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Cycle 6 (2017 Deadline)

Ecosystem services in a changing climate: assessing critical services in Bangladesh rice production landscapes

PI: Md Panna Ali,, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI)
U.S. Partner: Douglas A. Landis, Michigan State University
Project dates: December 2017 - November 2020

Project Overview:

 6-10 Panna research area
 Study research area
Rice contributes more than 80% of the total food supply in Bangladesh, including 76% of daily caloric intake and 66% of total protein requirements (Brolley 2015; Bhuiyan et al. 2002). The coastal region of Bangladesh, which covers 20% of the country and more than 30% of the cultivable land and contributes 16% of the total rice production, is the most vulnerable region to climate change (Minar et al. 2013). Moreover, due to increasingly variable rainfall leading to a reduction in freshwater flows, about 53% of the coastal areas are experiencing salinity intrusions that restrict crop production (Rahman 2012). As a consequence, rice productivity in this area is 70% lower than the national average. In this project, Dr. Ali and his colleagues will quantify the potential impacts of changing conditions on ecosystem services by quantitatively determining the impact of climate variability on the provision of four key ecosystem services: carbon sequestration, pest suppression, water supply, and rice production. They will use spatially explicit models to project future patterns of terrestrial ecosystems and the production and values of ecosystem services. The scientific understanding of the links between climate, ecosystems, and economic value is still unknown or poorly developed for Bangladesh. Therefore, this collaborative research effort involving U.S. experts focused on developing models and estimating the impacts of changing conditions on ecosystem services in Bangladesh will be an important tool for reversing current and future losses in the economic value of Bangladesh’s natural ecosystems.

The area where the project will be conducted is characterized by lower rice productivity due to limited ecosystem services. Therefore, identification of the ecosystem services that induce lower rice production and those that are predicted to be most vulnerable to environmental change in the future is a critical component of enhancing productivity in the region. In this project, the research team will analyze environmental impacts on crop production systems and suggest appropriate coping strategies and adaptation options for improving coastal agriculture, both for increased agricultural production and for better livelihoods for the vulnerable farming community. As a whole, this project will not only provide the scientific community with evidence to overcome anecdotal information, a hindrance to effective ecosystem service monitoring and management, but also aid sustainable ecosystem management implementation and policy interventions.

Project updates:

6-10_Panna Ali field6-10 Jan-Mar 2019 qtly Ali
Collection of data of bio-control agents and salinity level in project sites has been ongoing. The team conducted an experiment on the extent to which pest control services in rice fields are altered by climate change. The team collected data of bio-control agents from 60 locations of two project sites and recorded natural pests using sweep net. Twenty complete sweepings were conducted to record natural pests in two ecosystems including saline and non-saline. Significantly, higher numbers of natural pests including spiders, lady bird beetles, carabid beetles, dragon flies, damsel flies, green mirid bugs and parasitoid wasps were observed in non-saline ecosystems as opposed to saline ecosystems. The team also installed solar power-operated light trap to track bio-control service providers in saline and non-saline ecosystems. Numbers of bio-control agents captured in solar light trap were continuously monitored. Moreover, the team conducted field experiments with artificial inoculation in field condition. The team introduced insect pests and its eggs in six places (9 hills/place) of a rice field. Two gravid brown plant hoppers were introduced in each area. Three places areas were covered by nylon mesh net, and three were kept in the open so that the introduced plant hopper and its eggs can be exposed to natural enemies. Fields were monitored every alternative day and to be continued up to crop harvest.
6-10 Panna Ali publication
The team also worked on enhancing multiple ecosystem services in rice landscape using ecological engineering techniques. Three plots in Sathkhira region were selected to for this study. Plots consisted of whole fields  separated in all four directions by a buffer zone consisting of a rice field that was managed according to routine farming practices. All fields grew the commercial indica mega rice varieties BRRI dhan47. Following conventional crop management, 30-40-day-old rice seedlings were manually transplanted into fields at a density of two-three seedlings per hill with hills 20 × 20 cm apart with fertilizer and irrigation subsequently applied. The entire perimeter of each field planted with flowering plants, marigold, sunflower, cosmos and sesame on the bordering earthen bunds and without flower plant border and insecticide use as per routine farmer practices. The nectar rich flowering plants on rice bund provides ample food and shelter for multiplication of biocontrol agents that check build up abnormal development of pest’s number that cause grain yield losses. Number of predators, parasitoids and parasitism rate increased significantly in ecoengineering plot when compared to insecticide treated or control plots. Moreover, significant lower number of principal insect pests and damaged symptom found in a plot where flowering plants grown on bund. This study indicates that manipulating the habitat in rice landscape to provide nectar sources, alternative prey and refuges for natural enemies which enhance biocontrol service in rice field and cut insecticide use in crop field.

   Dissemination of climate smart rice variety in climate susceptible area continued. Yields of crops are drastically reduced when the threshold value for tolerance is crossed. More than 50% of the potential yields of most crops are reduced when the salinity (EC) is above 5 dS m-1. However, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute has developed varieties that can tolerate salinity level up to 8.0 dS m-1. These varieties are called climate smart rice variety. In this season (Boro season 2018-19) the team conducted field demonstration of BRRI dhan47 in six farmers field at salinity elevated area. Other farmer farmers in this area can see the performance of climate smart rice variety and can be encouraged to grow in the next season.  The project team also conducted a survey to identify fresh water source in salinity-elevated area in Potuakhali and successfully conducted an experiment to supply fresh water to the field to grow rice.  

One of the milestones of the most recent reporting period has been publication of the report Establishing next-generation pest control services in rice fields: eco-agriculture in Nature Scientific Journal July 15, 2019.

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