Economic Analysis of Improving Cold Tolerance in Rice in Australia

03 November 2005

The occurrence of low night temperatures during reproductive development is one of the factors most limiting rice yields in southern Australia. Yield losses due to cold temperature are the result of incomplete pollen formation and subsequent floret sterility. Researchers have found that in 75% of years, rice farmers suffer losses between 0.5 and 2.5 t/ha. Research is being undertaken to identify overseas rice varieties, that are cold tolerant under the local weather conditions and by using those genotypes as parent material, develop cold tolerance varieties of rice. A yield simulation model was used to measure reduction in losses due to cold at different minimum threshold temperatures, while the SAMBOY Rice model was used to measure the costs and returns of a breeding program for cold tolerance. The results of the economic analysis reveal that new cold tolerant varieties would lead to significant increase in financial benefits through reduction in losses due to cold, and an increase in yield from the better use on nitrogen by the cold tolerant varieties. The returns to investment on the research project are estimated to be high.