Organic rice research moves to front burner in Texas

Feb 19, 2013
Organic rice research moves to front burner in Texas
Clover was planted on a field prior to planting organic rice in at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research-Beaumont test site. Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife Research, photo by Kathleen Phillips

Organic rice studies have moved to the front burner with almost $1 million in federal grants to Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists.

Two studies, led by Dr. Fugen Dou of Beaumont – and a team from College Station, Corpus Christi, Arkansas, Alabama and South Carolina—will look at yielding more high quality organic in an environmentally friendly way. The research projects are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Currently some 50,000 acres of organic rice are grown annually in the U.S., the researchers noted, and demand has continued to increase.

"Although conventional rice production has decreased in Texas by about 36 percent in the last 15 years," Dou said, "the state now has about 15,000 acres of organic rice and is revitalizing the rice industry.

But there are many unknowns about growing the crop organically, he said. And, because all U.S. rice is grown in flooded rice paddies, organic production methods developed for other crops do not pertain to rice farming.

The biggest of two grants will be an almost $727,000 study to look at reducing emission on organic rice farms.

"Organic rice farming may have greater potential for soil carbon sequestration but may also result in greater greenhouse gas emissions because of greater input of organic matter," Dou explained.

He said the research will look at the use of cover crops, organic soil amendments and the choice of varieties to improve soil quality, reduce disease loss and increase yield and milling quality.

Dou has done previous research to help rice farmers determine the best management practices for growing the crop organically. In those, the researcher found that ryegrass and clover performed better than other winter cover crops on clay soils. He also found two organic soil amendments – Nature Safe and Rhizogen – increased yield and milling quality better than other organic fertilizers.

The rice variety also made a difference in yield when grown organically, Dou said.

While those findings were conclusive individually, Dou noted, there had not been research to determine how these practices impacted each other when applied together.

"With this research, we will look at the effect of , amendments and the variety of rice on yield, milling quality, soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

The second study will use $225,000 to examine the severity of disease in rice crops in Texas and South Carolina, specifically at the impact of dissolved organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations and salinity on water quality.

Dou said the researchers also will develop budgets to determine the best management practices to use to get the maximum economic return for the investment.

Both projects will be conducted through 2015.

Explore further: Biologists develop nanosensors to visualize movements and distribution of plant hormone

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Water-stingy agriculture reduces arsenic in rice markedly

Jul 28, 2008

A new farming method first developed to conserve precious irrigation water may have the added benefit of producing rice containing much less arsenic than rice grown using traditional rice-farming methods, researchers in the ...

New rice varieties offer benefits to growers

Oct 31, 2011

New rice varieties that offer new options for U.S. growers and expanded market opportunities for the U.S. rice industry have been developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and cooperators.

Recommended for you

Chrono, the last piece of the circadian clock puzzle?

9 hours ago

All organisms, from mammals to fungi, have daily cycles controlled by a tightly regulated internal clock, called the circadian clock. The whole-body circadian clock, influenced by the exposure to light, dictates the wake-sleep ...

Drought hormones measured

9 hours ago

Floods and droughts are increasingly in the news, and climate experts say their frequency will only go up in the future. As such, it is crucial for scientists to learn more about how these extreme events affect plants in ...

Research traces the genetic print of the Asturian people

17 hours ago

The DNA of the people of Asturias still maintains the genetic prints of remote ages. A research conducted at the University of Oviedo proves that the old frontiers marked by the pre-Roman Astur settlements have left their ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...