Rice straw management is a major challenge in Australia. Currently, there are limited options for its use and due to its great abundance, low nutritional value and low density, most of it is currently burnt in fields soon after harvest. This is an efficient and economical way for farmers to manage the straw, sterilising the soil of weeds and pests and providing a good time to sow a following winter crop whilst exploiting any residual soil moisture left over from the preceding rice crop.
The report provides an overview of alternative options for rice straw other than open field burning, taking into account cost benefits for farmers and the industry and being cognisant of life cycle assessment. It presents agricultural producers and agro-industry with potential ways of creating value from low value rice straw in a sustainable way that may fit with farm operations. The key findings of the report are that there are a multitude of different options for rice straw that exist at two levels: single enterprise and industry.