Each year at rice harvest time, it never ceases to amaze me just how huge the harvesting equipment is. When standing next to a rice harvester, a human basically looks minuscule in comparison. The ground actually shakes as the equipment lumbers by as it scoops up the rice grain dangling from the stalks of the rice plant. This is very large, very sophisticated and very expensive equipment.
The motivation for all this “bigness” is to get the grain off the field in a timely manner. One California rice industry executive said once that for purposes of getting high quality rice to the consumer, farmers had about a 48-hour harvest window. How do you get that much rice harvested in such a short amount of time? The answer seems to be with bigger and more efficient equipment.
The context? This equipment is used to feed both humans (rice is the most basic food on Earth, with just over 50 percent of the world’s population consuming it each day) and several of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan’s “Covered Species.” That is, when rice harvest is over, several species of wildlife feed on what remains on the ground, having been lost to the harvester’s maws. Humans and wildlife benefit accordingly, as each are happy to get this valuable nutrition. All made possible by big, efficient, harvesting equipment.