ARLINGTON, VA – Access to water and water use are among the most important aspects of rice farming. It can be one of the most costly inputs, and it can also be highly controversial and political. Water efficiency is vital for farmers’ bottom lines, the planet, and the rice industry’s social license to operate. Learn more about row rice on Episode 23 of The Rice Stuff podcast.
Dr. Steve Linscombe welcomes Dr. Jason Bond of Mississippi State University and Louisiana farmer Jason Waller to share some of their expertise on furrow irrigation and alternate wetting and drying (AWD) that are both a part of row rice systems.
“Jason Waller is a great example of someone who is willing to try something new if it could translate to an advantage,” said Linscombe. “To hear about an offhanded conversation that began in a Subway sandwich shop and resulted in him running his pumps less, using less water, and now being so willing to share his knowledge with others is pretty special.”
As with any new system or approach to something there are concerns and a learning curve, and since a major benefit to flood irrigation is effective weed control, researchers and farmers are putting row rice to the test here. But even ways to study it are new.
“On our row rice research plots we just cycle water through the whole time, we don’t catch any,” Bond said. “I don’t know that it’s the right way to do it, it’s the way we’ve chosen to start it. It feels right but it’s completely different from our system of even just a few years ago.”
One thing it seems everyone can agree on is that row rice offers clear benefits, but it isn’t the right system for everyone.
“Row rice is a valuable tool in the toolbox, but it’s just one tool that not everyone can use,” Linscombe said. “Whether it’s about simple access to water or unique weed pressures on your farm, if you can’t utilize the technique, there’s nothing wrong with conventional irrigation. What we set out to do on this episode was present two really smart people who understand row rice and have them unpack some pros and cons for us. And I think we did just that.”
New episodes of The Rice Stuff are published on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month and can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. All episodes and additional information can be found on the podcast’s dedicated website at thericestuffpodcast.com. The site includes a “Podcast 101” section on the “About” page for people new to the medium and a means to reach out to the show hosts and guests via the “Talk to Us” button.