A Lot to Learn at NELA Row Rice Field Day

Group of people gathered at edge of bright green rice field watches drone demonstration
Drone demo
Jul 23, 2019
MER ROUGE, LA -- Last week, growers in Louisiana’s northeast rice country gathered here at Jason Waller’s farm for the Northeast Louisiana (NELA) Row Rice Field Day.  Along with updates from Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter personnel, Dr. Dustin Harrell kicked off the event with an impromptu demonstration of the AgCenter’s new spray drone.

Dr. Harrell and his team were working on field trial locations while attending the field day, and took time to demonstrate the versatility of the drone, and talk about future applications that may be beneficial to researchers and growers with drone usage.
Waller, a rice farmer from Mer Rouge and Keith Collins, county agent with the LSU AgCenter, discussed the details of this year’s row rice field trial, and answered questions about the practices used.  Waller also thanked growers in attendance for supporting the Louisiana Rice Research Board through their generosity of the rice check off programs, and reminded everyone, “This is your research trial.  Anytime you want to stop by these plots and look at the different varieties and their progress, you are welcome.  Give me a call, and I’ll try to answer any questions on what we’re seeing in these trials over the season.”
Collins said there is still much to learn about the various aspects of row rice production.  “We’ve learned a lot about what practices work, and certainly what practices don’t, but as the popularity of row rice in our region continues to grow, we learn more with each passing day.”
Following the field tour, the group reassembled in Mer Rouge for lunch and the remainder of the program.  Scott Franklin, president of the NELA Rice Growers Association, opened the forum indoors by welcoming everyone and recognizing three area students as recipients of this year’s scholarships that are awarded annually by the group.
Next, researchers Dr. Adam Famoso, Dr. Boyd Padgett, Dr. Trey Price, and Dr. Sebe Brown, provided reports on rice varieties and soybean updates for the region.  

USA Rice staff gave an update on the organization’s activities including status of the state’s rice crop following Hurricane Barry, highlights of the U.S. Rice Industry Sustainability Report, and what’s on tap at the USA Rice Outlook Conference this December in Little Rock, Arkansas.  
Franklin summed up the importance of the Row Rice Field Day and the investment in research by the Louisiana Rice Research Board for NELA growers:  “Today’s huge crowd shows us how interested producers are in furrow irrigated rice production.  It is still not a perfect science, but from experience I can tell you that it has a very bright future in northeast Louisiana.  We can grow anything in this part of the world and I am thrilled that more people have found a way to grow rice.”