Irrigated rice cultivation has long been associated with large amounts of water. Currently convectional rice production is faced with major challenges of water shortage as a result of increasing population sharing the same water resources, as well as global environmental changes. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI), as opposed to conventional rice production, involves alternate wetting and drying (AWD) of rice fields. The objective of this study was to determine the optimum drying days period of paddy fields that has a positive effect on rice yields and the corresponding water saving. The experimental design used was randomized complete block design (RCBD). Four treatments and the conventional rice irrigation method were used. The treatments were the dry days allowed after draining the paddy under SRI before flooding again. These were set as 0, 4, 8, 12 and 16 day-intervals. Yield parameters were monitored during the growth period of the crop where a number of tillers, panicles, panicle length and panicle filling were monitored. Amount of water utilized for crop growth for each treatment was measured. Average yield and corresponding water saving were determined for each treatment. The results obtained show that the 8 days drying period gave the highest yield of 7.13 tons/ha compared with the conventional method of growing rice which gave a yield of 4.87 tons/ha. This was an increase of 46.4% above the conventional method of growing rice. Water saving associated with this drying regime was 32.4%. This was taken as evidence that SRI improved yields with reduction in water use.
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