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RCD’s Rice Straw Roller is Available for Rent

The Yolo County Resource Conservation District (RCD) is again making its Rice Straw Roller available to rent for the decomposition of rice straw this fall and early winter. The RCDs rice straw roller is available for the low rental rate of $7.50/acre. This rental rate is designed to encourage a field management practice that also benefits local and regional wildlife. Rice straw rollers are a farm implement used to help break down standing rice straw that remains after harvest and begin the decomposition process in preparation for spring. There are a number of post-harvest straw treatment methods, but this approach helps provide and enhance habitat for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Excess rice grains left over after harvest serve as a crucial food source for overwintering birds in the Sacramento Valley. Rolling rice fields combines the straw into the soil, allowing breakdown to begin, but leaves the excess grain on the soil surface where it is more accessible to waterfowl. Rolled fields also offer better visibility and, when flooded, more open water than fields with standing rice straw. Research suggests that these factors can contribute to higher migratory bird densities in rolled fields. Migrating birds share a mutually beneficial relationship with rice fields as they visit the Sacramento Valley on their journey along the Pacific Flyway. The hollow cage roller is designed to be pulled through a shallowly flooded (approx. 4 inches) harvested rice field to mix the straw with the mud and begin the decomposition process. The best straw decomposition occurs if rolling is done right after harvest. This takes advantage of the warmer temperatures in the early fall, and water for re-flooding is also more easily available. If you have questions about how to use a rice straw roller or the field conditions it creates, reach out to Conor Higgins, Mobile Irrigation Lab Manager by calling the RCD at 530-661-1688 or by emailing at  Rental of the roller is arranged on a first-come, first-served basis, but it can be reserved ahead of time if you have an estimate for when you will need it.
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