Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Experiment: Small Scale Rice Production

By Arielle Gerstein

According to Nazirahk Amen, ND, L.Ac. co-founder of Purple Mountain Organics, “Rice is the number one eaten crop in the world.” 

Rice production also creates the highest amount of methane even compared to cattle. Flooded rice patties in particular produce a lot of methane. Although the largest agricultural companies are starting to move away from flooding as a method of rice production, they are still flooding the fields. At Muirkirk Research Farm, Nazirahk and his team have planted dry land rice to test the feasibility of small-scale rice production that is more environmentally friendly.

The large-scale agriculture community still depends on genetically modified rice to produce large yields and Roundup to kill weeds. This is referred to a “Roundup Ready Rice.” Large-scale farmers spray the entire field with Roundup but because the rice is resistant to Roundup, only the weeds are killed.  
Currently, small-scale rice production does not exist so the market is essentially monopolized by large-scale agriculture and consumers have little choice in buying rice based on how it is grown.

The Muirkirk experiment uses biodegradable plastic mulch to grow rice. Nazirahk selected two varieties of dry land rice and is using two different depths of irrigation – one inch and six inches.  He only uses materials and equipment that would be feasible for small farmers. Nazirahk is growing on a small-scale, about five pounds of rice and all the rice is planted by hand. Another part of the experiment is how well the rice tillers being spaced a good distance apart.  

Tillering is important because the plants produce different seed heads and lead to larger rice plants.  The team plans to harvest by hand but they have obtained a huller to remove the outer husks the grains of rice. This experiment does require soil adjustment to take into account regional soil and the ability to grow rice in the grass family.  

As Nazrahk stated, “Our project is really about helping small farmers get back into rice production.”  

This project, along with other small scale rice productions in the DC metro area will help make rice production a viable option for small farmers.

For more information, contact Che Axum

No comments:

Post a Comment