The Oryzonte project, whose name comes from the scientific name for rice (Oryza sativa), was born from the commitment of the companies Mars Food (Uncle Bens®), Herba Ricemills (Grupo Ebro) and Danone. The project kicked off in spring 2018 aiming to improve the sustainability of rice cultivation in Seville (Andalusia, Southern Spain). Since then, the project has developed, tested and validated protocols to reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation. The project has also implemented a training programme for key rice growers in the region.

Experiments 2018

Building on previous research and on farmers experiences, the project has developed protocols for reducing water use and GHG emissions in Seville rice farms.

These protocols were implemented in experimental plots during 2018, in a farm with access to water of medium-to-good quality. In each experimental plot, key parameters such as electrical conductivity, water flows or water availability in soil were monitored.

The implementation of these protocols has permitted to significantly reduce water use whilst maintaining the yields.

Training Programme 2018

A Training Programme has been set up for technicians and farmers of key rice growing companies. The training programme covered 5 key modules, focusing on: a) International sustainability standards (FSA and SRP); b) Management of salinity and alkalinity in soil and in irrigation water; c) Enhanced nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization; d) Sustainable use of herbicides and prevention of resistances; and e) Agri-environmental measures in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020.

What actions are being carried out in 2019?

During 2019, we are testing the protocols again in the experimental plots in order to validate the results achieved in 2018. We are also implementing some of the protocols in 4 pilot commercial farms with different soil and water conditions. At the same time, we are working with the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture of the Spanish National Research Council to assess the results of scaling-up the application of the protocols at the farm level.

We are also measuring Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from rice fields under different management scenarios. This measuring is key to quantify current emissions and to validate the reduction in GHG emissions achieved when applying specific techniques promoted by international organisations such as the International Rice Research Institute.

The project is also developing a training programme for 2019, complementing the one carried out during 2018. We are also working on the identification of measures for Andalusia to be promoted in the new Strategic Plan (CAP post 2020) to be implemented voluntarily by rice farmers.