Rice Industry Seeks Alternative to Burning Stubble

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The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia’s (RGA) Environmental Champions Program will receive $50,000 to explore innovative options for rice stubble management, courtesy of the Commonwealth government’s Caring for our Country program.

Previously, the RGA have sought to raise awareness about the potential dangers of burning stubble, including inflicting excessive smoke on neighbouring properties.

RGA Environmental Champions Program regional co-ordinator Neil Bull said that the money would help farmers to better understand the benefits of alternative stubble management options. 

"This project will identify and trial innovative alternatives to burning stubble. We’ll use the funding to conduct on-farm trials to quantify the costs and benefits of these alternatives, including improvements to soil health. By the end of the project we’ll understand the value of innovative new management practices and the ability of growers to use them in their farming system"

"Our previous stubble management awareness program has been very successful in educating growers about how to burn more responsibly. However we found that most growers believe alternative options are either too expensive or don’t fit in their farming system." 

"By running on-farm demonstration trials, we’d like to determine whether the latest innovative practices can benefit productivity in rice-based farming systems. Providing they do, the project will also help provide useful advice about how innovative methods can be practically used."

Mr Bull said that grower input and involvement will be critical to the success of the project.

"We’re looking for rice growers to tell us about any alternative practices they have considered or dabbled with, so we can trial their effectiveness in this project. There are lots of innovators in the rice industry and we’re looking to harness these capabilities for the benefit of the whole industry."

"If you’ve got an idea or are doing something different already, please let us know. Every bit of input will help. "

He added that the government should be applauded for supporting the industry’s efforts on managing rice stubbles.

"It’s encouraging that the government recognises the importance of trying to better understand this complex issue. The fact that we still rely heavily on burning stubble means that there are no easy answers, but this project should go a long way to finding alternatives growers want to adopt."

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