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Meet the Speakers
Dr. JosephMassey Research Agronomist USDA-ARS 870-680-8317 662-418-0081 joseph.massey@usda.gov
ScottWhitaker Arkansas Farmer Trinity Farms 870-222-7428 jsdwhitaker@gmail.com
Session Number: IR5-2
About this Session

Comparing Levels Of Rice Irrigation Automation In NE Arkansas

Presented by:  Dr. Joseph Massey, Research Agronomist, USDA-ARS

At least three issues warrant interest in rice irrigation automation: increasing farm size, chronic labor shortages, and groundwater depletion. The first two can negatively impact a producer’s ability to refine irrigation practices at scales necessary to address regional water issues. Moreover, a growing number of opportunities to participate in corporate- and/or government-sponsored sustainability programs feature alternate wetting-and-drying flood management. Such efforts would benefit from the refined irrigation control and digital documentation offered by automation technologies. Field trials on three NE Arkansas farms compared different levels of automation to their respective manual controls in terms of irrigation savings and yield. Measurements of time to install/remove sensors and observations of automation reliability were also made.  Results from a related modeling effort suggest that early cascade rice irrigation shutoff (ECIS) can save water on par with multiple-inlet rice irrigation (MIRI). A companion poster describing ECIS is being presented.


Carrying On Tradition Of Rice Farming Through Weed Control, Water Management. The Keys To Sustainable Agriculture

Presented by:  Scott Whitaker, Arkansas Farmer, Trinity Farms

Whitaker will present the methods used on the Whitaker farm to reduce water usage, such as zero-grade rice fields, automated irrigation wells along with water sensors in the field; he will also discuss the reduction of greenhouse gases through practices such as alternate wetting and drying, along with reduced or no-till methods for preparing fields for the following year, while also speaking about the importance of timely herbicide applications to reduce trips across a field. A sixth-generation Southeast Arkansas farmer, Scott David Whitaker is a 2021 graduate from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science with a minor in Sustainability. During his time in Jonesboro, he was employed by Lance Ramthun for two years, scouting rice, beans, and corn throughout northeast Arkansas. He was also employed one year by Dr. Michele Reba and the USDA, assisting with collecting and testing water samples throughout Arkansas. “I am proud to be back in Southeast Arkansas on my family’s farm, working on many sustainable efforts. My primary role is rice consulting on 8,000 acres +/-of zero-grade continuous rice. Created through a collaboration between RiceTec, and Whitaker Grain, SmartRice® is the first third-party verified sustainable rice product grown using more sustainable methods to reduce agricultural resources and provide more rice to meet the growing worldwide appetite. SmartRice® answers consumers’ call for more sustainable products. The Whitaker family is a multi-generation farming operation in South Arkansas, raising rice, cotton, soybeans, corn.