Overuse of fertilizer is detrimental to the sustainability of crop production from an economic and environmental perspective. While rice side-deep fertilization technology can significantly improve fertilizer utilization efficiency, improve crop yield and reduce environmental pollution caused by improper use of fertilizer compared with conventional fertilization methods. Therefore, side-deep fertilization technology has an important role in the sustainable development of agriculture. This article describes fertilizer selection, side-deep fertilization devices and the effects of side-deep fertilization technology on rice plants and soil. We summarize the types and characteristics of side-deep fertilizers and their ratios and modes. The basic principles and characteristics of the key components of mechanical fertilization devices are described in detail, including fertilizer discharging devices (rotating disc type, outer groove wheel type, screw type), fertilizer conveying devices (pneumatic, mechanical forced type) and sensors. The effects and mechanisms of side-deep fertilization on rice growth, yield, quality, fertilizer utilization efficiency and soil microorganisms are summarized. Finally, based on current research on side-deep fertilization, future directions are identified to aid the development of this promising technology.