Farmers, researchers and policy-makers are increasingly concerned about the potential impacts of climate change. Researchers are using various climate models to assess the impacts and identifying relevant alternative adaptation strategies to mitigate climate change. In India, rice is the major cereal crop grown and is influenced due to climate change and variability, inadequate water supply, labour shortage and methane emissions from rice ecosystems. This necessitates adoption action and upscaling of key adaption strategies like direct seeded rice (DSR) using validated data from rice growing areas in India. The study used experimental data of 2010–2014 and field survey data of DSR and non-DSR farmers collected during 2014. Results show that DSR method has incurred less tillage and labour costs by eluding puddling and transplantation by labour. Large-scale adoption of DSR was observed during 2012–2015 in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. This was mainly due to the delayed monsoon and water supply, reduction in cost of cultivation, capacity building of stakeholders and their active involvement in awareness and training programmes. The study has demonstrated that integrated extension approach in technology dissemination and scaling-out through stakeholder integration is crucial. However, a mission mode framework is needed for technology upscaling at system level.