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rice paddy
Rice Transplanting in the Tai Lake Region of China
Overview Farmers transplant paddy rice to increase the growing period for winter crops and reduce irrigation.
Scale field, subsistence farm, local region
Location Tai Lake Region, Jiangsu & Zhejiang Provinces, China (31N, 120E)
Elevation -2 to 10 meters
Climate Moderate Continental Forest, mild winters (Cfa - G.T. Trewartha)
Agricultural Region Intensive Subsistence Tillage, Rice Dominant - (E)
Population Density >100 persons / square kilometer
Principal Crops Rice (Oryza sativa), Wheat (Triticum aestivum), Rapeseed (Brassica napus), Mulberry (Morus alba), Soybean (Glycine max), Bok Choy (Brassica chinensis), Chinese Milk Vetch (Astragalus sinicus).
Domestic Animals Pigs, Goats, Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Domestic Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella, others), Domestic Silkworm (Bombyx mori), Water Buffalo.
Soils Paddy soils based on alluvial loess (Entisols, Udifluvents)
Natural Vegetation Broadleaf Deciduous (D)
Ecoregion Humid Subtropical Province (H7)
Basic Principles addressed Conserve Resources, Adjust to Local Environments, Diversify, Manage Whole Systems.
Page Author and Date Erle Ellis



For more than one thousand years, China's farmers have transplanted paddy rice. In this example from the Tai Lake Region, rice is transplanted to aid in double cropping late season japonica rice with wheat or other winter crop. Traditionally, rice transplants are grown within a small part of each rice paddy field (about 10% in area) which was also used to grow Chinese milk vetch as green manure to make "oufei" compost for rice fertilizer. The milk vetch matured early and was harvested before flooding, tilling and seeding the transplant beds. The rest of the paddy area was used to grow wheat, rapeseed or barley, which gained about one month extra growth time in this area, increasing yields significantly. Now, rice transplants are usually grown in specialized rice transplanting areas of villages, so that irrigation can be managed more efficiently. Milk vetch is rarely grown in these systems now.  

lessons learned

Rice transplanting enables double and triple cropping of rice and winter crops and saves irrigation water by limiting flood irrigation to small transplant areas for a full month. Rice transplanting is very labor intensive. Mechanized rice transplanting is now possible, but is considered costly and inefficient in the Tai Lake Region, though this may be changing. Transplanted paddy rice generally has much higher yields than direct seeded rice, but this may change as direct seeding technologies are improved. Methods for dry cropping rice transplants may further increase irrigation efficiency in rice transplanting systems. 

principles illustrated

Conserve Resources

By growing rice transplants in a small transplanting area for more than one month, irrigation water is conserved relative to flooding the entire paddy area.

Adjust to Local Environments

Rice transplanting facilitates double and triple cropping of winter crops with rice, matching cropping patterns to climate limitations.


Rice transplanting facilitates crop rotation.

Manage Whole Systems

Rice transplanting increases efficiency in managing land across the farm.  




Please click here for pictures of rice transplanting.