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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #315992

Title: Reducing water use for rice production with remote monitoring and control

Author
item Vories, Earl - Earl

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/31/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Rice is an important food crop worldwide and farmers in the Lower Mississippi Water Resource Area of the U.S. grew 68% of the total U.S. crop. U.S.-produced rice is grown almost exclusively in a flooded culture and the water applied to rice has resulted in high energy costs and water shortages in some rice-producing areas. Reducing the irrigation requirement has been a goal for many years. The feasibility of center pivot irrigated rice production has been demonstrated; however, modifications to fields to aid flooded production make it unlikely that a lot of current rice producers will change. Excessive irrigation applications often occur because it is not possible to closely monitor each field. Because rice farms have grown to thousands of hectares spread over several kilometers, the ability to remotely monitor flood depth would be quite valuable to many producers. However, the systems cannot be prohibitively expensive nor require a lot of repair and maintenance if they are to be widely adopted. A collaborative project between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service proposed a system with monitoring stations measuring water depth and communicating wirelessly with a central control station that processed the information and communicated with the producer through e-mail or text message. Such a system was installed and tested in a rice field in northeast Arkansas in 2008. The sensors in that first test stopped responding to changing water levels before the end of the growing season and many different sensor types have been tried in subsequent systems. So far no system has proved rugged enough for an agricultural environment while remaining inexpensive enough to be practical for farmers. However, design and testing efforts continue and a suitable system will be developed to improve the efficiency of rice production in the US.

Technical Abstract: Rice is an important food crop worldwide and farmers in the Lower Mississippi Water Resource Area of the U.S. grew 68% of the total U.S. crop. U.S.-produced rice is grown almost exclusively in a flooded culture and the water applied to rice has resulted in high energy costs and water shortages in some rice-producing areas. Reducing the irrigation requirement has been a goal for many years. The feasibility of center pivot irrigated rice production has been demonstrated; however, modifications to fields to aid flooded production make it unlikely that a lot of current rice producers will change. Excessive irrigation applications often occur because it is not possible to closely monitor each field. Because rice farms have grown to thousands of hectares spread over several kilometers, the ability to remotely monitor flood depth would be quite valuable to many producers. However, the systems cannot be prohibitively expensive nor require a lot of repair and maintenance if they are to be widely adopted. A collaborative project between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service proposed a system with monitoring stations measuring water depth and communicating wirelessly with a central control station that processed the information and communicated with the producer through e-mail or text message. Such a system was installed and tested in a rice field in northeast Arkansas in 2008. The sensors in that first test stopped responding to changing water levels before the end of the growing season and many different sensor types have been tried in subsequent systems. So far no system has proved rugged enough for an agricultural environment while remaining inexpensive enough to be practical for farmers. However, design and testing efforts continue and a suitable system will be developed to improve the efficiency of rice production in the US.