Rice plants may help clean waste­water from farms

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - SCITE H - —PTI

Rice plants can be used to clean wa­ter drain­ing from farms — which con­tain pes­ti­cides — be­fore it gets into rivers, lakes, and streams, sci­en­tists sug­gest.

Re­searchers wanted to stop pes­ti­cides from get­ting into the wa­ter out­side the farm in a way that was easy and cost-ef­fi­cient for farm­ers.

“We wanted some­thing that was com­mon, that could be ap­plied in a lot of dif­fer­ent places, but some­thing that’s non-in­va­sive,” said Matt Moore, a sci­en­tist at the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

Re­searchers planted four fields, two with and two with­out rice. They then flooded those fields with a mix of three kinds of pes­ti­cides plus wa­ter that to­gether is a lot like runoff dur­ing a storm. They did this for two years in a row.

They found that the lev­els of all three pes­ti­cides were lower in fields where they’d planted rice. How much it dropped ranged from 85 per cent to 97 per cent, de­pend­ing on which pes­ti­cide they mea­sured.

Rice can do this through phy­tore­me­di­a­tion — us­ing plants and their roots to clean up wa­ter.

In real life, this pes­ti­cide­clean­ing abil­ity of rice could be used in a few ways.

Farm­ers could plant rice in drainage ditches al­ready on their farms, which would “let rice clean off wa­ter that runs off into your field be­fore it runs into a river, lake, or stream,” Moore said.

Ad­di­tional re­search is re­quired to find whether the chem­i­cals end up in the ed­i­ble part of the rice plant — the rice grain — it­self.

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