Furrow irrigated rice, or row rice, is a production practice that has been utilized in the Mid-South region since the late 1980’s. Furrow irrigated rice has spread in popularity across the Mississippi River Delta Region in recent years. Much of this popularity is driven by the attractive yield potential, reduced input usage (e.g. labor), and efficient use of water. In the Delta Region, much attention for alternative rice irrigation practices rests on the potential for reduced groundwater withdrawal. Ongoing research is being conducted in areas of variety performance, nitrogen use efficiency, weed control, and irrigation efficiency by several land grant universities. Furrow irrigation and alternative wetting and drying (AWD) practices are at the forefront of water use research due to their potential to reduce water use without reducing yields. While both water management practices have the potential to reduce water use, quantity and timing of seasonal rainfall also plays a large role in the amount of water use of each water management practice.
Furrow irrigated rice is expected to increase significantly across the Mid-South this spring given the increased focus on farming sustainability and the announcement of furrow irrigated rice being covered by crop insurance. In Louisiana, furrow irrigated rice acres are expected to increase from just over 15,000 in 2019 to nearly 30,000 in the spring of 2020. However, it is important to note that weed control, fertility, and field cultivation activities can be difficult to quantify with this new practice as there are currently no university recommended best management practices that have been evaluated for economic efficiency. The use of chemicals and fertilizer may increase but potential cost savings may come in the way of reduced field passes (times over) and alterations in irrigation scheduling/timing. This report attempts to present a partial budget for the production of furrow irrigated rice in Louisiana. The production of furrow irrigated rice may vary from farm-to-farm based on the fact that this practice is relatively ‘new.’ Information from agricultural popular press, as well as, experimental data from both grower cooperators and LSU AgCenter experts are summarized in the following section. While research is ongoing, this economic report is intended to provide an estimated range of input costs per acre and sensitivity analysis of net returns above variable cost per acre.
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