Environmental Sustainability
Growers Background


The Australian rice industry is proactive in supporting our native environment.

Maintaining biodiversity on Australian rice farms is key to the sustained development of the rice industry into the future.

Bitterns in Rice

The Bitterns in Rice Project began in 2010 when a Riverina rice grower photographed a pair of Australasian Bitterns in his rice crop. Knowing little about these elusive birds he sent the photo to Birdlife Australia, who contacted the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia to investigate how they could work together to learn more about this endangered bird.

Through continued study the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia found that Australasian Bitterns nest and raise their chicks in rice crops.
Initial findings highlight the birds’ preference for aerially planted crops. We believe this is due to the practice of flooding rice crops with water earlier in the season giving the birds enough time to nest and raise chicks.

Providing habitat in natural wetlands, farm dams, drains and other areas are ways in which rice farmers help to conserve this endangered bird.

For more information please visit Bitterns in Rice at https://www.bitternsinrice.com.au/

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Minimising Water Use

Australian rice growers use on average 50% less water to grow one kilo of rice than the world average. They are also recognised for growing high quality rice varieties, which are suited to the Riverina region of Australia’s climate – this rice is known as temperate rice.

SunRice’s commitment to developing favourable rice varieties has ensured the continued decline in water use with each growing season.

Rice can only be grown on soil deemed suitable by the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia. These soils must have a high clay content which is thoroughly tested.

Australian rice growers can only grow rice when there is water available. Typically ricegrowers are allocated their water last – after the environment, towns, livestock and permanent tree plantings. Unlike permanent tree plantings, rice production can be switched on or off depending on water availability.

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Environmentally Sustainable Practice


Supporting Biodiversity in Rice

The rice industry was the first agricultural industry in Australia to develop a Biodiversity Strategy and Plan. This plan strives to ensure that plants and animals can live productively within the rice growing environment.

Rice farms provide habitat for over one hundred bird species such as brolgas, spoonbills, honey eaters, parrots and the endangered Australasian Bittern.

Findings from The University of Canberra have shown that around 500 million native frogs are found on rice farms throughout the rice growing region and the endangered Southern Bell Frog relies on the rice industry for its survival.

SunRice growers are implementing measures on and around their farms that strive to ensure that native plants and animals can live in harmony with the rice-growing environment. Some of these activities include planting and maintaining areas of native vegetation and ensuring Black Box and Red Gum woodlands are flooded occasionally to rejuvenate wetland species.

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SunRice growers strive to minimise their effects on the environment to maintain productivity and foster biodiversity

New Rice Variety

Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL), SunRice’s wholly owned subsidiary continues to seek improvements in rice growing through the development of new varieties.

In 2018, SunRice commercially launched a new variety of rice called ‘Viand’ in the Riverina region of Australia. This new rice variety is a short season and water efficient medium grain variety. It provides growers with an option to grow rice in a shorter window of time and requires less water to grow than other varieties on the market.

Changing weather patterns will continue to have an impact on global rice supply. The effects of climate change impacts on Australian growers’ ability to supply rice. The launch of Viand is another step in the right direction for SunRice to have a reliable supply chain in Australia, which can withstand an ever-changing climate.

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View our latest sustainability report here:

2018 Sustainability Report

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