Nazirahk Amen
Nazirahk Amen
  • Dairy Reporter
Maryland Farmer Growing Rice on Dry Land
2/14/2015 7:00 AM
By Philip Gruber Staff Writer

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Rice farms are mostly associated with flooded paddies, but the flooding is really just a weed-control technique.
Unlike most other plants, rice can draw oxygen to its roots through its leaves and create an oxygenated environment in the first few inches of the soil.
“That’s how it can grow in water,” said Nazirahk Amen of Purple Mountain Organics in Takoma Park, Md.
Amen is running variety trials on upland rice, which is grown on dry land like corn or wheat, with grants from USDA and the University of the District of Columbia.
He spoke about his research Feb. 6 during the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s Farming for the Future Conference at The Penn Stater.
A natural medicine practitioner and a member of the Nahziryah Monastic Community, Amen tries to grow as much food for his family as he can.
He already grows fruits and vegetables on a small farm, and the rice has been a good way to vary and improve his diet, he said.
Amen grew up in Louisiana, one of the country’s top rice producers, and ate the grain almost every day. “It’s one of my favorite things to eat,” he said.
Rice growing in Louisiana is very much a large-scale endeavor.
The farmers there may seed their fields by airplane; they use glyphosate-resistant varieties, a trait obtained by breeding with wild red rice; and they flood their fields. When the weeds come up, farmers flood the fields and raise crawfish, Amen said.
They get big yields, too. Traditional paddies can produce 7,000-10,000 pounds of rice per acre, he said.
Flooded rice paddies, though, produce huge amounts of methane, more per acre than even beef feedlots. Upland rice produces much less methane, Amen said.
He is growing rice on a much smaller scale: four plots, each 80 by 100 feet. That sort of scale lends itself to lucrative direct-to-consumer selling.
Commodity rice sells for roughly $19 a barrel, which is about 150 pounds. Amen said a Maryland produce and grain farmer he knows gets more like $12 a pound retail and $8 a pound wholesale for his rice.
“There’s a big difference” in those prices, he said.
Dryland rice has drawn increased attention since the system of rice intensification, or SRI, was developed in the 1980s by a Jesuit missionary in Madagascar.
Henri de Laulanié was trying to help poor farmers improve production on existing land rather than slash and burn ever more rainforest, according to Cornell University’s rice research center.
Under SRI, farmers cut back to the minimum amount of water, saving half of the grain’s water usage.
SRI also reduces planting populations compared with traditional paddy systems, cutting seed costs up to 90 percent, Amen said.
Wider spacing allows the rice to tiller more and produce more heads from fewer plants, Amen said.
SRI can increase yields by 20 to 100 percent, and it cuts methane emissions. “They’re trying to help rice-growing go into the future in a sustainable way,” he said.
Amen planted on newly cleared land on a University of the District of Columbia research farm. “We spent 2013 cleaning the field,” he said.
As a grass, rice is hard to distinguish from weeds, so direct-seeding is a bad option. Amen started the plants in trays and transplanted them.
Amen planted two varieties, Duborskian, a Russian variety with expensive seed, and Koshihikari, a type common in Japan.
“We were sort of limited by what we could actually find,” Amen said. “You can’t just buy rice off the Internet” in agricultural quantities.
Amen used a two-row transplanter, but he had to hand-plant a third row in the middle of his plots.
Because he had no flooding to control weeds, Amen used biodegradable plastic covers in the rows and New Zealand white clover between the rows, he said.
Amen seeded Duborskian on April 17 and Koshihikari on May 6. He transplanted in late May and early June.
Amen said his rice-growing colleague told him he planted the Duborskian too thinly because the ground was still visible.
By the beginning of July, Duborskian was visibly heading, and by the start of August, “everything started to brown up real nice,” he said.
Koshihikari grew much slower but ended up with a lusher stand, he said.
Although Amen never flooded the fields, he said he made sure they was saturated during the milk phase.
Like other grains, rice goes through a milk stage and is harvested after it dries down. Rice can be harvested below 24 percent moisture, though 18 percent is better, he said.
Amen had a hard time finding small-scale harvesting equipment.
There are not a lot of suitable machines in the United States, and most of those are owned by universities or seed companies, and considered “research” equipment.
“Once they brand it research,’ they double the price,” Amen said.
He finally bought a Massey Ferguson research combine with a 5-foot header for $7,000. By the time he outfitted it to harvest rice, Amen estimated the machine cost $12,000.
“That turned out to be a good deal,” though the search for used equipment continues, he said.
Amen harvested the Duborskian on Sept. 22, though he probably could have done so sooner. The stand had a lot of lodging, he said.
Amen harvested the Koshihikari on Oct. 31. The rice probably could have gone a few weeks longer, but a heavy frost was coming the next day, he said.
By the time the Koshihikari was ready, the Duborskian rice had regrown enough that Amen could have made a second harvest.
Some paddy growers in the Deep South do a second harvest, but it is not common because the crawfish business is more profitable, Amen said.
Dryland rice typically yields half of what a paddy does, less than 3,000 pounds per acre, though one researcher has gotten dryland rice to equal paddy yields, he said.
In his first year growing rice, Amen got 3,000 pounds per acre from Koshihikari and 1,600 pounds per acre from the Duborskian.
“In the world of dryland rice, those are actually really good numbers,” he said.
Amen and the people he gave the rice to agreed it was the best they had ever tasted. “Fresh rice tastes much different than the rice we get out of the store,” Amen said.
Fresh rice and aged rice, which has been stored for three years, are both delicacies favored by people of various ethnicities, he said.
Amen leaves the hulls on the rice until he has a sale. The grain loses half of its nutrients in the four months after hulling, and the rice moth can damage the unprotected rice. “On-demand is best,” he said.
Dryland rice does have some challenges. Flooding fields releases phosphorus from salts, so dryland rice may make it more difficult for the plant to get the phosphorus it needs, Amen said.
Rice puts out a chemical that inhibits other plants from growing, including other rice, so crop rotation is important, he said.
The main pest of Amen’s rice was the rice stink bug, which is gold-colored.
Amen is unsure where they came from, but just as the grains were forming, the stink bugs were “waiting to just suck that milk right out of there,” he said.
Cucumber beetles and Japanese beetles seemed to like the rice plants, though Amen was less concerned with them.
The farm is fenced, so Amen said he had no deer.
Amen was encouraged by his first year of growing rice in the Mid-Atlantic. He has acquired several more dryland varieties he can experiment with next year.
Amen believes dryland rice has the potential to be a profitable crop in the Northeast. If he can feed himself and find a market for the grain, all the better.<c> Photo by Philip Gruber
Nazirahk Amen of Purple Mountian Organics speaks about his upland rice trials[ACJ1] .

Maryland Farmer Growing Rice on Dry Land
New Headstone
New Headstone

Thanks to those of you who donated towards the purchase of a new headstone for Neville and Modeste Landrieau Briscoe. Due to the rain on Sunday we were unable to visit the gravesite for our dedication.
The grave is located in the rear of St. Charles Cemetery in Grand Coteau, La.

Lafayette Doctor Named ABCA Chiropractor of the Year

Posted: Jul 25, 2012 5:17 PM by KATC


Dr. Quentin M. Brisco of Lafayette, LA has been named Chiropractor of the Year by the American Black Chiropractic Association. The honor was announced at the organization's 2012 Annual National Convention held in Miami, Florida. The American Black Chiropractic Association (ABCA) was established in 1982 by Dr. Bobby Westbrooks to unify minorities, primarily in the practice of chiropractic.

In a career spanning just less than 5 years, Dr. Brisco has become a recognized leader amongst African-Americans in the chiropractic field. The ABCA's Chiropractor of the Year award was established to recognize and honor a member in good standing who performed at an exemplary level during the previous year.

"It's a thrill to be respected at a high level by your peers," said Brisco. "This came as a surprise, and I am honored and thankful to be recognized by the American Black Chiropractic Association for my work in the profession."

Brisco received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Texas Chiropractic College near Houston, TX in 2007 and his Bachelor of Science from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA in 2001.

Since coming back home to Louisiana to practice at the end of 2008, Dr. Brisco has been involved in the community and has been a mentor to student-athletes. He also serves as a high school official for both football and basketball in the Acadiana area. Dr. Brisco stated, "being a former high school and college standout athlete officiating is a way to keep me close to the game."

Dr. Brisco practices at the Richardson Chiropractic Group which is located at 107 South College Road, Lafayette, LA. Dr. Brisco focuses on sports injuries, headaches, backaches, personal injury, workman's comp, and other physical injuries and conditions that may require rehabilitation.

Denise Lorraine Edmond
Denise Lorraine Edmond

Denise in New Zeland
Denise in New Zeland

Preparing for Calgary.
Preparing for Calgary.
Denise L. Edmond will be representing New Zeland in Calgary, Canada August 11-15, 2012 in the sport of Waka Ama(Outrigger Canoe).

New Zeland has a long history of world class pereformances at IVF World Sprint Championships of note 2006 through to 2010 New Zeland has enjoyed significant success at this event.

Congratulations to Denise on your selection, all the very best in your training endeavours over the next  month and good luck in Calgary.

Denise is the daughter of Lawrence and Pauline Ozene Edmond(Matthew Ozene, Ida Briscoe Ozene, Neville Briscoe) of Grand Coteau, LA.

Denise is the 5th person in the boat. Picture above.
Meghan Elizabeth Jean
Meghan Elizabeth Jean
Congratulations to Meghan Elizabeth Jean and her Rebel Revue Dance Team for coming out 5th in the Nation for Hip Hop for the NDA at  the Disney World Arena in Florida. Meghan is the Co-Captain of the dance team and will be a senior at Teurling Catholic High School (Lafayette, LA) in the fall.

Meghan is the daughter of Jamison(Ann Coco Jean, Germaine Ozene Coco, Ida Briscoe Ozene, Neville Briscoe) and Cindy Breaux Jean of Breaux Bridge, LA.

April 2009 Cover of Upscale Magazine with article featuring home make-over by cousin Olivia Nezey
April 2009 Cover of Upscale Magazine with article featuring home make-over by cousin Olivia Nezey
Cousin Olivia Nezey's Featured Make-Over Article ps.1&2
Cousin Olivia Nezey's Featured Make-Over Article ps.1&2
Cousin Olivia Nezey's Featured Make-Over Article ps.3&4
Cousin Olivia Nezey's Featured Make-Over Article ps.3&4
American Society of Interior Designers Excellence Award 2009
American Society of Interior Designers Excellence Award 2009
Cousin Olivis accepting American Society of Interior Designers Excellence Award
Cousin Olivis accepting American Society of Interior Designers Excellence Award
Cousin Olivia Nezey
Cousin Olivia Nezey

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