Posts in Economics
Rice Straw Utilisation - Value adding and alternative uses for the Australian Rice Industry (2015)

The Australian Rice industry produces some of the highest crop yields in the world. As a result, the by-product of this is a significant stubble load, which is difficult to manage.  Additionally, the silica content of Australian rice straw is significantly higher than most around the world. The current practices of burning stubble to allow a double cropping rotation are not likely to continue too much further into the foreseeable future due to environmental constraints and changes in policy. Few alternatives of stubble management are practised within the Australian Rice Growing industry, therefore, a ban on stubble burning could severely jeopardise the viability of the industry. Throughout the world, rice growers are addressing the problem of stubble load with methods that eliminate the stubble load problem as well as value add and create additional revenue streams from a ‘waste’ product. These methods include:  Biomass plants, Biogas plants, Strawlage as a stockfeed source, Erosion control, Composting, Mulching for high value crops such as mushrooms, Building products and High value raw materials.

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Rice Extension on the New Grower Services Web Portal for SunRice (2014)

Access to the RICE EXTENSION TAB will be for all growers who will have a login, and also to Advisors, non-SunRice growers, researchers who will need to be set up with a login password access. This group are an important link for future extension to be successful.

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Improving rice water use efficiency - Direct Drilling of rice and Precision Farming (June 2014)


Water use efficiency is a driving factor for the Australian rice industry. Australian rice farmers grow rice in one of the driest continents in the world, achieving some of the world’s highest yields per hectare and water use efficiency per kilogram produced (Dunn & Pal Singh, 2013). In recent years, the availability of water for agricultural production has been reduced significantly as a result of government policy. Australian rice farmers are also under constant scrutiny to justify their water usage, so need to develop new technologies and practices. Historically Australia is one of the few countries to establish a rice crop by flying rice seed into a flooded bay. The majority of the countries visited establish their crops by drilling seed into the soil and establish by flushing. In Australia, this technique could be more broadly adopted with significant savings in water use and input costs.

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Streamlining the development of new cold tolerance rice varieties - RIRDC Project USC-6A (2007)

As rice growers know all to well, cold temperatures damage the developing pollen, causing grain sterility and lower crop yields. Yield reductions of more than 1 t/ha, due to low temperatures, occur about one year in four (on average) and cost the Australian rice industry around $50–60 million, depending on the year. Improvements in cold tolerance of rice will have significant economic benefits to the industry, as rice production could be increased and the capacity for a more stable supply of rice would secure current and future markets.  Cold temperatures during the rice growing season can result in significant yield loss and significant income loss to the industry.  The deep water required on the rice field throughout the cold sensitive early microspore stage of pollen development, would not be necessary with cold tolerant rice.  The use of molecular markers to identify the genetics behind cold tolerance are being investigated.  The current methods used to investigate cold tolerance rely on selecting the appropriate time to expose crops to cold, which can be difficult.

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Primefact: Rice production using groundwater (September 2007)

This Primefact sheets covers the use of ground water usage on rice. The sheet indicates the effects of water quality on rice production. It covers areas such as salinity effects on plants, effects of salinity on different rice varieties, water management plans, monitoring water quality and the impact of water quality on infiltration.

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Beds in bays increase profitatbility in rice farms (2006)

This IREC Farmers Newsletter article reports on an economic analysis that was conducted to determine the financial benefits available to rice growers who use permanent lateral raised bed layouts (beds in bays). The results of a benefit cost analysis show that the adoption of beds in bays is potentially more profitable than adoption of several other irrigation designs for rice-based farming systems. The analysis also suggests that beds in bays are viable in their own right from a financial perspective. The article outlines a description of economic analysis, benefits cost analysis and net present values, gross margin analysis, developing gross margins for study, benefits and cost of beds in bay, sensitivity analysis and potentially profitability. 

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Straighthead in Australian rice crops (2006)

This IREC Farmers Newsletter focuses on the Straighthead that is estimated to loose the rice industry in excess of $1 million a year in yield loss. The symptoms and consequences of straight head include the  distortion of panicles and florets with the end result of sterility, which equates to yield loss. It generally occurs where stubble is incorporated and some varieties are more susceptible or tolerant to straight head than others. Further studies are required to understand the cause of the problem. This report presents the Australian studies to date and the effects varietal types, mid season draining, organic matter reduction, nitrogen rate effects, micronutrient effects on straight head, the development of a safer method  to induce straight head and soil redox potential. 

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Permanent beds for sustainable cropping (2006)

This IREC Farmers Newsletter report gives a brief overview of the field trial layout, 2004 results in Wheat, barley, and 2004/05 rice and soybeans, an economic analysis, and the following summers plan for the project. The permanent lateral beds in bays potentially offer several advantages over cropping on flat layouts. Included in these advantages are increased the possibility of water productivity and yields for rice and subsequent crops, increased cropping flexibility, easier water management, quicker field drying, greater trafficability and the increased use of ground equipment, increased opportunity to easily switch between rice and other furrow irrigated crops and finally to reduce recycling (pumping) costs in furrow irrigated crops. This project continues for 06/07 and 07/08 control strategies.

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RIRDC Project DAN-236A (2006)


For seven years (1997-2004) the rice extension project has assisted rice growers to adopt the best techniques and technologies to improve yields, profitability, grain quality and sustainability of the rice enterprise and the entire rice-bases farming system.  The rice extension program facilitates the transfer of the best techniques and new technologies to rice growers.  The benefits of the extension program over the last seven years are not immediately evident due to the impact of three years with cold damage and two years affected by drought. Economic evaluation of Ricecheck has demonstrated a benefit of $18.50 to the rice industry for each dollar invested in the Ricecheck program, over and above normal research, breeding and extension activities.

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Growing rice with less water (2006)

The Australian rice industry is a world leader in yields, quality and marketing. Water supply is fast becoming its greatest limitation. Can we find a rice growing system that will grow more rice per megalitre?  This Nuffield study overviewed work in several countries that is attempting to adopt aerobic and alternate-wet-and-dry (AWD) rice systems to increase water use efficiency.  The application of such systems in Australian rice growing has potential to lead to a 15–30% increase in water use efficiency, from evaporation savings.  Success of aerobic or AWD systems in Australia would require the rice industry to assess and adopt aerobic germplasm, refine AWD nitrogen management, consider Clearfield™ technology for broadleaf weed control and redefine rice soil suitability for AWD systems

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Have I enough water to finish my rice crop? (November 2006)

Monthly water budgets to compare crop water requirements and available allocations are very important.  If crop needs are likely to exceed supply then decisions about buying extra water or reducing the area of rice by draining must be made. The information can help rice growers calculate their water needs and compare this with available supplies.

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Effects of raised beds, irrigation, and nitrogen management on growth, yield and water use of rice in south eastern Australia - Link (January 2006)

To remain economically and environmentally sustainable, Australian rice growers need to be able to readily respond to market opportunities and increase cropping system productivity and water productivity. Water availability is decreasing whereas its price is increasing. Alternative irrigation layouts and water management approaches could contribute to reduced water use and increased irrigation efficiency. This paper reports results for the first crop (rice) in a cropping system experiment to compare permanent raised bed and conventional layouts on a transitional red-brown earth at Coleambally, New South Wales. The performance of conventional ponded rice grown on a flat layout was compared with rice grown on 1.84-m wide, raised beds with furrow and subsurface drip irrigation. In addition, deep and shallow ponded water depth treatments (15 and 5 cm water depth over the beds) were imposed on the rice on beds during the reproductive period. A range of nitrogen (N) fertiliser rates (0-180 kg N/ha) was applied to all treatments. The traditional flat flooded treatment (Flat) achieved the highest grain yield of 12.7 t/ha, followed by the deep (Bed 15) and shallow (Bed 5) ponded beds (10.2 and 10.1 t/ha, respectively). The furrow (Furrow) irrigated bed treatment yielded 9.4 t/ha and the furrow/drip (Furr/Drip) treatment yielded the lowest grain yield (8.3 t/ha). Grain yield from all bed treatments was reduced owing to the wide furrows (0.8 m between edge rows on adjacent beds), which were not planted to rice. Rice crop water use was significantly different between the layout-irrigation treatments. The Flat, Bed 5 and Bed 15 treatments had similar input (irrigation + rainfall - surface drainage) water use (mean of 18.3 ML/ha). The water use for the Furrow treatment was 17.2 ML/ha and for the Furr/Drip treatment, 15.1 ML/ha. Input WP of the Flat treatment (0.68 t/ML) was higher than the raised bed treatments, which were all similar (mean 0.55 t/ML). This single season experiment shows that high yielding rice crops can be successfully grown on raised beds, but when beds are ponded after panicle initiation, there is no water saving compared with rice grown on a conventional flat layout. Preliminary recommendations for the growing of rice on raised beds are that the crop be grown as a flooded crop in a bankless channel layout. This assists with weed control and allows flooding for cold temperature protection, which is necessary with current varieties. Until we find effective herbicides and other methods of weed control and N application that do not require ponding, there is little scope for saving water while maintaining yield on suitable rice soil through the use of beds.

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Current and potential uses of optical remote sensing in rice based irrigation systems a review - Link (January 2004)

For high water usage cropping systems such as irrigated rice, the positive outcomes of producing a staple food source and sustaining the economy often come at the cost of high resource use and environmental degradation. Advances in geospatial technology will play an increasingly important role in raising productivity and resource use efficiency and reducing environmental degradation, both worldwide and within Australia. This paper reviews the current use of one of these technologies, remote sensing, with the rice-growing region in Australia as a case study. Specifically, we review applications of remote sensing in crop identification, area measurement, regional yield forecasting, and on-farm productivity monitoring and management. Within this context, consideration is given to classification algorithms and accuracy assessment, hyperspectral remote sensing, positional and areal accuracy, linear mixture modelling, methane (CH4) emissions, yield forecasting techniques, and precision agriculture. We also discuss the potential for using remote sensing to assess crop water use, which has received little attention in rice-based irrigation systems, even though it is becoming increasingly important in land and water management planning for irrigation areas. Accordingly, special attention is given to the role of remote sensing with respect to the surface energy balance, the relationship between surface temperature and remotely sensed vegetation indices, and water use efficiency. A general discussion of other geospatial issues, namely geographic information systems and spatial interpolation, is provided because earth-science analysis using remote sensing is often intrinsically integrated with other spatially based technologies and aspects of geographical science.

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Valuing a test for nitrogen status in rice (2003)

This CRC report presents the results of a project assessing the value of test for nitrogen status in rice. The aim of the project was to value information provided to rice growers at Pre flooding (PF) by the soil nitrogen availability. The second stage of the project was to undertake an cost benefit analyses to measure the returns on investment on research and extension to develop and promote this test. The project concluded that the information provided at PF is valuable and assist farmers to use nitrogen more profitably. However the cost benefit analyses indicated that the accuracy levels the benefits from the new test were not sufficient to meet the costs involved on research 

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