Rice has been a major staple in many countries and grown for over 7000 years. There are four major species of rice worldwide, over 100,000 subspecies in total, and only in China 8000 are grown out of these.
Also in China, 140 million tons of rice are grown annually, and other countries such as India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam also grow huge quantities of rice. Interestingly, in Brazil rice is also one of the main staples, but the quantity they produce is much more modest, around 15 million times yearly.
Why are rice fields flooded with water if rice can be grown in drier soil as well? We all know what a rice field looks like – it is practically covered in water.
In reality, rice doesn’t need much water to grow, but it is resistant to water and develops very well in high humidity conditions. Rice fields are flooded with water not because the crops truly need this. Wild rice, the ancestor of modern rice, already used to be grown in high humidity. Water is used as a method to fight with other plants that may grow in rice fields and make the rice crops less abundant.
Rice itself is resistant to water, while weeds are not. In several countries rice is cultivated in dry environment, and in such fields there is much less rice produced. The conclusion is evident: in case of other agricultural products lots of herbicides are used to enhance the production and to kill weeds, while rice is grown in completely ecological conditions. Clean and natural water is the only pesticide farmers need to use to save their rice crops. Ingenious and very healthy!