MANY environmentalists don’t believe we should be growing rice in Australia. I disagree. Rice suits a land of drought or flooding rains. Unlike almonds, grapes and other perennial crops, rice doesn’t need water every year. It’s an annual crop that can be planted only when there is an excess of water.
John is a third generation rice grower in the Wakool District. His grandfather began growing tomatoes, later they tried millet, tobacco and even cotton.
The family has found that the climate and heavy clay soils suit rice.
John didn’t grow rice during the recent drought because while he had a water licence, he didn’t have a water allocation.
The extreme variability of rainfall at Wakool is managed by government issuing irrigation licenses which are subject to seasonal allocations. When water is short, allocations are minimal or zero.
While it is fashionable to claim there is “over-allocation” in the Murray Darling Basin the reality is that when water is scarce during drought, government limits the amount of water for agriculture.
More photographs here of John and my good friend Catherine amongst the rice.