Dates active: December 2014 - May 2016
Water and nitrogen management play vital roles in rice production. However, the mismanagement of these two management practices may trigger sheath blight of rice, caused by Rhizoctonia solani, which is favored by wet conditions, high relative humidity, and high nitrogen fertilizer levels. To understand how different combinations of water and nitrogen management affect sheath blight epidemics, we conducted two separate split–plot experiments with a water saving (alternate wetting and drying) regime and a traditional puddled regime combined with differing nitrogen treatments in the dry seasons of 2015 and 2016. Disease was scored using the same methodology in both experiments using a sheath blight assessment scale for field evaluation developed at the International Rice Research Institute to assess the severity on infected sheaths and leaves while sheath blight incidence on tillers were counted per hill. We were unable to detect any difference in the incidence of tiller sheath blight due to irrigation, tiller and leaf sheath blight did clearly differ statistically by irrigation treatment, but leaf sheath blight severity did not. Our findings indicate that farmers can adopt water saving technologies without risking increased sheath blight incidence. We suggest that further cross–disciplinary research in this area is warranted.