The Yolo County Resource Conservation District is again making its Rice Straw Roller available to rent for decomposition of rice straw. The RCDs rice straw roller is available for the low rental rate of $3.00/acre. This rental rate is designed to encourage a field management practice that also benefits local and regional wildlife.
Rice straw rollers are a farm implement used to help break down rice straw after harvest. There are a number of approaches to getting rid of the large amounts of straw left after a rice harvest, but this method is one of the best for also providing habitat for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. The advantage to this method is that, besides putting the straw in contact with the soil so that breakdown can begin, it leaves the grain that typically spills out of a harvester on the soil surface for waterfowl to feed on during the winter.
The hollow cage roller is designed to be pulled through a shallowly flooded (approx. 4 inches) harvested rice field to mix the straw with the mud and begin the decomposition process. The best straw decomposition occurs if rolling is done right after harvest. This takes advantage of the warmer temperatures in the early fall, and water for re-flooding is also more easily available.
If you have questions about how to use a rice straw roller or the field conditions it creates, call the RCD and ask for Jeanette. Rental of the roller is arranged on a first-come, first-served basis, but it can be reserved ahead of time if you have an estimate for when you will need it. RCD contact: 530-662-2037 x 117, or firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many other potential uses of rice straw yet few are currently being used. The reasons appear to be related to 1) technical constraints, 2) economic feasibility, particularly related to the cost of removing straw from the field, and supply and storage problems.