Rice Growing Practices Help Control Erosion, 10-Year Study

    Rice field. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Last week, Field to Market published their highly anticipated 2016 National Indicators Report outlining improvements made to on-farm sustainability metrics made from 1980 through this year.

    The Report evaluates ten crops using eight environmental indicators: biodiversity, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, irrigation water use, land use, soil carbon, soil conservation, and water quality. Rice has been one of the original crops analyzed since the Report was first published ten years ago and has seen vast improvements over the 35-year period of the study.

    During the last ten years of the study, the largest accomplishment has been increased soil conservation with substantially less soil erosion taking place on rice farming operations.

    The Report states, “On a per-acre basis, rice consistently demonstrates the lowest per-acre soil erosion of all six crops examined.” The claim is backed by the highly adopted use of flood irrigation and land-leveling practices employed by the industry. Energy reduction and greenhouse gas emissions seen on rice farms are also credited to productivity gains by the industry according to the Report.

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    Jennifer James, Arkansas rice farmer, chairwoman of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee, and USA Rice Board Member for Field to Market shared her thoughts on the Report. “While the scores for rice within the various metrics has fluctuated over the years, we have not stopped improving overall from where we were in 1980. We can’t look at a snapshot of our records to determine where we are for the long-haul, it’s important to look at the big picture to see just how far we’ve come,” she said.

    James added, “This Report is great for us to show to our buyers and export markets but it’s nothing we didn’t already know. U.S. rice farmers are sustainable and we know that, this is just another tool in our toolbox to help us tell our story and prove our point.”

    The full report and rice’s specific analysis is located on the Field to Market website.

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