Arkansas Soil/Water Education Conference set for Jan. 31

Arkansas Soil/Water Education Conference set for Jan. 31

Water increasingly valuable for Arkansas farmland. Experts to discuss issues surrounding state water resources. Arkansas Soil/Water Education Conference to be held at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

The Annual Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference to be held Friday, January 31, 2014 at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center in Jonesboro.

The conference comes at a time when the state is facing increasing pressure on its water resources.

A new thing for the conference: 2014 will be the first year for the Conservation Award.

“It’s being sponsored by the Judd Hill Foundation and is going to Wayne Wiggins,” says Michele Reba, USDA-ARS research hydrologist. “He was early advocate of soil and water conservation practices in eastern Arkansas.”

Wiggins, a producer and landowner, is also very involved in the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.

The conference, set to begin at 8 a.m. with registration and end at 3 p.m., “flips between soil and water topics every year,” says Reba. “This year, the focus of the conference will largely be water.”

The agenda includes:

  • 8:30: Planning for our water future- Arkansas Water Plan update -- Ed Swaim, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
  • 8:50: Groundwater modeling in Arkansas: past, present, and future -- Brian Clark, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • 9:10: Success of the Little Red River Irrigation District Project -- Elvis Vaughn, White County farmer.
  • 9:30: Questions and answers.
  • 9:50: Poster overview
  • 10:30: Weather in 2013/Forecast for 2014 -- John Lewis, National Weather Service, Little Rock.
  • What benefits we can expect from improved soil and water management in rice? -- Merle Anders, University of Arkansas.
  • 11:10: Nutrient and water quality in the Cache River Watershed: A comparison with EPA-recommended numeric criteria -- Thad Scott, University of Arkansas.
  • 11:30: Lessons learned after 34 years with the USGS: So what? --John Czarnecki, U.S. Geological Survey, retired.

Czarnecki, says Reba, will “give an overview of what he’s seen over his career. It’ll be a sort of ‘what I’ve come to understand’ review. That will be very interesting.”

  • 11:50 Questions and answers
  • 12:00: Luncheon

George H. Dunklin, Jr., Grand Prairie producer and President of Ducks Unlimited, will provide the luncheon address.

“We’re trying to bring in a balance between natural resources management and water,” says Reba. “Mr. Dunklin does a great job explaining those two things.”

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For the afternoon sessions, “a researcher will be paired with a producer for presentations.”

  • 1:00: On-Farm Reservoir Design and Management for Levee Erosion Control -- Daniel Wren, USDA–Agricultural Research Service and Mark Wimpy, Craighead County rice producer.
  • 1:30: Irrigation management using intermittent flooding of rice -- Merle Anders, University of Arkansas and Earl Kline, Mississippi rice producer.
  • 2:00: Design and Implementation of PHAUCET and multiple inlet irrigation -- Mike Hamilton, University of Arkansas and Brad Wimpy, Poinsett County rice producer.
  • 2:30: Preliminary Results from an on-farm test of artificial recharge of the alluvial aquifer -- John Czarnecki, U.S. Geological Survey, and Bryan Huber, Poinsett County rice producer.

The artificial recharge practice, says Reba, “is in its early stages. But there’s a lot of interest in it and the ways we can solve the problems such efforts have run into in the past.”

The conference registration fee is $20, which includes the cost of lunch. Registration form and more information.

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