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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stuttgart, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #282475

Title: Developing sustainable management practices for organic rice production

Author
item Dou, Fugen - Texas Agrilife
item Xin-gen, Zhou - Texas Agrilife
item Mcclung, Anna
item Mcclung, Anna
item Liu, Guangie - Texas Agrilife
item Landry, Kip - Texas Agrilife

Submitted to: Texas Experiment Station Field Day Handout
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2012
Publication Date: 6/23/2012
Citation: Dou, F., Xin-Gen, Z., McClung, A.M., Liu, G., Landry, K. 2012. Developing sustainable management practices for organic rice production. Texas Rice, Highlights in Research XV: 15-16.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Demand for organically produced rice has been increasing with up to 50,000 acres now produced in the USA. Although acreage of conventional rice production has decreased in Texas by 36% during the last 15 years, it is now home to some 15,000 acres of organic rice, which has brought new vitality to otherwise struggling rice farmers. Soil fertility is a key component to producing high yields that make organic farming systems economically viable. Essentially all rice in the USA is produced under flooded conditions as a means of controlling weeds and stabilizing yields. Nutrient availability is very different under anaerobic (flooded) conditions typical of rice production as compared to dryland or row cropping systems. In addition, rice is typically grown in heavy clay soils or those with a shallow hardpan in order to sustain field flooding. Thus, organic nutrient management methods that have been developed for other crops have limited use in rice and there have been few studies conducted in flooded-rice systems using organic based fertilizers. Cover crops have been shown to enhance soil fertility, soil organic matter, and soil structure. Research indicates that cover-cropped soil has higher total carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), and reduced water extractable organic C contents than conventional treatment soils. However, in anaerobic rice soils, where there is slow decomposition, the presence of phenolics in soil organic matter has been shown to reduce nutrient availability. Therefore, use of cover crops with high quality and biomass can increase soil N supply for organic rice production but nutrient availability is complicated by anaerobic/flooded fields. Identification of cover crops that can be successfully established and terminated in time for nutrients to be available at key time points of the rice growth cycle is critical for maximizing yields and reducing input costs for organic growers. In this study, we will quantify the effects of cover crop and organic soil amendments on rice yield, milling quality, and disease severity in integrated studies conducted on organic land at Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Beaumont, TX.