A vivid memory of my elementary years was the time my classmates and I used to get rice hull from a nearby rice mill. We grouped ourselves by twos and each of the pair would hold each of the ends of the sack that contained rice hull and we would put them in our “green house” compound for composting.
Rice hull, or rice husk, is the yellowish lightweight covering of rice and is a byproduct of the milling process. The Philippines produces large quantities of rice hull because rice farming is one of the main source of livelihood in our country.
As the rice production increases, the volume of this agricultural byproduct also increases and difficult to dispose. Rice hull is composed of 20% silica and also a large amount of lignin, the combination of which makes the rice hull resistant to water penetration and fungal decomposition.
Thanks to research and invention as well as personal experience that man learn now how to use rice hull efficiently for home and garden use. I have compiled them here:
- Mulch – Mulch is any material applied to the surface of the soil, the purpose of which are to maintain moisture in the soil, prevent weeds from coming out the soil, prevent the fruits of some plants from touching the dirt in the soil (such as the case of strawberries), and make the plant area more attractive. Rice hull can be the mulch that we can use for our garden as it is more affordable (free in the rural areas) and clean to look at.
- Medium for planting – There are plants that require a fast-draining soil, such as cacti and succulents. If you don’t have lava rocks, perlite or pumice, fret not. Most cacti and succulent lovers and sellers just use an amount of rice hull mixed with potting soil. I use an estimate of 50% rice hull and 50% soil. Rice hulls create spaces and pores in the soil too, which give plant roots good aeration.
- Fertilizer – This is what we did back in our elementary school days mentioned earlier. According to a study, composted rice husk improves the growth and biochemical parameters of sunflower plants. The result showed significant improvement in the growth of the plants as compared to the controlled group which was not treated with the same. Just like other composted organic material, composted rice hull improves soil fertility and the soil fauna by nourishing the microorganisms present in the soil, things necessary for the growth of plants. The carbonated rice hull (CRH) is also a good soil conditioner. It contains minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium that are essential in growing crops. There are garden shops, both with a physical store and online, that are selling CRH per kilo or per sack, but if you want to make your own, you can check out this page that details a step-by-step process of making carbonated rice hull.
- Fuel – In 2014, Engineer Alexis T. Belonio invented an eco-friendly cooking stove known as rice husk gasifier. As the name implies, this stove uses only rice hull or rice husk as its fuel and you can already produce fire. Since rice hull is free in the rural area and sold cheap in the urban, imagine how much we can save by using this alternative! This stove also emits less carbon dioxide when in use, the more it becomes friendly to the environment. The rice husk gasifier is a great alternative for people who aims to be frugal while being helpful to nature–that’s hitting two birds in one stone. Currently, it has already innovated to a multifuel gasifier stove. You can check out their Facebook page, Belonio Rice Husk Gas Stove – “Biolexis” for more information and price of the product.
Aside from their home and garden use, rice hull has been in use as well as a building material, animal bedding, insulation, and biomass fuel for generating power plants. Who would now say rice hull is a waste?