Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Walking in Between

Cassidy Nemec,

There’s a song I listen to every now and then with the lyrics “life is not the mountaintops; it’s the walking in between.” I really like that metaphor this time of year. It seems like the “in between” time where we aren’t necessarily running the same way we would during planting and harvest times. I think it’s nice to remember that the seemingly mundane day-to-day is where a lot of life — whether that be through impactful research, scouting, or even just brainstorming the next project or season — can really happen.

This month’s cover story follows Jeff Rutledge, a northwestern Arkansas rice farmer who has, over time, put a large percentage of his land in row rice: “I started doing that about eight years ago,” he said. “We’ve steadily increased the acreage each year to be 75% to 80% of our rice acreage now. We put it everywhere it fits.” Read more about Rutledge and his operation on pages 12 and 13.

Page 14 discusses the new Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool, or FRST, that has come from an extensive cohort consisting of researchers from nearly 50 universities throughout the United States: The new tool represents a significant advancement in soil testing for phosphorus and potassium and nutrient management that uses data from across the U.S. Researchers hope the tool’s precise soil test calibration might one day contribute to significant annual savings for farmers across the country while also reducing excess nutrient losses to the environment.

This “in between” may also provide some time to catch up on all the latest updates in the law and policy scope of agriculture. One recent example comes from a final rule put in place by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services dealing with voluntary Endangered Species Act programs: For landowners, the agreements provide assurances that so long as the landowner carries out the agreed upon conservation measures, they will not be expected to carry out any future conservation activities. This is particularly helpful for landowners who are aware that a candidate species is located on or near their property and would like to avoid unforeseen ESA restrictions should the species become listed. This may not be relevant to your operation, but there are so many more legal updates coming down the pipeline, it might be worth reading into some.

Overall, I hope we can all see there is something meaningful in each day and be reminded of the beauty of the little things in life and progress that can come from taking life day by day. I believe taking small, faithful steps can prove so much more beneficial over time than we can imagine at the current moment, so keep walking!

Don’t forget about the open nomination period for the 2024 Rice Awards and 2024 Rice Consultant of the Year. The deadline is July 15 for both. Visit and for more information and to nominate someone deserving today.

I hope everyone has a great summer!

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