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Rice growers turn to computer for advice, predictions
Date:9/21/2010

BEAUMONT - Figuring out how a rice crop was faring used to be a head-scratching exercise with predictably unpredictable results.

But now a few punches on a keyboard can yield a pretty close forecast for a rice crop and tell a farmer what changes could improve the outcome at harvest.

The program, Rice Development Advisory, stems from extensive data collected over the years by researchers at the Texas AgriLife Research Center in Beaumont. They methodically accumulated reams of data in the course of studying and creating improved varieties of rice.

As technology improved, the researchers have been able to recrank the data into computerized programs useful to farmers in decision-making.

"It's a fairly old idea," said Dr. Ted Wilson, center director. "What we are doing now is a logical extension of previous methods where information had to be entered into a computer by hand. "We do a lot of work on how crops grow and how pests develop. The problem is that if you are compiling numbers for one location, it is not too hard. But when one has several locations, it's a logistical problem to keep track."

The team of rice researchers at the Beaumont center work with rice farmers in more than 20 Texas counties and collaborate with their counterparts in many other rice-producing countries.

Combining the collected data in a usable format has been the bailiwick of Dr. Yubin Yang, AgriLife Research biological systems analyst at Beaumont. He and the team of researchers have spent years building climatic and soil databases and devising programs to accurately predict rice development. He's done the same to develop other cropping system applications, such as a post-harvest grain management program and a rice water conservation analyzer.

Farmers are increasingly using the modeling software online and researchers around the world have drawn on the components pertaining to the climate, soil and weather, Yang said. He ca
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Contact: Kathleen Phillips
ka-phillips@tamu.edu
979-845-2872
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
Source:Eurekalert  

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