Fields-Eye View

Tools, technology and training in real time on the turnrow

Most rice farmers are familiar with the high-profile items used in producing a crop and regulations related to managing their employees. However, Rice Farming has compiled a short list pertaining to tools, technology and training that may not have crossed every producer’s radar screen yet.

Rice Scout App
A smartphone application to help rice farmers with their crop was released by the LSU AgCenter at the annual Rice Research Station Field Day last summer. Several subjects covered with the Rice Scout app include insects, diseases, fertility and weeds.

“By no means is this app intended as a substitute for LSU AgCenter experts,” says Johnny Saichuk, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, one of a team of developers. “It’s good to have something in people’s hands to identify a pest or a problem they are looking at on the spot.”

The app includes photos of insects, weeds and diseases, as well as conditions related to rice fertility. A step-by-step process helps a user identify the pest or condition with photographs, then explains what can be done. Steve Linscombe, director of the Rice Research Station, said if a user needs to talk with an LSU AgCenter Extension agent, the app has links to make a telephone call for help.

It also has links to several LSU AgCenter publications on rice, including the Louisiana Rice Production Handbook. The app is available for use by computers with Internet connections. Because it is Webbased, the app will be updated automatically by the LSU AgCenter. The app is available online for loading on a mobile device or a desktop computer at http://rice-scout.lsuagcenter. com.

Rice Drill Calibration
Proper calibration of your drill is very important. To help with this process, the University of Arkansas developed a rice drill
calibration worksheet that you can download and use at home. This worksheet provides answers to two questions: 1) How much
seed should I catch at my desired seeding rate? and 2) How many pounds of seed per acre am I planting?

Section 1 allows you to enter your drill spacing, target seeding rate – seeds per pound of the cultivar you plan to grow – and gauge wheel circumference. With this information entered, the worksheet will tell you the number of seed you should catch from one drill row per wheel revolution or per row foot; and the weight of seed collected from one drill row per wheel revolution or per row foot.

Section 2 allows you to enter the same information as Section 1 but without a target seeding rate. After you also enter the number of seed collected, the worksheet will tell you how many pounds per acre, seeds per acre, seeds per square foot and seeds per row foot that your drill is currently set to plant. A link to the spreadsheet can be found online at www.arkansascrops.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Rice-Drill-Calibration-Worksheet.xlsx

Ag Worker Protection Standards

The March 20 edition of “USA Rice Daily” announced upcoming revisions to Worker Protection Standards (WPS). In 1992, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized regulations aimed at better protecting agricultural workers and pesticide handlers from the potential risks associated with exposure to crop protection products. Commonly known as “Worker Protection Standards,” the EPA is proposing potential revisions to revise and update these standards.

The goal of this year’s revision is “to reduce the incidence of occupational pesticide exposure and related illness among agricultural workers.” The WPS published in the Federal Register specifically lists reducing the “chronic effects from pesticide exposure.” Among the proposed changes to the WPS are rules that would make worker training annual instead of every five years, increase recordkeeping, require mandatory training on reducing “take-home” exposure, require adoption of OSHA standards for respirator use (fitting, medical evaluations, etc.) along with proof of completion, add field buffers and require a minimum worker age of 16.

The draft does propose exemptions (including for the age requirement) for immediate family of the farm owner.
A chart comparing the 1992 rule to the current proposal is available on the USA Rice Federation website, www.usarice.com. USA Rice is evaluating the current WPS proposal, working with stakeholders and will be commenting on the proposal during the official comment period that closes on June 17.