Rice: The Environmental Crop!

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The 2016 California Rice Harvest is over and our winter break is approaching! First we need to prepare the rice fields for the winter months by chopping and discing the straw so that we may flood the fields in order to aid the decomposition process. We also prepare our harvest equipment for the off-season by cleaning them and making any necessary repairs.

Full Transcript:

The 2016 rice harvest is over!

But there’s two things we need to do before winter vacation. And that is: prepare the rice fields and the equipment for the long winter.

First, let’s take a look at the conditions of the rice field. Now over winter we keep the rice fields flooded with about 4 to 6 inches of water to help decompose the straw that was left over. Now, I know what you’re thinking…

How did we get from cutting rice to the fields now flooded with water. Well, I entered that short explanatory video into a film contest and I’ll show you that in a few seconds. However I’d first like to say, thank you! Thank you very much for your votes and your support on the video contest. I received three times as many votes as any other video and that just shows me that my community, you viewers out in the internet world are extremely supportive. And with all my heart, thank you very much!

Now, the video’s two minutes, very short. Check it out and then we’ll head to the equipment yard and I’ll show you what we’re doing there.

So here’s the video in…

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These rice plants will be harvested today…

…and the rice, soon be on your plate.

Hi, my name is Matthew Sligar, a third generation rice farmer from northern California and I’d like to share, with you, one aspect of rice farming that elevates sustainability and environmental stewardship.

As the harvested rice is delivered to be dried, processed and packaged, we here in the rice fields are left with this straw. Watch how we prepare the vegetation for decomposition and witness a beautiful aftereffect–providing a natural habitat for migratory birds such as ducks, geese, shorebirds and many other species.

First we mow and chop the straw into smaller pieces. Then we lightly disc the ground opening the earth to aid the decomposition. This light groundwork does not bury the birds’ food sources and creates a more hospitable habitat. Next we lightly flood the field with only 4 to 6 inches of water, hoping to acquire some from rainfall. This creates a near natural habitat of wetlands and 60% of the food resources for our feathered friends that otherwise has been lost due to urban development.

These migratory birds that are dependent on wetlands have lost 90% of their natural habitat in the Central Valley. It’s important to the rice farmer to give back to the environment by providing this habitat…and we’re happy to do so. And we do so with California pride.

And the next bites of rice you take, you can be proud too.

Thanks for watching!

Well, I hope you guys enjoyed that video within the video. And again, thanks for voting guys. This rice field, by the way, is the last one that needs to get flooded before our winter break. It’s getting so close now I’m super excited.

Now, let’s take a look at the equipment.

Back to the shop.

California Ag Today, I’m Patrick Cavanaugh. Matthew Sligar is a third generation rice farmer in the Butte County area of Gridley.

Yeah, we just got done with rice harvest. We’re chopping the rice straw that is left in the fields, we’re discing it i all to aid in the decomposition. We’re flooding them with about 4-6 inches of water, creating a natural habitat for migratory birds. The rice fields turn white like snow because of the down feathers.

I’ll put the bike away in a moment but first let’s take a look at the equipment.

So here we are in front of the harvester and you may already notice one thing: we’ve taken the headers off. And that’s so we can easily get to the feeder house which is essentially the throat of the harvester. See this feederhouse chain here, we needed to replace that because it got worn out. Sometimes we take off the feederhouse so we can better inspect wear-parts like cylinder teeth, augers and sprockets. We’ve already changed some of the cylinder teeth on this combine as they were getting worn down as you can see here. On the other combine we had to totally replace the cylinder because it had a hairline crack in it. And here’s the cylinder that we took out.

Let’s head into the shop.

Some replacement parts that still need to be put onto the combine. Now, I’m not going to bore you with how much more work we have but I just want to let you know that we’re doing this now so that we don’t have to do it during the growing season because, obviously, we have plenty of other things to think about.

One last thing I want to show you though is something pretty cool over here on the Lexion. And that is some rice seed that is left over in the feederhouse here.

Pretty cool huh? It’s sprouting. This is the winter crop right here.

Alright guys, we’re going to get back to work on the combines–try to finish this out so we can go on vacation.

You guys have a great day!

We are so close to winter vacation I can taste it!