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Arcadia Biosciences hails field trials of new rice

By From page A4 | September 15, 2013

Field trials in Colombia of new nitrogen-efficient rice show increased productivity, leading to increased food security and reduced dependence on fertilizer, Davis-based Arcadia Biosciences Inc. reports.

Arcadia Biosciences is an agricultural technology company focused on developing technologies and products that benefit the environment and human health. Arcadia did the field trials with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

The completion of two years of field trials of nitrogen use efficient (NUE) rice in Colombia was announced last year. In both years, African Nerica rice with Arcadia’s NUE technology produced significant yield increases relative to conventional Nerica rice, a news release reported.

(Nerica is an acronym for new rice for Africa.)

At 50 percent of normally applied nitrogen fertilizer, NUE rice lines out-yielded the conventional Nerica control variety by 22 percent in the first-year trial, and by 30 percent in the second-year trial, Arcadia reported.

“These results for NUE Nerica rice, combined with earlier results in Japonica rice and our recently announced commercial milestone for NUE Indica rice, clearly demonstrate the efficacy of NUE technology in all major types of rice,” said Eric Rey, president and CEO of Arcadia.

“There is clear potential for NUE technology to make a major contribution to global food security while also reducing the carbon footprint of rice farming.”

As the world’s second-largest crop, rice plays a critical role in food security for more than half of the world’s population, Arcadia said. In Africa, rice is one of the most cultivated and important food crops.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, farmers in sub-Saharan Africa produce about 20 million metric tons of rice annually, yet the continent imports 9 million metric tons, which is valued at $4 billion. Most of the rice in sub-Saharan Africa is produced and consumed by small-scale farmers who are often constrained by the cost and availability of new technologies that could help them increase food output.

Agriculture is the world’s second-largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions, the news release said. Nitrogen fertilizer, applied to increase crop yields, is one of the largest contributing factors to these emissions.

With conventional growing practices, crop plants absorb less than 50 percent of nitrogen fertilizer applied to fields. Much of the remainder becomes a water contaminant or is volatilized as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

In some countries, rice is among the most nitrogen-intensive crops. Globally, rice production accounts for nearly 16 percent of total fertilizer use. Arcadia’s NUE technology can significantly reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer and simultaneously improve food security, enhance farm economics and minimize greenhouse gas emissions from rice farming, the release said.

Arcadia Biosciences Inc. has offices at 202 Cousteau Place, Suite 200, in Mace Ranch. For more information, visit www.arcadiabio.com.

Enterprise staff

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