Doug Knight in one of his fields of Reiziq rice sown on 20 October and responding to the ideal growing conditions in the southern Riverina.

A commitment to rice is paying dividends

Incorporating stubble and pig manure into their rice-growing fields appears to be a successful move for ricegrowers Doug and Mary Knight.

Incorporating stubble form previous crops and pig manure into their rice-growing fields appears to be a successful move for southern Riverina ricegrowers Doug and Mary Knight.

Mr Knight said he is progressing along that path because of the improvement he is noting in the soil structure of his fields.  

“I think putting the stubble back into the country, and last year spreading two and half tonnes of pig manure to the hectare I think the soil types have improved radically in two or three years,” he said.

“Even looking at the crop this year, it is a lot darker and I think it is a lot healthier than the last lot we did and just think it is because of improving the soil out of sight.”

Mr Knight is hopeful the incorporation of stubble and pig manure into his fields will result in increased yields.

On their 194ha property “Stansfield”, Denilquin, which they have owned for the past 14 years, the Melbourne-based business couple grow rice because they believe their returns are higher per hectare than comparable summer crops.

Mr Knight spends as much time as he can on the farm, but he said they only have 120ha approved for rice, and the balance of their country, which is totally set up for irrigation is either sown to wheat or lucerne depending on the rotation.

It is a matter of prioritising his time, according to Mr Knight as a big area is just as much to manage as a small area when it comes to growing rice.

“My theory is I would rather be here to look after 100ha than 20ha, so my plan is to plant rice every second year,” he said.

The current rice crop of 100ha was aerial sown into fields which under been pre-planted with 100kg/ha Urea, following a wheat crop.

“I actually mulched all the stubble and put it back into the ground … I’m a little bit anti-fire … and this year after I’ve finished harvesting the rice I’m going to mulch all the rice stubble back into the ground,” Mr Knight said.

“It will then be spelled for 12 months and planted to rice in two years.

“We have done stem-cell counts and spread 130kg/ha at PI (Panicle Initiation).”

Mr Knight has sown Rieziq because of the premium associated with producing the medium grain rice, but also because it is a shorter stemmed variety. 

A flock of 150 ewes are kept to graze the banks and keep them clean.

“There is a lot of controversy as to whether you should clean them or leave them,” Mr Knight admitted.

“Three years ago I had the banks as clean as a whistle, but I have left them long on purpose this year.

“I think it gives the rice a bit of protection but that is debatable.” 

Although they have a bore and are connected to the Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) system, Mr Knight purchased 1000mg water last July to be certain of having enough to grow their crops as he expects to use about 1400mg.

“Our crops look absolutely magnificent,” he said.

“We had a good start and with plenty of heat, and conservatively ten but 12/tn/ha.”

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