Rice Extension Newsletter March 2019

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Rice Extension Newsletter | March 2018

Welcome to the March edition of the Rice Extension newsletter. It is an exciting time of year when the headers enter the rice crops and the rewards of your planning, management and hard work come to fruition. It is also an exciting time at Rice Extension as we welcome the new Extension Officers on board. Harriet Brickhill, Murrumbidgee and Charleton Glenn, Murray, recently commenced their positions and you can read more about them later in the newsletter.
Good luck to everyone with harvest and we hope you reap the rewards. Don’t forget to share harvest images with us through Twitter or Facebook @RiceExtension.

Articles this month:

  • Annual Rice industry Field Day

  • Growing wheat straight after Rice

  • SunRice Grower Services Harvest Update

  • Is Rice$cenario a tool for me?

  • Alternative Rice Stubble Management this Harvest

  • Stubble burning this Autumn

  • Meet the new Extension Officers

  • Mapping rice for better crops and product

  • IREC Autumn Newsletter is out now

Upcoming events: 
Wednesday 10th April, 9am - 3pm
Farm 66, Channel Nine Rd, Coleambally, NSW 2707
Demo Day includes: John Deere S780 Harvester & Shelbourne 32ft Stripper Front
BBQ lunch and refreshments provided

Monday 20th & Tuesday 21st May 2019 (Postponed from 1-2 April)
Free SMARTtrain chemical application (Level 3) course, Wakool
For people that use pesticides with powered and hand-held application equipment.
Contact Kellie Gorong on 02 6951 2775 or email kellie.gorong@dpi.nsw.gov.au
You must register 21 days prior to attending to enable qualification for funding.
Application form can be found here.

Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd August
RGA Conference and 2019 Rice Industry Awards Dinner, Corowa, NSW

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A large crowd of 250 growers, researchers, undergraduate students and industry stakeholders attended the 2019 Industry Field day. The interactive and informative day offered attendees insight into the rice industry for 2019 and beyond, with presentations, field walks and networking opportunities focused on the theme ‘Connecting rice growers with the future’. Given the current growing conditions, the event provided an opportune environment to enjoy the industry social networks and community as can be seen in the photo gallery below.

Program highlights included an update from SunRice, presentation on ‘the importance of Australian rice to the Asian market’ from Asian food distributors Ettason’s, and an introduction to the Sustainable Rice Platform.

The concurrent afternoon sessions offered the option of a field walk to learn the latest on NDRE imaging and weed management in drill sown rice with the new herbicide Agixa. The alternative session was at the homestead focussing on health and wellness with well-known dietitian and SunRice Ambassador Lyndi Cohen, The Nude Nutritionist.

The SunRice Grower of the Year Award was launched as part of the 2019 Rice Industry Awards and growers and industry stakeholders are encouraged to put forward a nomination, or tap others on the shoulder to get involved.

To finish the day, a BBQ dinner at the historic “Old Coree” homestead offered attendees a chance to socialise and hear from guest speaker John Harper from ‘Mate Helping Mate’, who talked about the self-help program addressing mental health and wellbeing in rural communities. 

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Growing wheat after rice improves the productivity of a farm and lifts the Gross Margin per hectare (Ha) by utilising the residual moisture in the soil from the rice crop. The return per Megalitre (ML) is key to maximising profitability when doing gross margin budgets in years with low water availability such as 2019. Below is a summary of two papers on budgeting and managing risk when aiming for high yielding wheat after rice.

Water and nitrogen budgeting: Before sowing it is important to set your target yields and do a budget for your water and nitrogen needs to maximise the return on your investment and know your risk. Brian Dunn (2013), Research Agronomist, NSW Department of Primary Industries researched the irrigation and nitrogen requirements of wheat after rice and the results are here.
The key points are:

  • Two spring irrigations achieved the highest grain yield (8 t/ha) and gross margin ($1309/ha) in this experiment but it will vary between years depending on winter and spring rainfall.

  • A wheat crop grown after rice requires high levels of fertiliser - maximum grain yield and protein were achieved with 175 kg/ha DAP sown with the seed and 435 kg/ha urea top-dressed in a split application at mid-tillering and early flowering.

  • Wheat following rice can be a very profitable crop provided the field layout (drainage) is good, the rice stubble is removed early and the crop is established before the weather gets cold and possibly wet.

Recommendations for growing wheat after rice:
Some growers have avoided sowing cereals into rice stubbles due to the lack of success. In fact Sam North, Research Hydrologist, NSW Department of Primary Industries found in 2016 only 32% of growers regularly grew wheat directly after rice. This was the catalyst for the GRDC funded project Soils under an irrigated environment. As a result of this project Sam has compiled a list of do’s and don’ts after talking to successful growers and looking at research trials. The full list of recommendations can be found here, and the key points are:

Sow early and lift sowing rates
Sow as soon as possible after Anzac Day and before any significant rainfall. Sowing into a warmer soil will have better establishment and tillering than a cool wet soil. Sowing rates should also be lifted to account for poorer establishment on rice ground as can be seen in Table 1.

Ensure good surface drainage
The best rice paddocks often have the worst internal drainage and the small rice area planted this year means that there may not be of a paddock choice. However, paddocks that have good surface drainage to remove excess winter rainfall is key in ensuring a higher and more reliable yield for wheat after rice.

Table 2. Estimated crop nitrogen demand at range of grain yields for wheat sown after rice assuming 11.5% grain protein and nitrogen use efficiency of 50%.
Source: Primefact Growing Wheat straight after rice

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Table 1. Sowing rate required to achieve a target yield for wheat sown after rice (assuming a seed weight of 40g/1000 grains, 2.5 tillers per plant and 60% establishment).
Source: Primefact Growing Wheat straight after rice

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Provide adequate nutrition
Phosphorous can become tied up following rice drainage. It is typically recommended that 4kg of P is required for 1t of wheat, however, this should be lifted to 5kg of P when sowing into rice stubble.

There is also little to no nitrogen remaining in the soil after rice and mineralisation is minimal in cool wet soils which means that high levels of top-dressing with urea is needed to reach the targeted nitrogen requirements for the target yield as can be seen in Table 2.

SunRice Grower Services Harvest Update

A few showers of rain ranging from a few spits to around 10mm, and high grain moistures stopped harvest over the weekend. Less than 20% of growers have started harvest with a few more aiming to kick off this week in the north – with the south getting itchy to start! Grain delivery moistures to date have been excellent, growers obviously nailing that drainage decision. Heat sterility doesn’t appear to have been a significant factor so far with the earlier crops more likely to have been affected. Good luck to those looking to start, if any queries don’t hesitate to contact Grower Services on 1800 654 557.

Growers are reminded to refer to the Harvest App or call your weigh-bridge supervisor for opening and closing times.

Keep up to date during harvest by installing the Harvest App. Type the following web address into your browser http://harvestinformation.sunrice.com.au/

Is Rice$cenario a tool for me?

This season continues to be a challenging one and decisions need to be made on a rolling basis.

For example in the Murray Irrigation Limited irrigation scheme irrigators have the opportunity to participate in in a Sustainability Irrigation program which involves irrigators tendering for water at a discounted price of $328/ML. How much do you buy, is that price profitable in my program? To assist in making decisions like this Rice Extension has developed Rice$cenario.

Rice$cenario is a simple to use budgeting tool that helps irrigators understand irrigation needs, costs and gross margins, so that they can determine the most productive use of water in their farming business. A tool that can help you plan and make more informed decisions particularly around irrigation. 353 unique users have used Rice$cenario since its inception.

For further information and a video of how to use Rice$cenario go to https://riceextension.org.au/ricecenario  or contact one of the Rice Extension Team.


Alternative Rice Stubble Management this Harvest

With the ongoing drought, the shortage of fodder and the high cost of feed grains, rice stubble is being used as a component of livestock feeding programs. Rice straw has a low in nutritive value and needs to be fed with caution. With around 10 ton per hectare of straw left in the paddock after harvest the current straw market can provide significant additional income from this season’s rice crop.

Baled straw feed value can be improved with the addition of molasses and urea to the diet. During past droughts rice stubble has been wrapped and gassed to raise protein levels. Crude protein levels have been increased from 5% to 10% with the addition of urea or anhydrous ammonia.

Rachel Whitworth prepared a Rice Note on the use of rice straw and silage in 2003. This can be viewed here


Stubble Burning this Autumn

Burning stubble is an important tool to enable the establishment of the next crop in the rice farming system.  However it is important that all farmers implement BEST PRACTICE when burning stubble to ensure this practice is available long into the future. Further information can be found here .

Best practice stubble burning includes:

  1. Contacting the RFS to notify them of your intention to burn.

  2. Contacting your neighbours.

  3. Ensuring adequate fire breaks are in place to avoid fire escapes and protect paddock trees

  4. Ensuring equipment is on site.

  5. Burning as close as possible to the middle of the day so that burning can be completed before nightfall when an inversion layer )low mixing height) is likely.

  6. Checking the 'mixing height' information in the MetEye section of the Bureau of Meteorology's website. This provides excellent information on current and predicted burning conditions including wind speed and direction.

  7. Burning dry stubble; mulching and leaving to dry for at least 4 days in warm conditions will create a cleaner burn and reduce the volume of smoke. If stubble is not mulched the drying time will be longer and burning should be delayed accordingly.

  8. Avoiding burning when winds are variable i.e. when winds are gusting and varying in direction. Wind speeds of 5 to 25 km/hr are best. Strong winds can lead to fire escapes.

  9. Avoiding burning when the wind direction is towards towns or other residential areas. This will reduce the chance of affecting others, including the likelihood of human respiratory problems.

If the wind direction changes sending smoke over roads call 000 immediately. They will refer the call to the local authorities who will advise of what action to take.

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Charleton Glenn - Murray Valley
0455 558 035

Harriet Brickhill - Murrumbidgee Valley
0419 790 019

Harriet originates from Griffith, and has spent the last two years working as an agronomist for Yenda Producers Cooperative servicing both dryland and irrigated growers.

Harriet graduated from Charles Sturt University in Wagga with Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) in 2016. In her honours year she looked at the physiology and yield determination of canola. She has also spent time working in Laos looking at double cropping options after rice as part of the New Colombo Plan.

Harriet recently attended the RGA ‘Introduction to the Rice Industry’ leadership course facilitated by Rice Extension and is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities in her new role. Harriet enjoys spending time outdoors and recently completed the Larapinta trail in central Australia.

Charleton grew up on a mixed farming enterprise (livestock and rice) near Moulamein. She has been working as an agronomist on both dryland and irrigated, winter and summer crops for the last three year at Swan Hill Chemicals. Charleton graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Agriculture majoring in Sustainable Production in 2015.

She has also recently completed her Masters in Communications through Charles Sturt University, with a specific focus on the role of social media and digital platforms in agriculture. In her spare time she enjoys water skiing and being outdoors. Charleton is looking forward to joining the Rice Extension team and working in the rice industry. 

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SunRice Grower Services, MapRice GIS is a secure, flexible mapping and data recording system that has benefits for the grower, industry and SunRice. It allows individual rice growers greater visibility of aspects of on farm operations as well as location specific information. A grower can map and view their farm, order and confirm seed plantings, record operations, predict PI and view deliveries and appraisals.  It is also instrumental in the analysis, accountability and planning of rice production by SunRice.  


In the nexr 12-18 months growers can expect to see a number of new developments of MapRice GIS, such as:

  • The ability to import and export information from Agworld, Proagrica SST and Back Paddock and other on farm management tools

  • Integration with BoM weather data

  • Mobile app

  • Benchmarking

Read the full article in the latest IREC farmer's newsletter here.

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An interesting article in the Autumn 2019 IREC newsletter was by Sam North and Alex Shultz, NSW Department of Primary Industries on Identifying Hard Soil Problems in the Riverina. They found in just over 85% of sites they investigated hard soils would inhibit root growth at a water potential of -35kPa, well short of the recommended irrigation trigger point of - 60kPa.

The latest IREC Farmers newsletter is now available and includes lots of interesting articles on Rice as well as other summer crops and can be read on line here.