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Field Crops Research
Vol. 198, 2016, Pages: 148–159

Promoting resilience in Cambodian lowland rice ecosystems—Farming system research to support flexible climate response strategies for smallholder farmers ?

N.P. Dalgliesh, P. Charlesworth, L. Lonh, P.L. Poulton

CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Toowoomba, Qld, Australia.


With high levels of seasonal climatic variability impacting on the consistency of rice production in Cambodian rainfed, lowland systems, there is a need to identify strategies that improve farmer food security and better meet national domestic and export demands. While there is a substantial gap between actual and potential rice yield, little research has been undertaken in Cambodia to improve rainfed rice agronomy or the efficiency of use of natural resources which, in a climate constrained environment can hold the key to better productivity and food security.

On-station and on-farm research, in combination with farming systems simulation and social research provide the capacity to evaluate cropping options through the lens of climate variability. The testing of technologies and strategies, including the use of modern, short and medium duration varieties, opportunistic timing of crop establishment, mechanisation, supplementary irrigation and improved agronomic practice has shown that there is potential to mitigate the effects of variable climate on farm productivity and household income. However, this requires an increased level of farmer/systems flexibility to allow for near to real-time changes in cropping response to observed seasonal conditions. These factors differentiate this research and provide the opportunities to improve the individuals’ livelihood and in meeting national rice production targets.

Keywords: Climate change; Seasonal climate variability; Response farming; Farming systems model.

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