Agronomic and economic evaluation of Sesbania rostrata green manure establishment in irrigated rice

Research on crop establishment methods may improve green manure performance, reduce costs, and increase the adaptability of pre-rice green manure technology in lowland rice-based cropping systems. A two-season field experiment was conducted at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Bafios, Philippines in 1991-1992 to compare four establishment practices of Sesbania rostrata green manure (zero tillage, with tillage, relay cropping in rice for 2 or 4 weeks) with four mineral N fertilizer levels (0, 30, 60, and 90 kg urea N/ha) in an intensive irrigated lowland system with three rice crops per year. S. rostrata was grown twice a year during the 43-day dry-wet and wet-dry transition periods between the wet and dry season rice crops. Grain yield potential and fertilizer responsiveness of rice was generally highest in the dry season. On the other hand, S. rostrata growth was more vigorous in the wet season (long-day period) than in the dry season, regardless of establishment method. Green manure N accumulation was lowest with zero tillage-( 30 and 90 kg N /ha in dry and wet season, respectively) and highest when it was relay-cropped for two weeks (60 and 180 kg N/ha in dry and wet season, respectively). Land preparation for Sesbania ensured best green manure stand ( > 100 plants/m2 vs_20-40 plants/m2 at no-till establishments) but increased costs of green manuring by US$16/ha compared with other establishment methods. A quadratic response function between mineral fertilizer equivalence and green manure N indicated that up to 75 kg N/ha, lowland rice uses green manure N more efficiently than urea. Depending on season and establishment method, S. rostrata substituted for 35 to 90 kg of split-applied urea N. Benefit\-cost ratios indicated that pre-rice-green manure use in the wet season under the current fertilizer and labor prices in the Philippines was a less attractive economic option than mineral N fertilizer. This was true for allestablishment methods. In the dry season, S. rostrata established by relay cropping gave the highest rate of return. The 2-week relay cropping of green manure with irrigated rice gave highest green manure N accumulation and rice grain yield, and may be economically viable where fertilizer prices are higher or labor costs are lower than in the Philippines.

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 Record created 2005-01-05, last modified 2018-01-24

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