Arkansas: U of A Hosts ‘Most Crop Per Drop’ Irrigation Contest

Rice harvest. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Are you the Arkansas rice, soy or corn producer who can get the most crop per drop? Find out by entering the 2018 Arkansas Rice and Row Crop Irrigation Yield Contest, presented by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Only the top entry in each commodity — one winner each for rice, corn, and soybeans — will receive an award.  A $10,000 cash prize will be the award for the contest winners in corn and soybeans. The rice winner will be awarded a Ricetec hybrid seed tote with a retail value of $12,000.

Awards will be presented at the Arkansas Soil and Water Conference in January 2019. The contest prizes have been provided by Ricetec, the Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Promotion Board and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.

“Arkansas growers are familiar with yield competitions like soybean’s ‘Grow for the Green,’ but there’s never been a competition that focuses on maximizing yield by maximizing water use efficiency,” said Chris Henry, associate professor and water management engineer for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“We thought it was time to have a ‘Most Crop per Drop’ contest that would highlight Arkansas farmers’ efforts to improve sustainability and profitability, which are paramount to the future of agriculture.” 

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There’s a $100 contest entry fee and entries are due by June 1. Entrants will need a portable flow meter to enter, but can request to borrow one from their Extension office. Sixty meters are available on a first come first serve basis.

The contest is open to growers of rice, corn or soybeans. Rice growers who use multiple inlet rice irrigation (MIRI) or alternate wetting and drying methods are eligible, as are cascade flood, furrow irrigation or sprinkler irrigation, in contour levee, or straight levee irrigation. However, zero grade fields are ineligible.

Based on observations from Cooperative Extension Service irrigation management demonstration fields over the last five years, “experience has shown that when applied effectively water use can be reduced by 24 percent on average with no yield reduction,” Henry said. “Reductions in water use of around 40 percent have been documented.”

This is essentially a standard yield contest but with the addition of a flow meter. 

Henry said the contest is the first irrigation contest of any kind in the United States.

“The contest is a real challenge,” he said. “It’s easy to maximize yield with unlimited inputs, but try doing it with just the right amount of rain and irrigation.”

To learn more about the contest, contact your county extension office or email contest@uark.edu.

Employees of the University of Arkansas System and their spouses may not enter. Board members, employees, spouses of the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board, Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Promotion Board, and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion board are ineligible for this contest.


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