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Genetic rice trials to help industry achieve ‘aspirational’ water efficiency target

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Genetic rice trials to help industry achieve ‘aspirational’ water efficiency target

There may be rising optimism concerning the rice trade’s formidable water effectivity purpose, however some growers are questioning if it may be achieved in the timeframe given. 

Final yr, Rice Breeding Australia (RBA) was created to analysis rice varieties that don’t want as a lot water to develop.

It got here after the trade set a goal to improve water efficiency by 75 per cent by 2026.

The most recent five-year common for rice manufacturing is about 0.8 tonnes of rice per megalitre of water. 

RBA has since began trials throughout the Riverina, in southern New South Wales, the place about 98 per cent of the nation’s rice is produced. 

Chief government Georgina Pengilley says researchers are utilizing genetics to breed varieties that may develop with much less water. 

“We glance to take these greatest ones ahead for the growers to have and begin to meet these water productiveness targets,” she stated.

“Some trials are late-stage trials so we’re having them with growers within the subsequent three to 4 years.”

A man standing in front of a rice seeding machine.
Garry Knagge is conducting genetic rice trials on his farm.(ABC Riverina: Shannon Corvo)

Growers say goal is ‘aspirational’

Rice grower Garry Knagge, who has rice trials on his farm at Leeton, has welcomed the trade’s new course. 

However he says the variables in rice rising, akin to water allocations, climate and varieties having totally different yields, will make the water effectivity goal troublesome to achieve. 

“It’s extremely aspirational,” Mr Knagge stated. 

“While it is good to have a quantity, whether or not we obtain that as an trade as a result of totally different varieties will yield otherwise.

“To have the whole thing elevate to that degree can be a significant problem.”

A close up of rice crop growing through a layer of water.
Rice crop requires a blanket of water to outlive.(ABC Riverina: Shannon Corvo)

Rice crops are vulnerable to chilly temperatures, so a blanket of water is required to maintain it insulated, for nearly your complete rising season.

Brooke and Neville Hollins develop rice at Burraboi, about 200 kilometres south of Mr Knagge’s farm. 

Mr Hollins additionally thinks the goal will be difficult to achieve. 

“If they’ll preserve researching new varieties to shorten the rising season, I believe that is the place nearly all of it’ll come from,” he stated. 

“The analysis we’d like down right here is predominantly extra for chilly tolerant varieties as a result of we get colder nights than the MIA [Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area].”

“If we will get an excellent cold-tolerant selection that the entrepreneurs need that will be actually good.”

A man and woman stand next to each other in front of rice crop.
Brooke and Neville Hollins’ household has been rising rice for 80 years. (ABC Riverina: Shannon Corvo)

Rice analysis set to broaden

Ms Pengilley agreed that the goal was formidable however stated it was an “thrilling time” for the trade, with all stakeholders on board. 

“Genetics is an extended recreation, so for RBA the principle secret is that we will show we’re making inroads,” she stated. 

Ms Pengilley stated there have been plans to broaden the breeding program from this yr. 

“The extra numbers we now have in this system, the extra alternative we have to take a look at germ plasm and subsequently find yourself with a range that is going to work for the growers,” she stated.

“Over the following 5 years we’ll be seeking to take this system to 10 occasions the scale that it was in 2022.”

A woman and a man talk to each other in front of rice crop.
Genetic rice trials are underway throughout the Riverina. (ABC Riverina: Shannon Corvo)

Watch ABC TV’s Landline at 12:30pm on Sunday or on ABC iview.

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