Aerobic rice is a production system where rice is grown in well-drained, non-puddled, and non-saturated soils. Water requirements can be lowered by reducing water losses due to seepage, percolation, and evaporation.
Promising technologies include saturated soil culture and intermittent irrigation during the growing period. However, these technologies still use prolonged periods of flooding, so water losses remain high.
A fundamentally different approach is to grow rice like an upland crop, such as wheat, on nonflooded aerobic soils, thereby eliminating continuous seepage and percolation. This also reduces evaporation. Traditional upland rice has been bred for the unfavorable uplands to give a stable, though low, yield with minimal external inputs.
Previous experiments of growing high-yielding lowland rice under aerobic conditions have shown great potential to save water but it has severe yield penalty. A new type of rice is needed to achieve high yields under high-input aerobic conditions.