Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon presented a study on water and soil management using climate-wise farming techniques that can help farmers adapt to climate change and increase their rice yields at the same time.
Sakhon said field demonstrations using climate-wise agricultural techniques for the management of water and soil proved their effectiveness for improving yields on rice crops.
He added that the techniques were successfully applied on farms in Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampong Chhnang and Battambang provinces where the standard rice crop planted was the Phkar Romduol cultivar and the fast-ripening alternative was the Sen Pidor variety.
“The purpose of field demonstrations is to enable farmers to verify the effectiveness of these techniques and to compare yields on rice fields practising submerged irrigating and cultivating techniques as opposed to the conventional cultivation techniques,” he said.
He added that during the field demonstration process, the department showed farmers how to prepare and level the soil, choose their plants, manage and save water and measure water levels in their fields as climate change mitigation measures.
In addition, the rice fields at each demonstration location made use of natural fertilisers and compost to improve the soil quality and help retain soil moisture in order to better withstand drought.
“The selection of the right locations to practise climate-wise farming techniques was necessary for the demonstrations so we identified areas vulnerable to climate change threats like droughts, floods and unusual or increased numbers of pests,” he explained.
For many years, the Department of Agricultural Land Management under the General Department of Agriculture has had the core responsibility for strengthening the capacity of farmers and other stakeholders in the area of water and soil management as a practical response to climate change.
Some of the department’s field demonstrations involved the application of alternate wetting and drying techniques on rice crops in climate change-affected areas.
Seng Vang, head of the agricultural land department, said the technology would assist with climate change adaptation and could reduce water demands by 16 to 35 per cent without any decrease in yield. It would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming rice such as methane by an estimated 30 to 48 per cent.
“Through direct practice on farmers’ fields, we’ve determined that the harvest is generally between 2.75 and 4.70 tonnes per hectare depending on the type of soil. The average yields are 3.59 tonnes per hectare.
“Overall, our observations of rice yields cultivated using different techniques showed that the practice of alternate wetting and drying increased rice yields from 150kg to 350kg per hectare compared to farmers who did not practise this technique,” he said.