IRRI and the General Directorate of Agriculture collaborate to promote precision direct seeding for rice in Cambodia

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To scale mechanized direct-seeded rice (mDSR) to increase farming efficiency and reducing carbon footprint in rice production in Cambodia, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), in collaboration with the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA), organized a training workshop and field demonstration on mDSR at the GDA Station in Kampong Speu province, Cambodia on December 1, 2023. The training furthers the mDSR work under the CGIAR Initiative on Excellence in Agronomy (EiA) in Cambodia.

There has been prior work on mechanized direct seeding in Cambodia, but there is also recognition that the current mechanization status needs to be updated. As a response to these challenges, IRRI and its partners have developed precision seeding, operated as line or hill seeding and can be combined with fertilizer deep placement, in Vietnam. This can significantly reduce agronomic inputs such as seed rate (at 50-60kg/ha), as well as fertilizer and pesticide use. In addition, mDSR substantially reduces the risk of lodging of rice plants during harvest, thereby reducing losses.

To adapt and promote precision mDSR technology, IRRI and GDA conducted a training workshop combined with a field demonstration, which was attended by 60 participants. The training was co-organized with the Rice Crop Department and the Department of Agricultural Engineering of GDA. Various private sector partners, and engineers from the Royal University of Agriculture, Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, joined as well as extension parters from the Preydoa GDA Station, and Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Kann Salorn, Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Engineering under GDA outlined the issues that Cambodian rice farmers confront with the transition from manual transplanting to broadcast direct seeding, such as labor shortages, high seed rates, mechanization, weed and pest losses, and lodging. He anticipated learning from the new type of line-direct seeding machine and emphasized the lessons from Vietnam to harness a promising approach to address agricultural challenges.

The mDSR field demonstration, facilitated by the experts of IRRI Vietnam and Tu Sang company, brought a comprehensive program, including brief instructions on the components and operation of the machine. The mDSR operation demonstrated precise line-seeding and reduced the seed rate by 50-70% compared to traditional methods. The attendees expressed their interest and appreciation of the training and field demonstration, that can help local manufacturers improve their mDSR technologies, and farmers improve farming practices.

Local officials expressed the suitability of this precision mDSR seeding in Cambodian agriculture. The recommended next steps include conducting various field trials in rice-producing provinces, such as Battambang and Takeo, to validate the efficiency and benefits of mDSR comparison over conventional farming practices.

This work is part of the CGIAR Initiatives on Excellence in Agronomy and Asian Mega-Deltas. We would like to acknowledge Binh Dien Fertilizer Company for supporting this activity.

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