Rice Intensification

In Vietnam as elsewhere, farmers use urea fertilizer to provide nitrogen to their rice plants.

The usual method of application is to broadcast granules of urea over fields periodically during the crop cycle. The process is very inefficient; more than 40% of fertilizer is lost to aeration and run-off, damaging soil and water without benefiting rice crops.

With the support of the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), IDE has field-tested and adapted a technology that compacts urea granules into small single-application pellets. Instead of throwing them onto the field, farmers plant the pellets beneath the soil next to the rice seedlings. In contrast to conventional broadcasting, urea deep placement (UDP) technology delivers a smaller amount of fertilizer directly to the roots of crops, which not only reduces leaching of urea into the environment, but also results in stronger, more pest-resistant plants and greater yields.

After adapting and testing UDP technology alongside farmers in 110 field trials over three rice crops, IDE launched a project to make the technique available to large numbers of farmers. After only two years, IDE’s improved fertilizer project has motivated more than 700 farmers across four provinces – including 200 in poor, minority upland districts – to purchase compressed fertilizer pellets and adopt fertilizer deep placement. These farmers have increased their incomes by increasing rice yields while reducing fertilizer costs, and significantly reduced the run-off of fertilizer into local water sources.

With support from East Meets West Foundation and the Local Environment Fund, IDE is building and supporting the local private sector – pellet producers and village-based retailers and promoters – which is creating demand for the technology through rural marketing campaigns conducted with IDE and local government assistance.

The rapid adoption of compressed urea pellets is good news for both the farmers and the environment. IDE’s trials show that the technology reduces the quantity of fertilizer used by 35%, while increasing rice yields by 15 – 20%. Replicating this experience on a countrywide scale could potentially lead to an increase in rice production worth nearly $500 million and an offsetting of half a million tons of fertilizer that would otherwise have leached to the environment.


Whilst IDE is a non-profit organization, its projects are implemented through profitable and sustainable small and micro enterprises, growing with the trend of economic liberalization in Vietnam

International Development Enterprises

No. 22, Lane 178, Thai Ha St., Hanoi
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