After a decade of research and trials, harvesting has taken place on the first commercial rice crop near Palmyra in the Mackay region.
Aerobically grown rice rather than a flooded paddy will give cane growers in the region a new source of income.
The crop of the doongara rice variety covered 11 hectares on Wayne Simpson’s cane property.
Farmacist agronomist Robert Sluggett with assistance from his colleagues and Antony Vagg of Rice Research grew the crop. SunRice, a grower owned company, is already processing rice harvested in the Burdekin and marketing it domestically and internationally.
The aim of the project is to establish a second cash crop that can be grown on the side by cane growers to supplement their income, particularly when sugar prices are low. The returns per hectare based on 2015 prices are slightly higher than suagrcane production.
Rob Eccles, Catchment Solutions said the harvest of the region’s first commercial rice crop was an exciting step forward.
“In terms of soil health this is a badly needed viable rotation crop where a living green fallow is preferable to a bare fallow. This can only lead to greater cane production.”