2014 Rice Research Station Field Day A Success


   The 2014 Missouri Rice Field Day, hosted by the Missouri Rice Council in cooperation with Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) and the University of Missouri (MU) took place last Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Missouri Rice Research Farm near Glennonville. The theme of the field day was advancements in agricultural technology, as well as, discussions on the current rice research being conducted at the research farm.
   The information was provided to the rice growers at three tour stops at which three separate presentations were made. One of the talks presented by MRM of East Prairie was on the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’s (UAV), i.e. drones in agriculture, as well demonstrating the UAV in action. These days the industry is shying away from the term “drone”, because of other connotations, and instead prefers terms like “unmanned aerial systems (UAV), unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and my personal preference, aerial robots”, said Dr. A.J. Foster, University of Missouri Extension specialist in Stoddard County.
   Foster’s research on another technology, remote sensing using handheld Greenseeker sensors to evaluate the nitrogen (N) status of rice, was another field stop talk. The goal of using the Greenseeker in rice is not so much to increase yield, but to decrease the amount of mid-season nitrogen being applied. His study had 7 treatments of various amounts of N, including a treatment based on Greenseeker recommendations. The results so far this year are showing lower mid-season application amounts of approximately 10 lbs. less N using the sensor approach.
   Dr. Donn Beighley, of SEMO and the Research Station director, helped organize the field day, along with Dr. Michael Aide (also of SEMO), and Sam Atwell, MU agronomy specialist-rice. Beighley explained that presentations were cross-linked together. For example, presentations on nitrogen started at the basic building blocks with presentations by Dr. Gene Stevens and David Dunn (both of the MU Fisher Delta Research Center [FDRC]) on N-rates and soil testing, then to the use of mid-level technology with hand-held sensors, and finally to the futuristic technology of aerial robots.

   Aide’s presentation on furrow-irrigated rice, was a topic discussed in length earlier this month at a half-day conference held at SEMO’s Malden campus. At the field day rice growers were able to view the furrow-irrigated plots. Atwell and MU FDRC’s Dr. Jim Heiser, anchored the weed management theme, with presentations on weed control and wind drift control.
   In a growers’ survey farmers indicated that their average fuel bills for pumping in 2014 were $38, $40, and $27/acre for diesel, propane, and electricity, respectively. On a weighted basis to acres irrigated, multiple side-inlet was being used in 68 percent of the fields. Around 70 percent of respondents had at least some dead-level fields. USDA/NASS’s 2012 Census of Agriculture indicates that the number of Missouri rice farmers (who on average tend 450 acres of rice) is just short of 400. The attendee number this year was 103 (not counting the 13 high school ag students), so nearly a quarter of the MO rice farmers took the opportunity to hear the presentations, as well as, sample some of Tasteful Creations Catering’s rave food prepared by chef Karen Campbell.
   An ever important topic for rice growers is rice economics, which was discussed by John Anderson of GM Lawrence at one of the stops, and then again by both Greg Yielding who discussed rice economics and market opportunities and by Steve Morrison (USDA/FSA) who explained the farm bill as key-note luncheon speakers.
   Where do rice growers go to for information on rice farming? Well, you’re clutching the answer in your hands! Ag weeklies led the list with an average score of 6.5 out of 10. On the other end of the scale, none of the four listed scholarly journals even managed to get beyond a rating of 0 (“never use”), so academia fizzles out with hip-booted, pickup-driving Missouri rice growers. ∆
   DR. JOE HENGGELER State Irrigation Extension Specialist, University of Missouri-Delta Center
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