Furrow-irrigated rice, also known as row rice, is increasing in popularity in rice-production areas across the Mid-South. The practice involves growing rice by only watering down irrigation furrows in a similar manner to upland crops like corn, soybeans and cotton. The advantages to the system include putting rice in production on land that may have more slope that makes it unsuitable for growing flooded rice, the ability to make last-minute cropping decisions and a decrease in water use in some years.
Weed control, nitrogen fertilization and blast control are some of the challenges associated with the system. Blast can be controlled by planting one of the more blast-resistant hybrids or varieties. Overlapping residual herbicides is the best strategy for weed control in this system.
Nitrogen fertilization is where we have the most questions that need to be answered. One thing we do know is that alternating from a saturated soil to a dry soil repeatedly will cause nitrogen use efficiency to be reduced compared with our preflood nitrogen applications in traditionally grown rice.
So how much more nitrogen fertilizer do we need to apply in furrow-irrigated rice systems? Do we need to split nitrogen fertilizer applications two, three or four times to maximize efficiency? How many days apart should we wait between nitrogen applications?
Is the use of urease inhibitors on urea even more critical in this type of system? In order to answer these types of questions and establish best management practices for furrow-irrigated rice production, we have begun research with the system at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley.
The furrows for the research were made by using a custom hipper-roller similar to those used in commercial production in north Louisiana and throughout the Delta, although the implement is on a much smaller scale and facilitates perfectly spaced research plots.
The furrow-irrigated research plots were planted on March 15 at the station. Research will evaluate nitrogen fertilization rates and timings, which will be compared to similar treatments in drill-seeded delayed flood rice.
The RiceTec hybrid CLXL745 and the Clearfield variety CL153 will be evaluated in the studies.