Research & Development

The rice industry invests heavily in research and development into innovative ways of producing rice, using less water per tonne.

This has led to the development of water efficient rice varieties, more sophisticated drainage and recycling systems and improved irrigation layouts to reduce water loss.

Future Proofing The Rice Industry - Rice R&D Levy Review

Registrations for the postal vote are now closed. 

Registered Ballot papers must be posted no later than 23rd November 2018.

A recent independent review of the Rice Research and Development (R&D) Levy was conducted by Betzner Consulting Pty Ltd. It was initiated by growers to ensure that there will be sufficient research and development funds to continue important work round varietal development and water use efficiency, thereby ensuring that rice remains competitive. The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) and AgriFutures Australia (previously RIRDC) managed the review process with broad stakeholder engagement. 

The RGA Central Executive recommends that the Rice Research and Development Statutory Levy be changed to $6 per tonne, representing an increase of $3 per tonne from the current rate. 

This recommendation is based on the results of the Review. The proposed increase would provide the Australian rice industry with access to an additional $1.6 million per year, or $7.5 million over 10 years, to fund critical projects that will assist in securing the industry’s future.

The proposed levy increase to $6 per tonne would deliver benefits for all growers in all rice growing regions through significantly increasing returns per megalitre. Changes to the levy will sustain the research effort and capacity in years of low rice production therefore offering a greater security of funding to support research, development and extension (RD&E) projects.

The additional investment that would be generated from additional levies is recommended for the development of improved genetics and production systems for Australia. Increasing the rate of genetic gain in rice breeding will be achieved through:

  • Continued implementation of molecular marker technology in mainstream rice breeding
  • Evaluation of novel genetic resources
  • Proficiency program for quality laboratories
  • Exploratory research in grain quality

Some of the funds will also be invested in increasing the capacity of the existing breeding, best practice agronomy management and extension programs.

The rice industry has great opportunities ahead with a burgeoning global demand for the nutritional benefits of rice. To meet these opportunities and challenges – to future proof the rice industry – we need to have access to the very best in research outcomes. A key success factor is extension programs to enable the findings to be applied on farm. Simply maintaining the current level of RD&E funding is unlikely to deliver these outcomes within the desired timeframe.

The decision about whether to increase the Rice R&D Levy is in the hands of levy payers. High levels of participation in the ballot and positive support for the R&D levy increase are required for the proposal to be considered by government, so the RGA encourages every rice levy payer to take the opportunity to vote. 

A ballot is beng conducted and closes on Friday 23rd November 2018. 

For more information view the information brochure here.

New Rice Varieties

It often takes more than 10 years to develop a new variety of rice.

“Sherpa” was released to growers in 2011. After extensive research, it was found to have good cold-tolerance, down to 11.5 degrees Celsius, meaning it requires less water in which to grow. It also has a positive yield potential.

In 2014, a new premium fragrant rice variety, "Topaz" was released. It was developed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries in partnership with the Rural Industries Research Development Corporation, SunRice and Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd and was bred for Australia's temperate rice growing conditions. In market testing in Hong Kong, Topaz outperformed other fragrant rice varieties for taste, appearance and flavour.

Learn more about Topaz here

New varieties are grown and evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Water use
  • Length of grain
  • Colour of grain
  • Cooking quality – time, consistency
  • Transparency of grain
  • Yield in the paddock

RIRDC Rice R&D Program

The aim of the Rural Industries R&D Corporation’s Rice Program is to improve the profitability and sustainability of the Australian rice industry through the organisation, funding and management of a RD&E program that is both market and stakeholder driven.

The Australian rice industry is a world leader in production efficiency, water use efficiency and environmental management. Its high quality export focused production achieves premium prices in world medium grain rice markets. This status is directly attributable to RD&E.

This program is funded by statutory levies paid by industry participants which are matched on a dollar for dollar basis by the Australian Government.

Research investments are guided by the Rice R&D Advisory Committee following the Rice 2012 - 2017 R&D Plan.

Visit the RIRDC Rice R&D Program website for information about current R&D projects, rice publications, news and updates.

Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL)

Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of SunRice, undertakes rice varietal and agronomic research and development in partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC). RRAPL operates a leased farm in the Riverina for its activities. It conducts breeding trials, cold tolerance research and other agronomic trials. RRAPL is also part of a number of international research and development projects.


Most of the equipment used on rice farms is fitted with computer-aided devices that allow our growers to manage their techniques with accuracy.

GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and Precision Farming
Uses satellite networks to precisely match crop needs with crop requirements.

Computerised Whole Farm Design and Laser Landforming
Uses computer aided design (CAD) and laser technology to design efficient farm irrigation systems. Laser landforming ensures the most efficient use of water. Farmers have precise control over the flow of water on and off the land.

GIS (Geographical Information Systems)
GIS is used to organise geographical information which is then stored digitally on a database.

Remote Sensing
Spectral imaging obtained from satellites and aircrafts assists with the planning and management of the farm system. Farmers can calculate the exact capabilities of their farm by identifying enterprises to suit each area.

Aerial Machinery
Experienced agricultural pilots use satellite guidance technology to distribute seeds and other inputs across a rice bay with precision and accuracy. This works hand in hand with precision farming.