Harry Strek

Rice is Life

Hi, my name is Harry and I am the Scientific Director of Bayer’s Weed Resistance Competence Center in Frankfurt, Germany. Today, I would like to explain how to best fight weeds and maximize yields in rice systems. But first, let’s take a look at the importance of rice for global food consumption.

Rice is one of the most important food crops in the world. With more than 475 million tons in 2016 the rice consumption was higher than ever before (Statista). Although an overwhelming 90% of the global production is located in Asia, rice’s share of total calorie consumption in the rest of the world is growing. It is a spectacularly diverse crop, both in the way it is grown and how it is used by humans.

Rice is unique because it can grow in wet environments that other crops cannot survive in. The domestication of rice ranks as one of the most important developments in history and now thousands of rice varieties are cultivated on every continent.

Let’s save the Future of Rice

Being one of the largest global staple crops, rice faces a serious threat: Weeds have always been a major impediment in the production of rice since the beginning of the history of its cultivation. Integrated Weed Management (IWM) understands the need to control weeds in rice crops and its importance for protecting yield potential.

It is a fundamental program in the production systems of rice farmers that enables the sustainable control and management of weeds in rice fields using methods designed to complement each other. It involves the use of a range of control techniques embracing physical, chemical and biological methods in an integrated fashion without excessive reliance on any one method.

Harry Strek
Harry Strek
Harry Strek
is the scientific director of Bayer’s Weed Resistance Competence Center and a strong promoter of Integrated Weed Management (IWM), a sustainable approach to weed control.
rice is life: rice production in Asia
rice is life: rice production in Asia
90% of the global rice production is located in Asia.

Rice paddies are the first example of using Integrated Weed Management to grow crops. The need to control weeds has partly led to the evolution of production systems around 12000 years ago using transplanted rice in flooded paddies. Flooding fields controls and suppresses weeds and gives rice seedlings a head start that helps them to compete better.

The use of herbicides in IWM programs helped to replace back-breaking manual labor, and to increase the efficiency of weed control. Historically, the rice paddy has been the ultimate proving ground for developing strategies for Integrated Weed Management (IWM). Today, we need to do even more emphasis on the benefits of IWM and to promote practices that include the integration of chemical (herbicides) and non-chemical (like water management, tillage) management practices in order to protect yields and help maximize farm income now and in the future.

Weeds have always been a major impediment in the production of rice.
Weeds have always been a major impediment in the production of rice.
Weeds have always been a major impediment in the production of rice.

Cultural weed control measures help to reduce weed populations and put crops into a better competitive position against weeds. In a few cases, such as for tillage, they can actually control weeds. However, if used exclusively in the absence of any other control measure, weeds can develop resistance to any practice, even to the oldest weed control method known to man, hand-weeding. As important as it is to find new herbicides that control resistant weeds, it has been recognized for over 50 years that a combination of cultural (like water management, tillage) and chemical (herbicides) approaches is best for sustainable weed control.

Today, we need to do even more on the farm, in industry, in distribution, as advisors – to emphasize the benefits of IWM and to promote practices that include the integration different management practices in order to protect yields and help maximize farm income now and in the future.

Combinations of cultural and chemical practices are more effective in controlling weeds in rice than either practice used alone

If you want to learn more about how to practice IWM in rice, please check out this brochure.

Get more information on Bayer’s IWM program at or by watching our YouTube podcasts, where my colleagues explain about the need for sustainable weed control and much more.

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