Monday, October 6, 2014

I shall try to grow rice in 2015

This will be a posting where I am seeking information as much as providing it. You see I am planning on growing a test plot of rice in 2015. Now I know what you are thinking, rice is grown in Louisiana and California, not Ohio. Well they are now growing rice in Vermont
I have been really impressed by the work done in the Northeast.
Rice Farming in Vermont

Farm and Homestead Resiliency Principles in Practice - Finger Lakes
Small scale rice grower in Vermont.

Now where I live corn and soybeans are king. You see some winter wheat but for the most part it is monocrop corn and soybean. Both qualify as high calorie gardening crops. Unfortunately, this also makes land that can grow corn and soybean expensive farm land. Some of the cheaper land also happens to be land with poor drainage. This is why I have been looking into rice.
I obtained the following seeds and they are in the freezer now. I only have a couple of ounces of each, just enough to make a small test plot.
·        Zhe 733 - very early maturing, high yield, excellent disease resistance, short plant height, from China
·        Hsinchu 54 - early maturing, good yield, moderate disease resistance, medium plant height, from Taiwan
·        Rondo - late maturing, would not likely produce seed, but produces a lot of leaves if you are looking for feeding dabbling ducks
I am also looking to obtain some  Duborskian Rice OG Oryza sativa (115 days from transplant) This rice has been grown in Maine. Roberta Bailey acquired this short-grain hardy Russian variety from Seed Savers Exchange member Anpetu Oihankesni of Colorado.

Now I know nothing of rice growing. All I have is my experience gardening & farming and the advice others who are actually growing rice are kindly providing me. However, I have almost two decades of experience raising poultry including waterfowl. I also have some experience raising fish. So I am hoping I can get rice to grow and then add the ducks and fish as I design some real rice paddies in 2016 or 2017.
Rice Duck Farming

Use of local ducklings to control insect pests and weeds in the growing rice field

Duck Rice Farming in Japan

China: Growing rice, raising fish for food and livelihood security

Introduction to fish culture in rice paddies

Integrated rice and fish culture

High calorie gardening is about maximizing calories produced while minimizing calories used to produce those crops. Also I try to find effective ways to reduce required equipment that has to be purchased and maintained. So I am looking at the “Seedling throwing method of rice stand establishment”. Now this first year I will likely be growing rice in large containers. After all I am just trying to see if I can get it to grow in my area. But I will grow the seedlings in trays just as I would with the seedling throwing method. Then I will drop them into the prepared containers. If I was not using this method I would be looking at using a manual rice seedling planting machine.
manual rice transplanter

A Demonstration of Small-Scale Rice Processing Equipment

·        20 days old seedlings of short duration rice varieties
·        Requirement of seedlings will be approximately 20% more than the line planting or equal to random planting.
·        The seedlings are thrown into the puddled leveled field by labor without using force.
·        Suitable for all seasons except heavy rain season.
·        50% labor shaving as compared to line planting and 35% to random planting.
·        Up to 7-10 days of seedling throwing care should be taken to maintain thin film of water
(similar to wet seeded rice).
·        Other cultural operations are same as in transplanted rice
·        Grain yield will be equal to line planted crop and 10-12% higher than random planted crop.

Now one snag I have hit is that I only have 3 acres of land and it is flat.
[There are very few sustainable and regenerative farming methods in known recorded history that can be modeled after for long term food and water abundance. Thailand has been known to bear highly productive rice fields that have existed for over 5000 years. At first glance of the abundance it is easy to think “why don’t we just build rice fields everywhere and have an abundant sustainable farming practice”? This thinking without proper planning can lead to dried up fields and starvation such as cases in Hawaii where massive blocks of crops have been lost and people suffer from bad planning and poor decision making.
In order for a rice field to remain sustainable, an area of equal to or more than (preferably up to 8 times more) above the rice field must remain intact as natural forest. When water that is used from uphill streams and rivers is used to flood the rice fields – it is the forest leaf litter, organic material, and the microbiology that comes with it that sustains the rice fields. If we clear the forest above the rice fields - about 3 years of production is left on those fields before they no longer produce sustainably and organically. Chemical fertilizers then have to be brought in which end up salting those fields and the subsequent fields and soils downstream]

So what I really should have is 8 acres of food forest above per one acre of rice paddy below. The nutrients from the food forest would be trapped in Rice paddies instead of just running downhill.
Such a system of forest above with water running through it can last hundreds of years. However, labor is directly related to the construction of the retaining walls and drainage in the rice paddies. For all practical purposes it is only the upper few feet of the terrace that actually holds water. The area below uses large rocks to increasingly smaller rocks until the clay layer is applied. So it is the layers of rock that make or break the retaining wall of the terrace. If water can drain than it is less likely to wash out a terrace. If the area under the terrace gets soupy the terrace can washout.

So that is all I have learned at this time about growing rice.
My very small rice plot will start in 2015

Below is some more information you may find useful.

Family Model Small Rice Huller Machine | Rice Mill | Rice Sheller
$330.00 per unit and $293.43 shipping to USA.

New England Rock Picking
This is how they clear the rocks out of their fields so they can actually grow something.

How We Grow Crawfish in rice fields

Crayfish Aquaculture Demonstration on Minnesota Rice Paddies

Benefits from leveling rice fields

System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Growing more with less

Terraced rice paddies, masterpieces of ancient engineering, have existed in China, the Philippines, and elsewhere for as long as two millennia. The building of these stepped paddies—done without the aid of machinery—is no minor undertaking. How, then, do farmers construct them? Here, follow the evolution of a new paddy.


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