Arkansas Rice Expo shows N tests and more
A major advance in soil testing for nitrogen fertility, a possible future rice variety and research on managing weeds and diseases were presented in a field tour of research projects at the Arkansas Rice Expo Aug. 1 at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's Rice Research and Extension Center near here.
More than 1,000 visitors attended the field day, which began with a meeting of Arkansas legislators on the house and senate committees on agriculture, natural resources and economic development. Cooperative Extension Service staff members provided displays and demonstrations on cooking, landscaping, 4-H activities, healthy lifestyles and other topics.
Keynote speaker Rep. Rick Crawford, First District congressman from Jonesboro, said research at the center helps Arkansas farmers increase yields and profitability, "and ultimately the consumer benefits in terms of being able to pay lower prices at the grocery store.”
Chuck Wilson, interim director of the center, said 11 resident faculty members and about 25 other Division of Agriculture scientists conduct research at the center. They often collaborate with scientists at the nearby USDA Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, he said.
Wilson said research is supported by Arkansas farmers through check-off programs for rice, soybeans, corn and grain sorghum.
“We were very pleased about the number of people who came out to see our research and learn about what we do and how we can be a resource for all Arkansans,” Wilson said. Videos of some field day presentations are available at http://www.youtube.com/arextension.
Trent Roberts, research assistant professor of crop, soil and environmental sciences based in Fayetteville, said up to 5,000 soil samples will be processed in the first year of the Nitrogen Soil Test for Rice. The test, called NST*R, is the first to provide site-specific recommendations for nitrogen fertilizer in rice.
Expansion of the capability to analyze more soil samples will be based on the level of interest by producers, Roberts said. County extension agents will provide details on soil sampling, which can begin in the fall. The current test is only for rice on silt loam soils. Protocols are being developed for rice on clay soils and wheat on silt-loam soils, Roberts said.
Current nitrogen fertilizer recommendations are based on how rice varieties typically respond to nitrogen rates applied on a particular soil type. This often results in too little nitrogen for optimum yield or too much, Roberts said. Too much nitrogen not only wastes money but also can make plants more susceptible to disease and leave nitrogen in water that drains from the field, he said.