RTWG recognizes researchers for their work with AWD in Arkansas

University of Arkansas AWD team at RTWG

(from left to right) Arlene Adviento-Borbe, Michelle Reba, Ben Runkle, Merle Anders, Joe Massey and Chris Henry. Not pictured: Jarrod Hardke — photo courtesy University of Arkanss

A team of University of Arkansas researchers was recently recognized for its contribution toward helping rice producers grow more rice using less water.

The team is evaluating alternate wetting and drying, which can require up to 30 percent less water and produces 50-90 percent less methane without affecting rice yields. It also can reduce heavy metal concentrations the grains accumulate.

Ben Runkle, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering, says the research addresses a critical need in Arkansas and has implications around the world.

“Farming is a big part of the economy in Arkansas,” Runkle said in a university news release. “We’re helping create and establish new rice production practices in Arkansas, so the average person’s kids and grandkids will be more likely to live in an Arkansas with active rice production, and we may even be recovering groundwater sources that have been declining.”

Jarrod Hardke, Extension rice agronomist, agreed.

“We’re committed to aiding growers in their efforts for increased sustainability in rice production through many avenues, including water management, to ensure the long-term viability of the rice industry in Arkansas,” he said.

The team included UA’s Runkle Hardke, Chris Henry and Merle Anders (retired), along with Michelle Reba, Joe Massey and Arlene Adviento-Borbe of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in Arkansas. Along with researchers from California and Louisiana, they earned the “Distinguished Rice Research and Education Team Award” from the Rice Technical Working Group at its recent bi-annual meeting in Long Beach, California.

RTWG is a collaboration of experts in rice production, including researchers, growers and industry representatives that meets every other year to discuss the latest in rice production.