Rice Shows Promise for Phytoremediation of Agricultural Pesticides

The American Society of Agronomy reports that rice plants could help remove chemicals from agricultural runoff before it reaches surface water. USDA Agricultural Research Service tests showed that in fields of rice plants flooded with a mix of water and three kinds of pesticide, the rice was able to remove 85% to 97% of pesticides from the water. USDA research ecologist Matt Moore says that this means rice could be planted in existing drainage ditches to clean water, and deliberately planted fields of rice could achieve higher levels of pesticide remediation. The next step for the researchers is to investigate whether contaminants end up in the rice grains, or whether rice grown for water cleaning could also be a food source.