Have you ever heard of “chalky grains?” It is a widespread disease in growing rice when the temperature is high. The lower price of chalky grains makes the rice crop less profitable. Moreover, chalky rice crushes easily during milling.
But it’s not to worry about?
You can use nitrogen fertilizer to reduce chalky grains. However, you need to be careful about the amount of nitrogen fertilizer. If the amount of fertilizer is higher than the desired level, it will lead to higher protein levels.
Higher protein means rice of poor quality. Moreover, the viscosity of the cooked rice will also be low.
Therefore, a delicate balance is vital between acceptable protein levels and preventing chalky grains while applying nitrogen fertilizer. To avoid this problem, a researcher in the Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center named Hiroshi Nakano is making efforts. His research is recently published in Agronomy Journal.
National Agriculture and Food Research Organization Biooriented Technology Research Advancement Institution of Japan support this research.
Methodology of research
Researchers use two different devices to take two measurements in the current research.
- One test measures the amount of nitrogen that a plant can uptake.
- The other test measures how much nitrogen is present in the leaves of rice plants.
Besides these tests, researchers also determined when to take these measurements.
Contribution of research
Nakano says, “Our goal is to facilitate the stable production of rice in a changing climate. It is important to establish an ideal nitrogen application rate using growth diagnosis. In this study, we identified useful factors to regulate white-back grains (one type of chalky grain) and protein content.”
Moreover, he mentioned that plants need different nitrogen content in different growing conditions. For instance, mid to late June is the time for transplanting the rice seedlings in Southwestern Japan. And the rice grains develop from July to October. It indicates the differences in weather and growth each year. So, you have to adjust the content of nitrogen fertilizers according to growing conditions.
Nakano aims to develop innovative ways to protect rice from the effects of climate change. Moreover, he mentioned that 36% of farming land in Japan is used for rice production. But, the higher air temperature during the ripening stage of rice leads to the development of white-back grains.
Now the question is, how valuable is this research for farmers.
Well, it helps farmers adjust the nitrogen content. Moreover, it allows farmers to ensure that they apply the nitrogen at the right time. If you’re successfully determining the right time to use nitrogen fertilizer, you can regulate the protein content and reduce the chalky grains.
Nakano recommends farmers use handheld meters to make growth diagnoses to ensure it. These meters are affordable and allow farmers to harvest high-quality rice.
But, if farmers have a lot of rice fields, it might be challenging to get enough data. For this purpose, researchers suggest using an unmanned aerial vehicle to take these measurements. Moreover, the researchers are optimistic about solving all these food security issues without compromising the rice quality. The main reasons for developing these security issues are the rising temperature and the growing population.
Why is this research necessary?
According to Nakano, the percentage of white-back grains increases with the air temperature. Air temperature is expected to increase soon due to global warming. It means there are chances of an increase in the percentage of white-back grains. Moreover, around 50% of the global population relies on rice as a staple food. Therefore, it is essential to do this research for the sake of farmers and consumers.