Rice country comes to life when the rice fields go to flood. Vibrant green fields and crystal clear blue skies for miles. A sight that makes rice farmers proud.
Once rice grows to the four-leaf stage of development, it will begin the tillering process. Farmers will introduce a controlled flood environment to manage weeds and soil-borne diseases.
Rice is a semi-aquatic plant that grows well in a flooded environment. The weeds, however, will not thrive.
According to riceromp.com, “Major plant cell functions like elongation and multiplication require oxygen. Flooded fields have less available oxygen for plant roots. This prevents the germination and growth of weeds that would compete with the rice plant for nutrients and sunlight in the field.”[i]
With the controlled flood keeping the weeds under control, rice thrives in the warm sunlight and soaks up proper nutrients from the soil. Rice plants have a series of internal air tunnels that circulate oxygen down to the root systems.[ii]
Farmers can use many methods to establish a controlled flood on a rice field. They also use various sources of water to limit soil-related issues that negatively affect rice such as excessive salt accumulation and soil depletion.
Farmers use water storage reservoirs, irrigation canals, tailwater recovery ditches and wells to flood fields, and many farmers use sustainable methods to help regulate how much water is used in the field.
Levees hold the flood in a rice paddy. Since the levees were surveyed to maintain an even elevation across the field, the farmer knows the rice will receive enough water to grow healthy rice plants.
See how this Riceland farmer uses multiple inlet irrigation system with poly pipe to flood a rice field.
Stay tuned for next week’s From Riceland Farms post to learn more about the different irrigation systems used to flood fields.
[i] www.riceromp.com for teachers, RiceRomp, accessed June 7, 2016, http://www.riceromp.com/teachers/lessonContent.cfm?pId=19