Towards more sustainable management in rice cultivation

An initiative that brings together three countries with the purpose of obtain an efficient and competitive production with a lower environmental impact under the implementation of AWD technology in two levels (moderate and intensive) in rice crops.

Context of the story

Family growers (less than 10 hectares) in Colombia, Chile and Peru, whose livelihoods are based on rice production currently face a variety of challenges, one of the most pressing is the increase in climate variability and the consequent decrease in water availability during certain stages of the crop. On the other hand, the conventional practice of continuous flooding during cultivation results in rice systems that have a negative environmental consequences, not only because of the excessive use of water in the field, but also by the increased emissions of gases such as methane (CH4), which are related to the greenhouse effect.

How to reduce gas emissions and conserve water resources?

The implemented initiative

Through the project more rice with less emissions, the development of a technological innovation is proposed through small farmers will be able to maintain and even increase their yield, taking into account climate change mitigation, natural resource management and sustainability in the rice cultivation. Under these premises, the study is looking for locally validation to the implementation of Alternate Irrigation Technology - AWD, at two moderate and intensive levels generating benefits like a efficient and competitive production with a lower environmental impact under the, in rice crops on smallholder farms. from Colombia, Peru and Chile. This work is financed with resources provided by the IDB through the FONTAGRO platform and with recourse in Colombia of the National Federation of Rice FEDEARROZ, in Peru of the Universidad Agraria la Molina and in Chile by the Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA ). Under the regional cooperation initiative, it is proposed to transfer the practices and technologies that are generated as a result of the project.

A sustainable technological proposal

The technological solution

The practice of intermittent irrigation management, applying technologies to alternate humidity and drying (Alternate Wetting Drying AWD), can increase the efficiency of water use and at the same time reduce methane emissions without affecting performance. Within the framework of this project, three different localities are evaluated, Saldaña in Colombia, Ferreñafe in Peru and Parral in Chile. In the selected farms, experimental plots were established during the first two years, contrasting conventional irrigation management (control) with two AWD alternatives (AW1 humidity drop at 5cm and AWD 2 at 10cm). In each study site it has been possible to generate two indicator cycles: production (constant yield), environmental impacts (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) and efficiency in the use of resources on the farm (reduction of water consumption) . For the 2021 year, validation areas will be established on a commercial scale with the technological advances found during the first phase of the study.

“We would like to learn water saving practices, it is a valuable resource for all of us, it is practically the main input of the crop”
Blanca Perdomo de Portela “Doña Blanquita”

Participating countries

Type of project


- Regarding GHG, there are dissimilar results between countries, treatments and evaluation cycles. For Colombia, there were reductions between 68% and 100% of the accumulated net flows of CH4 and of 3% and 100% in the accumulated net flows of N2O, except in the third cycle where due to the permanent rain conditions there was no decrease ; Chile presented a decrease in methane between 16% and 37% and 8% to 26% in N2O. In the case of Peru, a methane reduction of 37.8% was obtained up to 93% and an increase in the emission of N2O.
- There were differences in the reduction in water use with respect to the control: in Colombia, it was between 18% and 42%, in Chile between 3.5% and 28.9%, and in Peru between 15% and 23%
- Regarding performance, different results have been found in the evaluated localities, showing in general terms that there are no statistically significant differences.
-13 events have been held with 1,553 participants

Relevant data

Rice Yield under AWD technology aplication

Water consumption savings
Water consumption savings
Participants in transfer events
Participants in transfer events
Methane decrease
Methane decrease
nitrous oxide decrease
nitrous oxide decrease

Participating Organizations

International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) - Colombia
FEDEARROZ - Colombia
FLAR - Colombia
GRA - Sub-Grupo América Investigación en Arroz Irrigado  (GRA-PRRG) - Uruguay
Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) - Chile
Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM) - Perú

Main donors