University of California, Davis, scientists are helping rice farmers in Uruguay stop polluting their waterways -- including drinking-water sources and a globally valuable nature reserve.
With funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, the UC Davis researchers helped Uruguayan university colleagues devise a simple water test that tells whether it is safe to drain flooded rice fields.
The test checks for the herbicide clomazone, which is used on 78 percent of Uruguay's rice fields.
Developing best rice-farming practices to avoid release of toxic chemicals to the environment is especially urgent in Uruguay, because water drained from the country's main area of rice cultivation flows into the marshlands of the Eastern Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de Biosfera Humedales del Este). This reserve is managed as part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Program, which promotes environmentally sustainable human development.