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Spreading The Word
Informal blogs bring rice perspectives from field to screen

By Carroll Smith
Editor
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Today’s means of communicating with one another socially, professionally or for educational purposes has expanded our capabilities exponentially as well as added new words and phrases to the general public’s vocabulary in the 21st century.

For example, take the words “blog” (a noun) or “blogging” (a verb). A blog is defined as a Web log or an online journal written in a diary-like format. Blogging refers to the act of writing a blog, and, of course, the person blogging is a blogger. The terms sound odd, but the concept is becoming more and more popular as a way of complementing information or thoughts provided through a magazine, newspaper or Web site.

And the rice industry, which is always looking for innovative ways to use technology, has enthusiastically jumped on the blogging bandwagon to accomplish several goals.

Editor’s blog: Rice Farming
In recently redesigning www.ricefarming.com, a new feature – the Editor’s blog – was incorporated into the Web site. The purpose of the blog is to connect with rice farmers and other people related to the industry via an informal online commentary.

The Rice Farming blog assumes that most of its readership is already familiar with rice production, rice industry issues and terminology. It’s just another way to stay in touch and up-to-date between issues of the magazine. Following is an excerpt from a recent Rice Farming Editor’s blog that was posted on the site:

It’s mid-March, and we are finally getting some warm, pretty days after months of rain and clouds. You can tell it’s almost time to plant when you can actually smell the damp earth, whether it’s out in your rice field, in a backyard garden or even in a flower bed.

It smells of hope and a fresh beginning. After an awful weather-related harvest last fall, many folks were heard to say, “Just wait till next year.” Well, next year is here, and it’s time to roll. Crank up the planters, and let’s see if Mother Nature will be a little more cooperative this year.

…Each generation passes down knowledge based on experience to the next generation and so it goes. Listen to the wisdom of those who have “been there, done that,” but don’t be afraid to try some new things, too. There’s a lot of new technology that complements the tried and true.

It’s spring. So get out there, plant and nurture your crops and hopefully enjoy a bountiful harvest this fall. After I plant my flowers and prune my plants, I look forward to heading out to the rice fields. See you there…

The Rice Farming Editor’s blog will be updated at least once a month and probably much more often during the growing and harvest seasons this year.

Reaching those outside the industry
Out West, the California Rice Commission (CRC) (www.calrice.org) took a different approach with its blog campaign. Instead of primarily targeting people familiar with the crop and its issues, the organization is using its blog to reach out to people who are not involved in the rice industry.

 
Rice insects blog launched
 

As the popularity of blogging continues to grow, some folks in the rice industry are addressing a specific topic for their rice-growing area.

A good example is LSU AgCenter entomologist Natalie Hummel who has launched a Louisiana rice insects blog. Anyone can access and read the blog at the following link:
louisianariceinsects.wordpress.com.

“I plan to update every couple of days, or as frequently as appropriate, to inform you about new developments in the Louisiana rice Extension entomology program,” Hummel says. “I’ll keep each blog brief and to the point. Please provide comments if something is of interest to you, or if you have ideas for future programs and research.”
 

Tom Butler, a fourth generation producer who farms rice with his father, Steve, in Sutter and Yolo Counties, says, “We are trying to provide information about what is involved in growing rice in California as well as explain the ways in which the rice industry benefits our area. The goal of the CRC blog is twofold in that respect.”

Following is an excerpt from Butler’s Jan. 21 blog that points out how drought conditions can affect not only local rice farmers but also local communities as well:

For the past few years, the threat of a water supply cut due to drought conditions has been weighing on the rice farmers in my area and the surrounding rural towns like Robbins and Knights Landing as well. Many in the local communities, from the local restaurant, the employment of its residents and, of course, the John Deere dealership in Robbins, depend on agricultural dollars. Seeing the inches of rain accumulate puts a lot of minds at ease for the time being.

Nicole Van Vleck, a third generation California rice farmer, also contributes to the CRC blog. She tries to write about a rice topic that “resonates with people who are not necessarily involved with rice and make sure I can convey a message that’s not too technical in nature, something that they can follow if they don’t have a background in rice. For example, the blog that I posted on April 1 was about the solar energy system that we have in our operation that helps generate power for our rice dryer,” Van Vleck says.

After only being on the CRC Web site since January, the CRC blog is already the second most popular page on the site and was read by nearly 1,900 people in March.

“This [CRC blog] is one way that our 2,500 family farmers can get helpful information to the general public,” says CRC Communications Manager Jim Morris. “There is a great need to educate those not on the farm about what happens in California rice, covering everything from how the crop is grown to the tremendous environmental benefits from rice fields. This blog is one effective way to do it, taking advantage of some of the latest communications technology.”

As mentioned earlier, the terms blog or blogging are new, different and don’t roll off the tongue that easily yet. However, the concept and what it can help us accomplish in the rice industry is real and here to stay. It’s the world in which we live.

Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or csmith@onegrower.com.


Hotlinks

Editor’s blog for Rice Farming magazine:
www.ricefarming.com

California Rice Commission’s blog:
www.calrice.org

LSU AgCenter entomologist Natalie Hummel’s blog:
louisianariceinsects.wordpress.com

LSU AgCenter farm decision tool Web site: lsuagcenter.com/en/crops_livestock/crops/rice/Publications/

Valley Irrigation Rice Blog
http://www.circlesforrice.com/index.aspx?mid=8795


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