China.

Turkelboom F, Trebuil G, Cool D, Peersman I, Vejpas C. 1996. Land-use dynamics and soil erosion in the hills of northern Thailand. In: Proceedings of the 9th International Soil Conservation Conference (lSCOP9), 26-30 Aug., Bonn, Germany.

Cenas P, Pandey S. 1997. Determinants of adoption and retention of contour hedgerows in Claveria, Misamis Oriental. Philip. J. Crop Sci. (In press.)

Lapar L, Pandey S. 1997. A microeconomic analysis of adoption of soil conservation in the Philippine uplands. In: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference of Agricultural Economists, Sacramento, California.

Lapar L, Pandey S. 1997. Estimating the productivity effects of soil conservation in the Philippine uplands. In: Proceedings of the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, 27-30 July, Toronto, Canada.


Pandey S, Lapar L, Waibel H. 1997. Factors affecting the adoption of soil conservation practices: some implications for sustainability. International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture for Food Energy and Industry, 22-28 June 1997, Braunschweig, Germany.

Pandey S, Lapar L. 1998. A microanalysis of adoption of contour hedgerows in the Philippine uplands. In: Penning de Vries F, Angus J, Kerr J, eds. Soil erosion at multiple scales: principles and methods for assessing causes and impacts. CABI and IBSRAM.

Interactions in the Upland Program

IRRI collaborates with a range of NARS, international agricultural research centers, and advanced research organizations (AROs) in the conduct of research. These are listed below.

The Upland Rice Research Consortium: NARS-IRRI collaboration

The Upland Rice Research Consortium (URRC), funded by the ADB, GTZ, and Japan since 1991, provides a framework for IRRI-NARS collaboration on strategic issues in upland rice research in both traditional and improved systems. Phase 3 (1997-99) is being supported by BMZ/GTZ. Research collaboration focuses on strong upland rice research and development (R & D) institutions in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, and the Philippines in Asia and Brazil in Latin America.

The consortium approach is based on the conviction that problems of unfavorable rice ecosystems can best be addressed through partnerships between national and international scientists. Constraints to productivity and sustainability in the heterogeneous uplands present special problems, and are difficult to overcome because of considerable spatial and temporal variability. In comparison, the relatively homogeneous irrigated ecosystem provides a more characteristic and identifiable constant at which R&D can be directed. In the uplands, localized technology refinement and verification are ultimately necessary to solve local problems, but technology generation requires a solid foundation of strategic research.

Most national rice research groups are well situated to address local problems, and have made progress in increasing their resources and capacity to conduct regional research. Because of the number of constraints, however, it is not easy for single research groups to adequately address all constraints. The identification of strategic research topics that address major constraints and the capacity to interact in international partnerships are also constrained for most national groups. IRRI has capacity in a wide range of scientific disciplines, new research tools to address complex problems, and a mandate to work internationally together with NARS groups.

The URRC provides a unique mechanism, and essential intellectual and funding support, to facilitate strategic international research collaboration among NARS, IRRI, and AROs. The Consortium provides many NARS scientists from remote locations with a unique opportunity to develop a more strategic focus in their research, and to interact internationally. Much of the research described earlier is conducted under the URRC umbrella. Annual activities and outputs include:

• About 50 collaborative experiments to address major upland issues and constraints.

• Some 20 visits by IRRI scientists to NARS partners for research interaction.

• Production of around 30 joint conference papers, project reports, and journal publications.


• Three to four major meetings/workshops organized and attended by NARS/IRRI scientists.

• Participation of around 10 NARS scientists in overseas training.


The Upland Rice Research Program will continue to address the major constraints in upland systems and conduct research to develop better adapted germplasm and a better basic understanding of socioeconomic, biotic, and abiotic processes. Research outcomes will be used to promote the development of more sustainable and productive rice-based cropping systems.

The program is now soundly focused. More understanding of the socioeconomic dynamics of the uplands has led us to give priority to the dominant integrated rice-based systems and the perennial-based systems, which together cover some 85% of Asian upland rice area (Fig. 1). In germplasm improvement, we are developing yield stability in rice by enhancing drought resistance and weed suppressiveness for subsistence systems, and enhancing responsiveness to moderate-high inputs and resistance to blast disease for improved cash-based systems (Fig. 3). In resource management, we are developing better nutrient, weed, and nematode management technologies for favorable areas where slopes are low and/or rainfall is reliable (Fig. 4).

The availability of new research technologies in ecosystem and genetic characterization, the use of molecular biology in germplasm improvement and pest and disease characterization, and a long-term approach to understanding the dynamics of nutrients, weeds, pests, and diseases is expected to enable significant gains to be made in the different agroecological environments of the uplands.

We are encouraging the decentralization of conventional breeding activities to NARS partners, because regional institutes have a mandate and an obvious comparative advantage for developing and releasing varieties for regional environments. Farmer participation in breeding and selection programs is being evaluated because we believe that this will encourage better outcomes and adoption. IRRI's breeding program now focuses strongly on using new technologies in prebreeding to provide better genetic material and more genetic understanding to support the breeding programs of NARS.

Resource management research is developing a more basic understanding of upland processes, including nutrient cycling, soil acidity, biology of pests, and erosion. Such an understanding is underpinning the development of more productive, sustainable rice-based cropping systems, and is also relevant for the management of other emerging upland systems that have a diversity of rice and other crops. This research also provides spillover benefits for other ecosystems.

Economic and policy analysis research will continue to investigate technological, policy, and institutional interventions that enhance food security of upland farmers and sustainability of upland systems, to understand how farmers adapt their livelihood strategies to population pressure, market access, institutional arrangements, and macroeconomic and sectoral policies.

The URRC provides a strong framework to facilitate collaborative NARS-IRRI research and institution building in Asia and, through Brazil, in Latin America. Others can learn from the


Latin American experience. The Brazilian production system for upland rice now focuses on favorable areas, with the use of inputs such as supplementary irrigation, fertilizers, and chemical weed and disease control. Farmers are achieving yields of more than 5 t ha-l and profitability of around $500 ha-l. We expect that the strategic approach outlined above and now adopted in the Upland Rice Research Program can help in focusing the crop toward more productive and sustainable systems and locations, to provide real benefits to both subsistence and marketoriented villagers of the uplands in the developing world.

Collaboration in the Upland Rice Research Program NARS partners

Bangladesh Brazil






Myanmar Thailand


Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), Gazipur

Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria (EMBRAPA); Centro Nacional de Pesquisa de Arroz e Feijao (CNPAF), Goiania, Goias

Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (Y AAS); Food Crops Research Institute (FCRI), Kunming, Yunnan

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); Central Rainfed/Upland Rice Research Station (CRURRS), Hazaribag, Bihar

Central Research Institute for Food Crops (CRIFC) and Center for Agricultural Socio-Economics Research (CASER); Sukarami Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology (SAIAT), West Sumatra

Department of Agriculture and Extension, National Rice Research Program, Luang Prabang

Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhiIRice), Visayas State College of Agriculture (ViSCA), Leyte; University of Southern Mindanao (USM), Cotobato; International Rice Research Institute CIRRI), Los Banos, Laguna

Department of Agriculture (Ban Yin Central Farm, Heho Central Farm), Yangon Department of Agriculture; Ph rae Rice Research Institute; Samoeng and San Patong Experimental Station; Mae Jo University, Chiang Mai

Vietnam Farming Systems Network, University of Cantho; Agro-Forestry Research and Development Center for the Northern Mountainous Zone, College of Agriculture and Forestry, Thai Nguyen University, Bac Thai

Advanced research organization partners

CIRAD (Centre de cooperation internationale en recherche agronomique pour le developpement), France (germplasm improvement, erosion, cropping systems) National University of Agro-Environmental Sciences, Tokyo, Japan (nutrition)

ORSTOM (Institut francais de recherche scientifique pour Ie developpement en cooperation), France (upland rice production systems, nematodes)

Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark (allelopathy)

Texas Technical University, USA (root penetration and osmotic adjustment) Tokyo University, Japan (drought tolerance and controlled-release fertilizers) University of Arkansas, USA (allelopathy)

University of Hanover, Germany (socioeconomics of uplands) University of Hawaii, USA (soil acidity and nutrients)

University of Wales, UK (genetic control of root systems and drought resistance)


International agricultural research center partners

CIAT (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical), Colombia (forage rotations, farmer participatory breeding, germplasm improvement)

IBSRAM (International Board for Soil Research and Management), Thailand (soil erosion consortium)

ICRAF (International Centre for Research in Agroforestry), Kenya (slash and bum initiative) WARDA (West Africa Rice Development Association), Cote d'Ivoire (germplasm improvement)


Arraudeau M. 1994. A commented international upland rice genetic survey. IRRI Upland Program Report, March 1994. Manila (Philippines): IRRI.

Fan S, Hazell P. 1997. Should India invest more in less-favored areas? Environment and Production Technology Division Discussion Paper No. 25. Washington, D.C. (USA):

International Food Policy Research Institute.

Garrity DP. 1984. Asian upland rice environments. In: An overview of upland rice research.

IRRI, Philippines. p 161-183.

IRRI (International Rice Research Institute). 1993. IRRI Rice almanac. Manila (Philippines):

IRRI. 142 p.

IRRI (International Rice Research Institute). 1997. Rice almanac. IRRI, WARDA, CIAT. Manila (Philippines): IRRI.

Pandey S. 1996. Socioeconomic context and priorities for strategic research in Asian upland rice ecosystems. In: Piggin C, Courtois B, Schmit V, eds. Upland rice research in partnership. Proceedings of the URRC Workshop, 4-13 Jan 1996, Padang, Indonesia. Manila (Philippines): IRRI. pl03-124.

Roder W, Pengchanh S, Keoboulapha B. 1995. Relationship between soil, fallow period, weeds, and rice yield in slash-and-burn systems of Laos. Plant Soil 176:27-36.

Widawsky D, O'Toole I'C. 1990. Prioritizing the rice biotechnology research agenda for eastern India. New York (USA): The Rockefeller Foundation.


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