Diversity beats disease in the rice field

    | March 11, 2013

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    Diversity on the farm is a theme in two of this week’s stories, and in this script from 2001. The script was inspired by agricultural research in China which showed that, by transplanting two different varieties of rice into the same hole – one variety resistant to disease and the other not resistant  Chinese farmers were able to stop using fungicides to control a serious disease within two years. Similar results have been found in other farming experiments over the years.

    This week’s script is a fictional drama which illustrates the idea that diversity in the field reduces the incidence of disease. It’s important to note that, while this principle is broadly true, it must be carefully applied. For example, in this case, simply selecting any two varieties of rice would not necessarily provide protection against disease. But by carefully selecting varieties and crops with the help of expert farmers, extension agents, and other knowledgeable people, farmers can see a reduced incidence of pest and diseases and lower costs of production.