| Late in
the Fall the remaining stubble in the rice field must be dealt with. The
straw is sometimes baled for cattle feed within a day or two of harvest.
It is also baled for other uses: erosion control, animal bedding, home
construction, building materials, etc. Unfortunately, baling is costly and
rice straw is not very valuable.
Most of the rice straw gets plowed back into the ground (upper left). Growers just want soil contact with the straw for maximum decomposition (center). The fields are then flooded with water from irrigation canals or rainfall. This will decompose the straw over the winter. It also creates a great environment for waterfowl during the winter migration.
Another option for disposing of the straw is to burn it (lower left). California growers are restricted in the number of acres that can be burned and a permit must be obtained to do so. Some diseases build up over the years and must be controlled by burning the straw.