Increasing rice production on acidic soils in Malaysia

June 20, 2014
MR 219 paddy variety which was used by the researchers to study the effectiveness of adding lime on acidic soils to boost rice production. Credit: Namanegara (Wikimedia Commons

Adding lime is a cost-effective means of increasing rice production on marginal acidic soils, according to a study published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science. The study examined the effects of applying lime from various sources on an acid sulphate soil in Merbok, Malaysia.

Rice is a staple food for Malaysians. With global demand for increasing, Malaysia needs to become more self-sufficient in . However, with fertile land in short supply, farmers may need to increase their rice production on land that was previously idle and less fertile, such as the acid sulphate soils that occur along Malaysia's coastal plains.

Marked with high acidity (soil pH< 3.5), acid sulphate soils contain high levels of aluminium (Al). Under normal circumstances, they are not suitable for crop production. Major agronomic problems common to these soils include Al toxicity, decreased availability of phosphorus, nutrient deficiencies and iron toxicity.

In the study, Shamshuddin Jusop and colleagues at the Universiti Putra Malaysia treated an acid sulphate paddy with ground magnesium limestone (GML), hydrated lime and liquid lime. Prior to the treatments, the pH of water from the rice field was 3.7 and the Al concentration was 878 μM. Rice plants grown under these conditions would normally suffer from acid and aluminium stress, thus retarding and/or minimizing rice growth and yield.

For their experiment, the researchers tested paddy variety MR 219 – the most common variety grown in Malaysia. In the first season, were affected by drought while in the second, they were infested with rice blast fungus. Despite this, the rice yield was 3.5 tons (t) per hectare, or almost as much as the average national yield of 3.8 t per hectare. This was achieved by applying 4 tons of GML per hectare, at a cost of US$382. Since one ton of rice sold at the market price of US$318, "the yield obtained is worth the effort and cost," the authors conclude.

Explore further: 'Miracle rice' finding proves we can never stop rice breeding

More information: The report titled "Increasing Rice Production Using Different Lime Sources on an Acid Sulphate Soil in Malaysia" is available online: www.pertanika.upm.edu.my/Pertanika%20PAPERS/JTAS%20Vol.%2037%20%282%29%20May.%202014/04%20Page%20223%20to%20248%20%28JTAS%200494-2013%29.pdf

Related Stories

Salt-tolerant rice bred at Philippines institute

April 16, 2013

Scientists have successfully bred a rice variety that is salt-tolerant, which could enable farmers to reclaim coastal areas rendered useless by sea water, a Philippine-based institute said Tuesday.

Scientists discover wonder rice gene

December 3, 2013

Scientists have discovered a wonder rice gene that could dramatically increase yields of one of the world's most important food crops, the International Rice Research Institute said Tuesday.

Aluminum tolerance fix could open arable land

April 30, 2014

(Phys.org) —With as much as 40 percent of the world's potentially arable land unusable due to aluminum toxicity, a solution may be near: Cornell agricultural scientists report that a gene – and the protein it expresses ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.