Rice — Very Old Food, Very New MethodsRice has been part of a staple diet for thousands of years. Historically grown using large amounts of water, including flooding of rice paddies, new methods of production are being developed to allow the grain to be grown in areas outside its historic geographic base, and to do so in ways that optimize the use of available water.
Inventors Jacob L. LaRue (Omaha, NE) and Germani Concenco (Uberaba, Brazil) apply new methods of clean tech rice production in patent US Patent 8,087,201 “Method for irrigating and fertilizing rice”, issued on January 3, 2012 and assigned to Valmont Industries, Inc. (Omaha, NE). They seek to both irrigate and fertilize rice using a sprinkler irrigation system. They determine the amount of water and fertilizer to be applied to the rice through the sprinkler irrigation system. Depending upon rainfall, the irrigation water may be applied to the rice an average of about one to two times per week between its planting and emergence, about two to three times per week between its emergence and its panicle initiation stage, about three to five times per week between its panicle initiation stage and its initial ripening stage, and about three to four times per week between the rice’s initial ripening stage and its harvest.
Clean tech aspects of their invention that meet our patentECO definitions include their recognition that “water shortages [are] becoming ever more frequent in many rice-producing regions around the world, [and] efforts have been made to explore other growing techniques in order to reduce the overall water requirements, improve production, and increase overall economic return … a need exists for a method of growing rice utilizing a sprinkler irrigation system wherein the irrigation applications are applied in amounts and at times to optimize the efficiency of the water applied. A need also exists for a method of growing rice utilizing a sprinkler irrigation system wherein fertilizer and pesticide are applied in amounts and at times optimal for curtailing unwanted weeds and other constraints to rice production.”
Claim 1 states:
"A method for irrigating and fertilizing rice using a sprinkler irrigation system, said method comprising the steps of:
providing a sprinkler irrigation system;
determining an amount of water to be applied to the rice based on external factors;
determining an amount of fertilizer to be applied to the rice based on external factors;
applying water to the rice through said sprinkler irrigation system wherein, between a combination of irrigation water and rainwater, the rice receives an average of between about 6 and 25 mm of water per week between its planting and its emergence from the soil’s surface, an average of between about 13 and 75 mm of water per week between said emergence and its panicle initiation stage, an average of between about 19 and 102 mm of water per week between said panicle initiation stage and its initial ripening stage;
and applying a fertilizer to the rice through said sprinkler irrigation system."
Improve the Crop — Protect the SeedsAnother important approach to improving agriculture in the clean tech arena focuses on yield enhancement. Harald Walter (Rodersdorf, Switzerland) and his co-inventors seek to improve crop yields at the seed stage, prior to planting. Patent US8198215, “Methods for protecting seeds” was issued June 12, 2012 and assigned to Sygenta Crop Protection LLC (Greensboro, NC). The invention provides a method of controlling phytopathogenic diseases on useful plants or plant propagation material by applying a fungicide incorporating trifluoromethyl or difluoromethyl, which they state is particularly effective in controlling or preventing fungal diseases of crop plants.
One of the clean tech aspects of their approach is by applying pesticides to crop seeds in a targeted way that addresses the need for reducing environmental and worker exposure compared to foliar or soil pesticide applications. They say that their method “is especially suitable to increase the yield and/or quality of useful plants, such as crop yield of crop plants.”
You can learn more about the patentECO sphere of clean tech at Way Better Patents.