A team of Canadian and Chinese researchers has identified "superstar" variations of rice that can reduce fertiliser loss, which will help farmers cut costs.
The variations can also reduce environmental pollution in the process.
Rice varieties that the researchers identified belong to both Indica, the type of rice commonly grown in India, China and Southeast Asia - and Japonica (the rice used in sushi) genotypes.
Research said that Zhongjiu25 (ZJ25) and Wuyunjing7 (WYJ7) were the most effective genotypes among Indica and Japonica varieties, respectively.
Author Herbert Kronzucker, Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough said, "We have this bucolic idea of agriculture - animals grazing or vast fields of majestic crops - but the global reality is it's one of the biggest drivers of environmental pollution and climate change."
Kronzucker in partnership with a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences looked at 19 varieties of rice to see which ones were more efficient at using nitrogen.
"Anything we can do to reduce demand for nitrogen, both environmentally and for farmers in the developing world struggling to pay for it, is a significant contribution," Kronzucker said.
Researchers identified a novel class of chemicals produced and released by the roots of rice crops that directly influence the metabolism of soil microbes.