Below is a list of questions often asked of the RGA and corresponding answers? If you have a question that you want answered and it is not below please don’t hesitate to Contact Us directly and we will forward you a response.
Growing Rice in Australia
Q. How many varieties of rice do we grow in Australia?
There are thousands of rice varieties around the world, but we grow 11 in Australia. Our researchers have specifically bred our varieties to suit our climate, and are constantly working to develop new rice varieties which are more water efficient.
Rice and Water
Q. Australia is the driest continent on earth. Do you think that rice should be grown in Australia?
In Australia, we grow varieties of rice that suit our temperate climate. Our rice is of the highest quality and suits an environment close to that of the Mediterranean and California where similar varieties are grown. Rice is an annual crop and is only grown when there is water available in the system. As general security irrigators, farmers who grow rice receive their water last – after the environment, towns, livestock and permanent plantings.
Q. Water is a valuable resource in this country so why should we use water on flooding rice bays?
The rice industry uses water to produce a staple food that feeds tens of millions of people each day and therefore is a productive use of water.
Our rice growers follow the strictest management guidelines. They are not permitted to grow rice on soil that is not approved and can only grow rice on a limited portion of that approved soil. This ensures minimal seepage into the water table. In addition, many rice farmers directly sow a winter cereal crop, such as wheat or barley, into the rice paddock after it has been harvested, taking advantage of the remaining soil moisture to grow another crop. Many farmers are also using shorter season varieties and using the delayed permeant water technique.
Q. Why do we need to use flood irrigation to grow rice?
Rice is a semi aquatic plant which grows in saturated soils and requires consistent levels of water during its life cycle. Increasing the depth of water during the early pollen microspore stage of growth, while the panicle is in the stem below the water level, allows it to be protected from night temperatures. If the plant is exposed to temperatures below 15 degrees celsius, it could result in sterility of the grain and low yields.
Research and Development is continually improving the Australian rice strains so that they use less water, less chemicals and produce a higher yield whist retaining nutrition levels and flavour.
Features of Rice
Q. Is white rice bleached rice?
When rice is harvested, there is a husk that protects the grain. When removed, we are left with what we know as ‘brown rice’. The brown rice is then gently milled to remove the outer bran and the finished product is white rice.
Q. Is brown rice healthier than white rice?
Rice is rich in energy-giving carbohydrates, very low in fat, contains no cholesterol, and is salt free, sugar free and gluten free. The difference between white and brown rice is that white rice has the outer layer known as bran removed. Bran is good for general health.
Q. Some crops are considered ‘high value’ as their return per megalitre is high. Is this the case with rice?
There are other enterprises with higher gross margins per megalitre than rice, however we cannot look past the fact that the rice industry is vertically integrated. This means that the grower receives a return from the product sold on our supermarket shelves. Growers own the industry from paddock to plate, as they are the shareholders of the SunRice brand.
Q. Why don’t rice growers plant crops that give a greater return per megalitre, like fruit or vegetables?
Our Australian rice growers make important decisions based on a range of factors, not just return per megalitre. These include:
- Risk of enterprise - our growers have confidence that even in tight years they will receive an economic return
- Capital investment - lower capital costs for rice compared to other crops
- Unique rotation system - farmers utilise the moisture remaining in the soil after rice harvest to plant a subsequent crop
- Ownership - our Australian rice industry is vertically integrated, this means rice farmers own the industry from ‘paddock to plate’
Rice and Chemicals
Q. How clean and green in Australian rice?
Australian growers have the lowest chemical use in the developed world. Our growers use a unique crop rotation system, which takes advantage of natural biological controls, our growing areas remain free of the serious pests and diseases that affect rice crops in other parts of the world, reducing weed and pesticide use.
Q. What is arsenic and why is it found in Austalian food?
Arsenic is a chemical element found in water, air, food and soil. Because arsenic is found everywhere in our natural environment, trace elements are present in most of the foods we eat and beverages we drink.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand sets levels of contaminants, including arsenic, in a range of foods. The Food Standards Code provides limits for inorganic arsenic in certain foods.
In Australia, the Food Standards Code is enforced by the State and Territory food authorities
The limits on arsenic in the Food Standards Code are set at levels consistent with protecting public health and safety.
These limits cover the major foods that are likely to contribute to arsenic exposure including seaweed, molluscs, fish, crustaceans and cereals, including rice.