Arkansas Rice Farm Tests the Waters

Aug 10, 2017
USA Rice staffers Josh Hankins (left) and Frank Leach go deep on water conservation
OSCEOLA, AR -- On Tuesday, USA Rice staff participated in the Mississippi County Water Management Field Day here.  Hosted by Mike Sullivan, a rice farmer from Burdette, Arkansas, the event was an opportunity to spotlight the innovative approach Sullivan has employed to facilitate water conservation on his farm.

In consultation with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Sullivan’s tour included four neighboring fields with different approaches to irrigation:  traditional cascade flood, Multiple Inlet Rice Irrigation (MIRI), Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD), and row rice.  The water used on each field has been recorded during the irrigation cycles, with noticeable differences in the amounts of water used.

“The key to this deal here is we are trying to find ways to be more efficient and conserve water because there are many counties in Arkansas that have groundwater challenges,” Sullivan said.

USA Rice, through the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership, has helped champion water conservation for rice farmers through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  The RCPP secured funding for projects like the Mid-South Graduated Water Stewardship Program, which was awarded $7 million to be used for rice-specific projects in Arkansas, Central and Northeast Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Josh Hankins, USA Rice Stewardship Partnership Coordinator, is based in Little Rock and led the development of the Mid-South Graduated Water Stewardship Program.  

“The USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership is excited to see our RCPP efforts making such a large impact on irrigation in Arkansas,” said Hankins.  “We are increasing the awareness of these techniques and technologies, and it's great to hear more people in the Mid-South include water management shop talk wherever they gather – in organized field days like this one or in the local coffee shop.”