Agricultural innovation and sustainable development: A case study of rice–wheat cropping systems in South Asia

Aman Ullah, Ahmad Nawaz, Muhammad Farooq, Kadambot H.M. Siddique*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The rice–wheat cropping system is the main food bowl in Asia, feeding billions across the globe. However, the productivity and long-term sustainability of this system are threatened by stagnant crop yields and greenhouse gas emissions from flooded rice production. The negative environmental consequences of excessive nitrogen fertilizer use are further exacerbating the situation, along with the high labor and water requirements of transplanted rice. Residue burning in rice has also severe environmental concerns. Under these circumstances, many farmers in South Asia have shifted from transplanted rice to direct-seeded rice and reported water and labor savings and reduced methane emissions. There is a need for opting the precision agriculture techniques for the sustainable management of nutrients. Allelopathic crops could be useful in the rotation for weed management, the major yield-reducing factor in direct-seeded rice. Legume incorporation might be a viable option for improving soil health. As governments in South Asia have imposed a strict ban on the burning of rice residues, the use of rice-specific harvesters might be a pragmatic option to manage rice residues with yield and premium advantage. However, the soil/climatic conditions and farmer socio-economic conditions must be considered while promoting these technologies in ricewheat system in South Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1965
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2 2021


  • Direct seeding
  • Nitrogen
  • Rice–wheat cropping system
  • South Asia
  • Water requirements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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