A piece of equipment recently donated to the LSU AgCenter will help advance crop research efforts, including projects on row rice, which has steadily gained interest among northeast Louisiana farmers in recent years.
Afton Groovers, a Tallulah business owned by Chase Noland and Kenneth Smith, donated a four-row groover to the AgCenter Northeast Research Station near St. Joseph. The equipment, valued at $25,000, is rolled across fields to create grooves.
“It’s brand new and was built specifically for the station,” said Melissa Cater, director of the AgCenter Northeast Region.
So far, the tool has been used in row rice fields to make grooves that are 7 inches wide and 7 inches deep to carry irrigation water to the plants, said Dennis Burns, AgCenter agent and research coordinator at the station.
Row rice has been growing in popularity in northeast Louisiana as farmers look for ways to diversify their crop mixes. Unlike conventional rice, which is grown in fields that are flooded, row rice is planted on flat ground without levees and irrigated.
As row rice has caught on, AgCenter scientists have launched a number of projects to learn more and to help area farmers successfully grow it.
Burns said several growers have begun using groovers.
“It is changing production practices in row rice,” he said.
The tool will be part of additional AgCenter projects in the future.
“The groover can be used in any crop, whether drilled or planted in rows,” Burns said. “At the Northeast Research Station, it will be used in a number of crops to explore the potential uses of it.”