Drip irrigation for rice is changing the rules of the game

The 5,000 year old assumption that rice grows best anaerobically is now being challenged. Rice grown with drip irrigation not only outproduces conventional paddy rice, but also uses 70% less water, diminishes methane emissions to almost zero, and reduces arsenic uptake by up to 90%.

Why choose drip irrigation for rice?

  • Rice plants actually prefer drip irrigation
    Rice has the extraordinary ability to grow in anaerobic conditions. But, like most other grains, its optimal environment is actually aerobic. For thousands of years, farmers successfully leveraged paddy cultivation’s unique environment to maximize both irrigation and weed control advantages. Today, however, both herbicide and irrigation technology have evolved, eliminating the advantages of anaerobic cultivation and positioning rice plants to flourish with precision irrigation. 
  • Higher profits
    Switching to drip increases yields by up to 50%, reaching up to 12 tons/ha. With drip, you can also grow more than one crop cycle in rotation, making better use of every hectare.
  • Healthier, more marketable rice
    With paddy farming, rice roots are submerged, consuming heavy metals and skyrocketing the presence of arsenic within the grain, which is a significant health hazard. With drip irrigation, rice roots are not submerged, reducing arsenic uptake by 90%.

Conserve resources and save the planet

  • Water efficiency
    Producing a ton of rice in a paddy system will consume 5,000 cubic meter (m3) of water. Alternatively, that same ton grown with drip irrigation will need only 1,500 cubic meter (m3). Drip eliminates evaporation, run-off and percolation.
  • Huge environmental impact
    Paddy rice cultivation generates 20% of methane gas emissions worldwide. If only 10% of paddy rice farmers switch to drip, the drop in emissions will be equivalent to taking 40 million cars off the road.


Netafim is now a proud member of SRP -  Sustainable Rice Platform

Co-convened by UN Environment and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)The Sustainable Rice Platform is a multi-stakeholder alliance comprising over 100 institutional members. SRP promotes resource-use efficiency and climate change resilience in rice systems – both on-farm and throughout value chains by developing sustainable production standards, indicators, incentive mechanisms and outreach mechanisms to boost wide-scale adoption of sustainable best practices in rice production. By promoting a shift to drip-irrigated rice, Netafim supports rice sector transformation towards a sustainable future.

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Things we often get asked:

  • Can I increase my rice yield with drip irrigation?

    Yes! With precision irrigation, you can reach a yield of 8 -12 tons/ha – a 50% production increase over production with flood irrigation.

  • How much water can I save by using drip irrigation?

    With drip, you can use up to 70% less water than traditional flood irrigation requires.

  • Can I grow rice in sloping terrains?

    Again, yes! Pressure-compensated dripper lines deliver the precise amount of water required, regardless of pressure changes due to elevation shifts. There is a flexible diaphragm within the emitter which regulates the water flow, guaranteeing no flow variation across the entire field.

  • Without flooding, how can I control weeds?

    Just like when growing any other crop, there are recommended herbicides, ideal times for applications, and mechanical cultivation practices that farmers can easily follow to maximize weed control in aerobic conditions. Drip irrigation also gives farmers easier access to fields for pest and disease control.

  • Can I grow other crops with the same drip system?

    Yes, absolutely. Drip irrigation allows you to rotate several crops on your land, including vegetables like tomatoes or onions, or open field crops including soybeans or corn. Growing legumes in the same field will also improve your soil’s fertility.

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Are you ready to break the conventional rules on rice farming?

Are you ready to break the conventional rules on rice farming?

It’s time to grow profitable, safe, healthy and environmentally friendly rice.

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