In 2018 Australian rice growers initated a review of the Rice Research and Development (R&D) levy to ensure that there would be sufficient research and development funds to continue important work round varietal development and water use efficiency. The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) and AgriFutures Australia (previously RIRDC) managed the review process with broad stakeholder engagement.

As a result of the review Rice Growers voted to increase the R&D levy from $3 to $6 per tonne. The review process indicated that this increase would deliver benefits for all growers in all rice growing regions through significantly increasing returns per megalitre of water. It would sustain the research effort and capacity in years of low rice production and offer greater security of funding to support research, development and extension (RD&E) projects.

Read more about the R&D Levy here

New rice varieties


It often takes more than 10 years to develop a new variety of rice.

“Sherpa” was released to growers in 2011. After extensive research, it was found to have good cold-tolerance, down to 11.5 degrees Celsius, meaning it requires less water in which to grow. It also has a positive yield potential.

In 2014, a new premium fragrant rice variety, "Topaz" was released. It was developed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries in partnership with the Rural Industries Research Development Corporation, SunRice and Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd and was bred for Australia's temperate rice growing conditions. In market testing in Hong Kong, Topaz outperformed other fragrant rice varieties for taste, appearance and flavour.

New varieties are grown and evaluated on their water use, yeild in the paddock, length, colour and transparency of grainand their cooking quality and time.


Agrifutures Rice R&D Program

The aim of the AgriFutures Australia’s Rice Program is to improve the profitability and sustainability of the Australian rice industry through the organisation, funding and management of a RD&E program that is both market and grower driven.

The Australian rice industry is a world leader in production efficiency, water use efficiency and environmental management. Its high quality export focused production achieves premium prices in world medium grain rice markets. This status is directly attributable to RD&E funded by statutory levies paid by growers, which are matched on a dollar for dollar basis by the Australian Government.

Research investments are guided by the Rice R&D Advisory Committee in accordance with five year R&D plans. The plan identifies four key objectives for RD&E:

  1. Rice breeding – varietal and quality improvement
  2. Development of an aerobic rice system
  3. Farm productivity – crop inputs, crop protection and the farming system
  4. Extension, communication and partnership development
Visit the AgriFutures Australia R&D Program website for information about current R&D projects, rice publications, news and updates.


Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL)

RRAPL is a wholly owned subsidiary of SunRice, undertakes rice varietal and agronomic research and development in partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and AgriFutures Australia. RRAPL operates a leased farm in the Riverina for its activities. It conducts breeding trials, cold tolerance research and other agronomic trials. RRAPL is also part of a number of international research and development projects.


Most of the equipment used on rice farms is fitted with computer-aided devices that allow our growers to manage their techniques with accuracy.

GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and Precision Farming

Uses satellite networks to precisely match crop needs with crop requirements.

Computerised Whole Farm Design and Laser Landforming

Uses computer aided design (CAD) and laser technology to design efficient farm irrigation systems. Laser landforming ensures the most efficient use of water. Farmers have precise control over the flow of water on and off the land.

GIS (Geographical Information Systems)

GIS is used to organise geographical information which is then stored digitally on a database.

Remote Sensing

Spectral imaging obtained from satellites and aircrafts assists with the planning and management of the farm system. Farmers can calculate the exact capabilities of their farm by identifying enterprises to suit each area.

Aerial Machinery

Experienced agricultural pilots use satellite guidance technology to distribute seeds and other inputs across a rice bay with precision and accuracy. This works hand in hand with precision farming.

The rice industry invests heavily in research and development into innovative ways of producing rice, using less water per tonne grown.

This has led to the development of water efficient rice varieties, better crop management and more sophisticated drainage and recycling systems and improved irrigation layouts to reduce water loss.