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Meet the Speakers
Dr. Michele L.Reba Research Hydrologist, Lead Scientist USDA-ARS 870-680-8256 870-819-2708 michele.reba@ars.usda.gov
ScottWhitaker Arkansas Farmer Trinity Farms 870-222-7428 jsdwhitaker@gmail.com
Session Number: IR5-2
About this Session

A Decade Of On-Farm Water Resources Research:  Lessons Learned And Future Efforts

Presented by:  Dr. Michele L. Reba, Research Hydrologist, Lead Scientist, USDA-ARS

Impactful agricultural research can be accomplished through many avenues. One path is to work at a smaller plot scale with control on several variables and multiple replicates, while another is to work at the farm or field-scale. Working at this larger scale often reduces control of multiple variables and limits the number of replicates. However, the link to management and current management challenges can be more readily related to findings at the larger scale. Communication between producers and researchers is also key to success. The Delta Water Management Research Unit began working at the field-and farm-scale in 2011. They have grown these research efforts since then to work with multiple producers in the Lower Mississippi River Basin. Now, a decade later, lessons learned and specific findings from on-farm research will be highlighted and include field-scale greenhouse gas emissions, field-scale and farm-scale runoff water quality, and rice irrigation impact on water use efficiency, yield, grain quality, and arsenic, and impacts of cover crops in a rice-soybean rotation. Additionally, future research studies will be described.

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.