Across the district rice harvest is getting underway.
We farm in the Riverina, southern NSW which is where rice is predominantly grown within Australia. We have many rice farmers around us but we don’t actually grow rice on our farm because our soil types are not suitable; rice requires clay based soil and we have sandy loam soils that are instead perfect for growing lucerne (alfalfa).
Our climate makes it ideal for the production of high quality medium grain rice. Australian growers produce more rice per hectare than anywhere else in the world with 50% less water than the global average.
I hadn't realised how much less water than the global average the Riverina rice farms use. Thank you.ReplyDelete
That is positive news about our rice production, but many tropical countries have abundant water for rice growing, so it doesn't matter to them or their environment how much is used. We just don't have the rainfall and so some years ago, in spite of being a supporter of Australian grown produce, we only buy our rice from water abundant countries. From my reading, so many of the problems in the Murray and Darling river systems are down to rice growing, especially in Queensland. The land and water could be much better used for other agricultural purposes, and just maybe, there might be some spare for the Murray River to flow big and wide into South Australia. The upper flood level markers at Echuca are now beyond anyone's belief. I expect the historical average river level is too. Sorry if I sound a bit blunt and cross, but what is happening now in the Murray Darling is beyond the pale.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comments Andrew. I understand your concerns and I likewise have concerns about the Murray Darling system, though we probably come from very different angles. Firstly I want to clarify that rice is not grown in Sth Queensland or Nth NSW, it is only grown in NSW along the Murrumbidgee & Murray valleys. I think you are actually referring to the cotton industry in Nth NSW & Sth QLD that have got a lot of adverse publicity of late and rightly so. Secondly the Murray River was at major flood level only 18months ago (Oct 2016). The river at Tocumwal was the highest that I have ever seen it and I have lived here for 28 years, so the rivers still do flood.Delete
I not a rice farmer but I do understand that rice is an important food source for millions of people around the world on a daily basis. There is a place for rice production in Australia. Why? Because not all irrigation water can be used on higher value crops ie grapes, almonds etc as not all soil types are suited to those crops, & those are permanent plantings ie they need water every year. The advantage to having a mix of annual crops and permanent planting is that in dry years (which we are always going to have because of Australia’s drought-flood cycle) annual crops like rice don’t get planted. No water, no rice. That doesn’t work for almonds or other permanent plantings. The rate of growth in the almond industry for example is a big concern because in those low water allocation years when the rice farmer can just shut down, the almond growers will still need water, and there may not be enough water for all of those plantings.
Thanks for your considered response. Yes, like I asked someone about tigers in Africa, I did get it wrong. Qld cotton farmers/corporations. Your words are wise. We need to adapt to the climate, but this is seems to be so problematic in the weather boom or bust of Australian weather and it seems we still have not learnt. May I in the future ask you about how how farmer co-ops turned into private businesses that can fail or be taken over by another country. Doesn't that go against the spirit of why co-ops came into being?Delete
It certainly does go against the grain of a co-op. It was a sad day indeed for Murray Goulburn. Murray Goulburn was a farmer lead co-operative started by 7 dairy farmers just over the Murray River from us in 1950. It went on to become the leader in the Australian dairy industry. Sadly it's demise was quick once it was partially listed on the stock exchange. The focus changed from good returns for the member dairy farmers to getting returns for the share investors. And ultimately that was its undoing in my opinion.Delete
Great photo. I did not realize that Australia grew rice at all's I've learned something new.ReplyDelete
Well I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea that rice was grown in Australia. I always thought it required huge amounts of water. Every day is a school day.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the look at a crop that's not grown around here at all. I have seen some rice growing as we visited our children when they lived in other parts of the US.ReplyDelete