Growing Rice? Check Your Computer

BEAUMONT, Texas, Sept. 21 (UPI) — Computers may soon take the unpredictability out of the nation’s rice farming industry, U.S. researchers say.

Figuring out how a rice crop was faring used to be a head-scratching exercise with a lot of guesswork, but now a few keystrokes on a computer can yield a forecast and tell farmers how to improve the outcome of a harvest, a release from Texas A&M University says.

A computer program called Rice Development Advisory uses extensive data collected over years by researchers at A&M’s AgriLife Research Center in Beaumont, Texas.

In the course of studying and creating improved varieties of rice, they accumulated mountains of data.

Now the data has been turned into computer database programs useful to farmers in decision-making, researchers say.

Combining the collected data in a usable computer format has been the work of Yubin Yang, AgriLife Research biological systems analyst.

“The obvious benefit would be planning for planting, irrigation, fertilizer application and harvesting,” Yang said of farmer use. He said about 300 Texas rice farmers and researchers have used the Rice Growth Development tool so far.

The A&M researchers say they work with rice farmers in more than 20 Texas counties and collaborate with their counterparts in many other rice-producing countries.

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