Is there any ‘waste biomass’ in a rice system?

Harvesting rice 14.11.2010 (Picture by Vichida Tan)

Last week, we had a practice run harvesting rice in trial plot formation. It is essential to ensure that each plot harvested is the same size (for example the same border is left to account for the border effect in each plot), and that the area harvest matches exactly with the area where the biochar was applied (not so easy when the plots are in 1.5 feet of water! The harvested straw with rice was then weighed, then the rice thrashed (in this case using the traditional method involving stamping on the harvested straw), and the paddy (rice with husk) weighed. After this the paddy is dried, and then milled to remove the husk. Other processes such as polishing the rice, or colour sorting can be done in more high technology mills.

So what happens to the ‘waste biomass’ (and is there even such a thing as waste biomass in this system)?

– Straw – used as feed for cattle (which are used for ploughing the field),
– Husk – used to make rice wine (then the then the char put in the field),
– crop stubble – Left in the field and ploughed in (soil amendment)

Rice straw is used as cattle feed. 14.11.2010

In this case there is no biomass which is either left to rot, or burned for no purpose. However where rice is taken to other mills, the husk is often left in large piles, and where this is not all used for gasification, we can call it ‘waste’.


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