Computerized programs are helping rice farmers forecast crop yield and determine what practices they can use to improve the outcome. The program, Rice Development Advisory, stems from extensive data collected over the years by researchers at the Texas AgriLife Research Center in Beaumont.
Though the databases were created with Texas rice research and farmers in mind, the data can be accessed globally, the researchers said.
"A person can access the data from anywhere, but it has the most application for U.S. rice-producing states," Yang said.
Wilson said a researcher working on any U.S. crop, not just rice, might use the climatic database to see how the growth pattern will be affected, for example.
He said that in addition to using the databases for farming decisions, the information can be used to help bioenergy companies decide where to locate.
"One of the uses might be to help determine where to locate a bioenergy facility based on the function of the land, what crops are grown in the area, how far the land is from major highways and other such factors," Wilson added.
He said the researchers are continually modifying and adding features to the databases and applications as situations and needs change.
He noted collaborations with scientists from other institutions, including one focusing on how to best control fire ants with parasites and other pathogens. Another area under development is the Rice Water Conservation Analyzer which will allow predictions of water use which in turn will help researchers and landowners make decisions on conserving water.
To learn more about research at the Beaumont center, see http://beaumont.tamu.edu.