USING ALTERNATE WET & DRY
This brief describes the ‘Alternate Wet and Dry Irrigation (AWDI)’ technique
that can be used to cultivate rice using less water
Rice is one of the leading food crops in the world
and is reported to feed nearly half of the world’s
population. Rice grows best in the abundant water
environment and this differentiates rice from
other important crops. There are four generally
recognized cultivation practices: irrigated, flood-
prone, rainfall lowland and upland. Paddy (or
irrigated) rice growing is the most common
approach and uses continuously flooded field.
However, water resources are becoming
increasingly scarce. Industrial and urban
demands are increasing in addition to the
agriculture demands. Therefore, it is essential to
develop and adopt practices and strategies that
will use water efficiently in irrigation schemes,
especially in countries with the higher rice
demand, low rice yields and competition for
limited water resources. There is a growing
interest in finding better ways to grow rice with
One such strategy referred to as ‘alternate wet-dry
irrigation’ (AWDI) is increasingly being used in
the parts of Asia. The AWDI of rice cultivation
uses water efficiently (or increases water use
efficiency in irrigation schemes).
Figure 1: Setting alternative wetting and
drying (AWD) pipe in a rice field.
Photo credit: Zul Mukhida / Practical Action.
Rice cultivation using alternate wet and
dry irrigation (AWDI)
In the recent years, this practice has shown that it is possible to reduce consumption of water
without yield loss. In addition to the water saving potential, there are other benefits of AWDI such
as improved irrigation efficiency, great effects on the soil nutrients, aeration and microclimatic
condition and potential human health benefits (E.g. producing more rice with less water could
reduce vector-borne disease outbreaks, traditionally associated with rice cultivation), cost savings
(as a result of reduced irrigation cost) and reducing energy crisis.
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