Every irrigator knows the value of a drop of water and when water allocations are hovering around zero each drop counts.
Nuffield Scholar Mark Groat said for the rice industry, efficiency, in terms of production per megalitre and return per megalitre were critical.
The ricegrower made his way from Myall Park to South America, China, India and the United States to examine how other farmers worked with the water they had.
That study tour was supported by AgriFutures Australia and what became clear was Australian ricegrowers were among the most productive when it came to rice yields.
"We are world leaders in terms of rice yield per hectare, but I wanted to better understand how we compare to the rest of the world in terms of our water use efficiency," Mr Groat said.
He found in north-west India growers were using a 110-day rice variety compared to a conventional 140-day variety.
They were able to avoid extreme heat in mid-May and June before planting and then using monsoonal rain, reducing the need for irrigation water.
For MIA growers, achieving water efficiency was about striking the right balance - heavy clay soils, crop genetics and improving irrigation technology and planting techniques.
Most rice in the region had traditionally been grown under a 140 day flood.
"We have planting techniques which enable us to cut down to a 70 day flood without compromising quality and yield," he said.
"It's like watering a wheat crop, you flush the bay and get a profile and then drain it all it."
The water saved could mean ricegrowers could use it for growing more rice or not buying in extra water off the temporary market.
However, the challenge in becoming more efficient with using water could reduce the time that rice paddies are used as complimentary habitat to native species like bitterns.
"A lot of ricegrowers feel that rice is considered as a fairly inefficient crop, but you walk into a rice paddy and listen to all the birdlife and see the frogs and tadpoles," he said.
"How do you measure that?" he asked.
In the Mississippi Delta in the US, Mr Groat said farmers owned everything beneath the ground from soil, to water and minerals.
And while farmers could easily sink a pump to draw water, it meant underground aquifers were under stress.
"No rules means it's a race to the bottom," he said.
"Efforts in the region to address aquifer overdraft are aimed at irrigation efficiency, however uptake has been very low."
While in Australia water would go to the highest bidder in the market, when the water was available farmers could secure yields of up to 15 tonnes per hectare.
"Rice is a bit more of an opportunistic, you can decide today to grow a crop tomorrow, there's less preparation compared to cotton and corn," he said.
"This is an extremely challenging time for the Australian rice industry, but it's also a time of immense opportunity."