Why Aren't we Growing Rice in New York? Developing a new crop industry state-wide

We will develop a regional plan for advancing rice farming methods using Hilltop Community Farm at Cornell Cooperative Extension Tioga County for heirloom variety seed trials and agronomic research on paddy wetland and dryland drip-line irrigation systems. The project will also focus on smallholder farmer adoption of rice production, harvesting, and processing and storage technologies. We will develop ways to expand rice farming in NYS, including the types of infrastructure, equipment, and training needed to successfully support this emerging climate change crop state-wide.

Roles and responsibilities 

The selected CCE intern will assist with research on heirloom rice varieties suitable for NY climates and their growth and yield using paddy wetland versus dryland irrigated systems. The intern will have the opportunity to learn about Japanese smallholder farmer systems of rice and the ecological and economic benefits of adopting the technologies for early implementation of rice farming in New York. Proficiency in the Japanese language is helpful but not required. The intern will be mentored by a team of Cornell and CCE educators, especially by the successful Northern Vermont rice farmer, Erik Andrus, on advancing rice farming across the state. Interactions with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ducks Unlimited, The Lab of Ornithology, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, and several non-profit foundations focusing on sustainable and regenerative agriculture will broaden the intern’s understanding of ecological agriculture and the role of Cooperative Extension in advancing this forward. 

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to non-graduating students in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Courses in agriculture and natural resources. Language courses or proficiency in Japanese is helpful but not required.

Learning outcomes 

The intern will learn how to set up a field trial of heirloom varieties of rice using two contrasting agronomic systems. The intern will experience field measurements of soil quality, plant nutrition, and yield measurements. The intern will learn to develop a scoping review or assessment of establishing a new crop in NY while interacting with local and international farming communities.