California is growing rice raised salmon

California rice growers in the Sacramento Valley are raising more than grain, their flood irrigated fields are also home to a crop of salmon minnows.

The current project between the California Rice Commission, University of California, Davis and NRCS aims to determine the benefits to the fish, but also help the salmon population recover.

Paul Buttner with the California Rice Commission says that they are looking at the difference between fish grown in canals versus fish grown in fields: “Baby salmon grow grow very rapidly in rice fields. Why, well it’s because of that jar of winter rice field water is exactly what they need to grow big and fast.”

They planted radio trackers in the fish and found that 4.5 percent of rice raised fish made it to the ocean, compared to only 1 percent of the canal raised fish.