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Improving skills and enriching knowledge focus for Rice Extension

Rice Extension is central to connecting people in the Australian rice industry to ensure productive growers and a sustainable future.

The Australian rice industry is a world leader in production efficiency, water use efficiency and environmental management. It can produce enough rice to feed 20 million people 365 days a year.

The AgriFutures Australia-funded Rice Extension is working closely with industry representatives to ensure it continues to be a front runner.

Rice Extension plays a significant role in the dissemination of information and education between agronomists, researchers, growers, industry and specialists.

“The major goal is to ensure rice growing is maintained as an industry with productive growers and a sustainable future,” said Gae Plunkett, Rice Extension Coordinator.

Over the past two years, Rice Extension has worked with young growers, agronomists and advisors to improve their skills and enrich their knowledge.

Rice Extension has conducted workshops which discuss new technology and innovations such as improved agronomic packages, water efficiency including irrigation layouts and laser levelling for precise water depths.

“Workshop highlights include farm visits and interactive presentations from leading growers and industry advisors,” said Mrs Plunkett.

“Topics include learning about soils, stubble management and crop rotation to business management, cash flow and marketing.”

The final workshop for 2017 will be in December and will focus on the use of new technologies to grow rice.

Mrs Plunkett said attendees would learn how to calibrate a spreader and investigate the advantages of section control in sprayer and spreader technology to prevent overlap and misses.

“This is very important to maximise yield and prevent lodging,” she said.

Another area identified by Rice Extension was the need to connect and empower rural women to take an active role in rice farming businesses.

“Women in rice farming businesses make a valuable contribution to the decision-making process yet involvement in many industry events remains male dominated,” said Mrs Plunkett.

And so the ‘Women in Rice’ network was established earlier this year.

The first event held at Coleambally NSW, attracted 50 women and provided a strong networking opportunity.

“The women involved came from various backgrounds within the industry; famers, irrigation companies, agronomists, SunRice and spanned many generations – there were wives, mothers and daughters,” Mrs Plunkett said.
The initiative focused on sharing knowledge, building skills to make good farm business decisions and growing confidence to take an active role in running the business.

The next Women in Rice event will take place on Monday, 27 November at Deniliquin NSW.

Rice Extension was established in 2014 to enable the adoption of innovation and research and development outcomes.

“In such a short period of time, Rice Extension has broadened the knowledge, skills and connectivity of the rice community,” Mrs Plunkett said.

Learn more about Rice Extension initiatives via Facebook and Twitter @RiceExtension.