Sustainable and Profitable Strategies for IPM in Southern Organic Rice
This project is a collaboration between researchers at Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research & Extension Center, Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, USDA’s ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, University of Arkansas Rice Research and Extension Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Department of Agriculture, and The Organic Center. It employs a multi-stakeholder research team to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to developing Integrated Pest Management strategies for organic rice production in the Southern United States.
The popularity of organic rice has skyrocketed in the past 20 years. In response to this popularity, organic rice acreage has increased almost six-fold since 1995 with up to half of the acreage in the southern U.S. Despite this rapid expansion, domestic rice production has not been able to keep up with market demand, resulting in increasing pressure from foreign organic rice imports.
One of the reasons why organic rice acreage is not expanding more rapidly is a lack of knowledge about tools that best support rice production. Rice is grown in a unique flooded system, so cropping systems information from other cereal grains is not applicable, and research being done specifically to rice systems is funded by conventional check-offs and focuses solely on conventional production.
The goal of this project is to empower growers to make informed choices on inputs that will result in sound pest management, higher and more consistent yields, improved milling and grain quality, and enhanced soil quality. This will help the market for domestically produced organic rice to continue to expand, and will sustain rural communities in areas where conventional rice acreage has been decreasing.