Optimizing System of Rice Intensification Parameters Using Aquacrop Model for Increasing Water Productivity and Water Use Efficiency on Rice Production in Tanzania

Zacharia Katambara, Frederick C. Kahimba, Winfred B. Mbungu, Paul Reuben, Muyenjwa Maugo, Fikiri D. Mhenga, Henry F. Mahoo


Producing more rice while using less water is among the calls in water scarce regions so as to feed the growing population and cope with the changing climate. Among the suitable techniques towards this achievement is the use of system of rice intensification (SRI), which has been reported as an approach that uses less water and has high water productivity and water use efficiency. Despite its promising results, the use of SRI practice in Tanzania is limited due to less knowledge with regard to transplanting age, plant spacing, minimum soil moisture to be allowed for irrigation, and alternate wetting and drying interval for various geographical locations. The AquaCrop crop water productivity model, which is capable of simulating crop water requirements and yield for a given parameter set, was used to identify suitable SRI parameters for Mkindo area in Morogoro Region, Tanzania. Using no stress condition on soil fertility, plant spacings ranging from 5 cm to 50 cm were evaluated. Results suggest that the yield and biomass produced per ha increase with decreasing spacing from 50 cm to 20 cm. Preliminary field results suggest that the optimum spacing is round 25 cm. However, the model structure does not take into consideration number of tillers produced. As such, the study calls for incorporation of the tillering processes into AquaCrop model.

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