Farming is one of the most prominent industries around the world due to its importance. In one year alone, agriculture contributed around $1.26 trillion in GDP, going to show just how large this industry is. In particular, rice farming serves as one of the leading forms of farming around the world. Learning the ins and outs of everything related to rice farming can help anybody learn if this is a field that is of interest to them.
How Much Food Production is Dedicated to Rice?
Rice is a staple for as much as 50% of the world’s population, which means meeting is desire requires producing 20 billion pounds of rice in the United States alone on an annual basis. Compared to other types of crops that farmers may be growing over the course of a year, rice heavily eclipses the amount being grown.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Rice?
Generally, it only takes around 120 days for rice plants to grow to their near full height of three-to-four feet, however completing all preparation and after-growth tasks typically takes the entire year. This is why rice farms are often dedicated to only the farming of rice, not to mention the fact that the actual process differs from traditional crop farming methods.
The 5 Stages of Rice Farming
As mentioned, rice farming from preparation to completion will take around a complete year, despite the fact that the actual growth will only take around three months. There are five primary stages to sustainable rice production techniques for a healthier planet which farmers most often use:
Preparing the field and planting
Generally, farmers will begin to start preparing their fields around march. This stage involves carefully leveling the field using a GPS satellite-driven technology which helps to perfectly level that field in such a way that water usage is optimized. Fertilizer then gets added into the ground and shallow furrows are rolled out. Typically, one month later in April, the rice is ready to be planted in the ground.
Irrigation and growth
The second stage of rice farming is irrigation and growth. Traditionally, water is flooded into the field with a depth of around five inches. This allows for rice plants’ to not need to compete against weeds for sunlight, which actually reduces the need for herbicides. Once the flooding is complete, planes fly overhead and drop the rice seeds into the ground which burrown. Over the next 120 days, the rice will continue to grow until it nears maturity at a height of around three-to-four feet. Generally, it will take until September before the rice plants are fully ready to be harvested.
The harvesting months
During the harvesting months, highly advanced harvesting machines will enter the fields to collect all of the grain. At both a rapid and gently pace, the harvesters grab each grain of rice and load it into a waiting trailer to be transported. A field can yield as much as 8,500 pounds of rice alone.
The introduction of wildlife
At this stage, the farmer allows a shallow flood to remain in their rice fields. As winter comes, animal habitats will be provided with food. In return, nutrients end up in the soil and weeds are taken down which helps to grow the rice in the following season. This stage typically lasts all the way from November to February.
Milling and storage
The final stage associated with rice farming is the milling and storage of rice. This stage typically occurs year-round and is the part of the process which gets the rice from the farm to a store. At a mill, the harvested rice is passed through a machine which removes the inedible hull of the rice. The edible interior is maintained and bagged. White rice is often enriched with a coating of vitamins to replace those which were lost during the process of milling. The rice can then be stored until it is ready to be sold.
Launch a career in rice farming today
While rice farming may not be the right choice for everybody, it can lead to a lucrative career path considering how in-demand rice is as a product. However, rice is a very capital-intensive crop to grow which means any farmer needs to find ways to be more sustainable. Whether this means using alternative farming strategies, using more sustainable materials, or some other way, reducing the effect on the environment is important as a farmer.
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