Ord rice trial yielding 'excellent results'


The results of wide-ranging research on rice as a potential crop for the Ord River Irrigation Area will be the focus of a field day on the Ord this week.

Department of Agriculture and Food development officer Siva Sivapalan said visitors would have an opportunity to hear about 12 rice varieties being trialled at the Kununurra site to identify varieties adapted to local conditions.

"Department rice trials, co-funded by RIRDC and Rice Research Australia through an ACIAR project, include four temperate varieties from New South Wales and eight tropical varieties sourced from China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia," Dr Sivapalan said. "Four of the tropical varieties yielded in the range of 10 to 11.5t/ha in 2012 which was an excellent result despite the cold damage during the season.

"In addition to identifying locally adapted varieties, different growing systems are being evaluated, including the aerobic system and the traditional paddy or flooded systems.

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"A range of planting dates throughout April and May are also being tested to identify the planting window that achieves the highest yields."

Dr Sivapalan said the discovery of the fungal disease rice blast in commercial crops in 2011 heralded future issues for the local rice industry.

"Over the past three years the department's trial crops have not been infected by blast disease, but based on trials conducted in the Northern Territory, half of the varieties being tested in Kununurra this year are believed to have moderate resistance," Dr Sivapalan said.

"Field day participants will also have an opportunity to view research using ring lysimeters which are intended to quantify the evaporation, transpiration and deep percolation water losses from rice fields.

"Soybeans will also be covered at the field day as a summer rotation crop that benefits rice by minimising the need for nitrogen fertiliser to be applied."

The field day will be held at the department's Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture on Durack Drive, Kununurra, on Wednesday (September 18) from 8am.

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