Enhancing rice production during climate change in Malaysia

September 1, 2015
Rice field in Malaysia. Credit: Wikimedia

A Malaysian rice variety gives higher yields with less fertilizer compared to two other varieties grown in Southeast Asia. This could be key to increasing food security in times of climate change, according to a recent analysis published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science (JTAS).

Rice is the most common grain in Malaysia, both in production and . Malaysia's , however, accounts for only a fraction of total yields in Asia – approximately 0.4% in 2011 – according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This is partly due to the limited land available for growing the crop and because the country does not produce its maximum potential yield, according to the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

Demand for rice is growing in an increasingly challenging environment as the consequences of and global population growth continue to unfold. An increased application of nitrogen fertiliser could enhance rice yields to some extent, but this is not economical as the researchers point out. What's more, nitrogen does not improve the plant's tolerance to uncertain climatic conditions.

As an important nutrient for plants, increased levels of nitrogen are normally thought to lead to increases in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light into energy for growing.

In a JTAS research paper, Tiara Herman and colleagues from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus found that a Malaysian rice variety called MR253 showed higher levels of photosynthesis when it was given less nitrogen compared to two other Southeast Asian rice types. This indicates that MR253 has a more efficient mechanism of nitrogen absorption and distribution than the other varieties.

The researchers argue that optimising the photosynthetic mechanism of the Malaysian rice would result in higher yields, without increasing fertiliser usage. They add that the MR253 variety may have a lower susceptibility to intense lights, considering that it needs less nitrogen than other rice varieties to photosynthesise.

Herman's team concludes that by reducing the amount of fertiliser and making the crop's photosynthesis more efficient, this could offer a sustainable solution to enhance Malaysia's food supply in unpredictable conditions.

Explore further: Increasing rice production on acidic soils in Malaysia

More information: The papers are available online: www.pertanika.upm.edu.my/Pertanika%20PAPERS/JTAS%20Vol.%2038%20(3)%20Aug.%202015/02%20JTAS%200670-2014%20(Short%20Comm).pdf

Related Stories

Increasing rice production on acidic soils in Malaysia

June 20, 2014

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 ...

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.

Scientists find new research models to study food crops

July 10, 2015

Farmers often are required to apply nitrogen fertilizers to their crops to maintain quality and improve yields. Worldwide, farmers used more than 100 million tons of nitrogen in 2011, according to the United Nations Food ...

Recommended for you

How Frankenstein saved humankind from probable extinction

October 28, 2016

Frankenstein as we know him, the grotesque monster that was created through a weird science experiment, is actually a nameless Creature created by scientist Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, "Frankenstein." ...

Closer look reveals tubule structure of endoplasmic reticulum

October 28, 2016

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. has used high-resolution imaging techniques to get a closer look at the endoplasmic reticulum (ET), a cellular organelle, and in so doing, has found that its structure ...

Computer model is 'crystal ball' for E. coli bacteria

October 28, 2016

It's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, and even more so when they involve the reactions of living cells—huge numbers of genes, proteins and enzymes, embedded in complex pathways and feedback loops. ...


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.