Rice is one of the most beautiful crops in the world. The level of the water is critical to the well being of the plant. Ideally, there should not be more than a two-inch variance in the depth of the water within a field. For this reason, you see the beautiful curving lines of levees around the fields of rice. Winding terraced fields are formed in the following manner: Start at the highest point of the field and then go out as far as possible without dropping more than two inches in elevation and make a levee. If the land is not flat, then the levee will not form a perfect circle or square. It will take its own unique winding shape. From that first levee, go out as far as possible and make another levee without dropping more than 2 inches in elevation. Continue in this manner throughout the field. Pump water into the field of highest elevation and then allow the water to flow over a level control gate into the next field and then the next. The result is a very strange and beautiful pattern of fields surrounded by winding levees.
Rice farming in the U. S. is the most advanced in the world. Rice fields are leveled with lazers and shaped into large square fields with less than a one inch difference in elevation. (A laser beacon is placed in the center of a field and set to send a perfectly level signal all across the field. A land leveler is set to receive the signal and adjust its blade to a precise elevation to level the ground.) In the spring, the large tractors with disks (exceeding 20 feet in width) till the soil to kill weeds and prepare a seedbed. The soil is leveled and fertilized. Some farmers roll small groves into the soil to give the seeds a location to settle during planting. Rice seeds are put in water for a couple of days to allow germination prior to planting. The seeds are then put in agricultural airplanes where they are dropped from the sky into the flooded fields. The airplanes use satellite guidance systems to mark their locations and assure perfect overlap on the seeding.
The water level is then carefully raised over time to follow up the growing plant and prevent any weeds from growing in the rice. Any fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides are applied by airplane. Several weeks prior to harvest, the water is pulled off and the land is allowed to dry. Large combines with cutter bars over 20 feet wide enter the field and cut the rice and thresh the rice. The straw is mulched and spread back onto the field. The rice is put in trucks and carried off to commercial dryers where it is dried in large column dryers and then placed in the paddy form into storage bins.