UACES Facebook Heavy on the knowledge: 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo to feature new info on ag drones, new varieties, resistant weeds and the best in water management
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Heavy on the knowledge: 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo to feature new info on ag drones, new varieties, resistant weeds and the best in water management

By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Aug. 1, 2016

Fast Facts:

  • 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo set for Wednesday, Aug. 10
  • To be held at the Grand Prairie Center, 2807 Highway 165 South, in Stuttgart
  • Use of drones for agricultural and commercial use among discussion topics
  • Field tours will give attendees chance to see latest variety releases

 (637 words)
(Newsrooms: Fausett, seventh paragraph, is cq) 

LITTLE ROCK — The 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo will have plenty to offer attendees of every stripe: Those who grow, those who cook and those who eat one of the state’s top row crops. And this year’s iteration of the annual expo in Stuttgart will feature demonstrations and experts speaking about aspects of rice in Arkansas, both new and old. 

The Arkansas Rice Expo returns to Stuttgart’s Grand Prairie Center, 2807 Highway 165 South. Doors open at 8 a.m. and will finish up with a complementary lunch. The annual half-day event celebrates a crop that in 2013 was valued at nearly $1.3 billion for Arkansas’ economy.   

Terry Spurlock, extension plant pathologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, will deliver a presentation on the state of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as UAV’s or “drones,” and their potential applications for agriculture. 

“Drone use in Arkansas agriculture is fairly spotty right now,” Spurlock said. “There’s the hobbyists aspect of this — people that are operating small drones as hobbyists, they’re probably flying fields and don’t realize they’re not exactly following the rules when the intent becomes commercial.” 

In late August, Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, which addresses small UAV’s, is scheduled to go into effect. Spurlock said the new rules will impact how the use of drones in agricultural areas is regulated. 

“Use is going to escalate, and I think the hobbyist use is just going to turn into commercial applications,” he said. “The [Federal Aviation Administration] is providing a means for operators to become certified and licensed.” 

Spurlock said he will also talk about the use of various sensor technologies and georeferenced data to analyze different aspects of crop fields, including disease detection, plant population density and field elevation. 

Spurlock said Brad Fausett, CEO of Arkansas UAV, will be addressing attendees as a part of the presentation as well. 

This year’s expo will also feature several field tours, providing attendees the opportunity to see the latest University of Arkansas rice variety releases, as well as some potential variety releases still in development. 

“We’ll be discussing current and future prospects for variety releases, including long grain, medium grain and hybrid programs,” said Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture. “People will get an up-close look at our two most recent releases, as well as potential releases coming in the next couple of years. 

Hardke said Rice Research and Extension Center faculty hope to drain a field just in time for observation day, so that people can actually walk out into it. 

“You just get a better feel for the characteristics of the variety — the panicle length, the way the plant’s structured, how it stands up,” Hardke said. “You can see its natural color, and just how it’s going to look and act in the field, which you can only do so much of from a few steps back.” 

The tour will also feature presentations focusing on growing resistance issues in weeds in both rice and soybeans. 

“We have a lot of concern over managing these weed populations, since the majority of our rice is rotated directly with soybeans,” Hardke said. “[Professors] Jason Norsworthy and Tom Barber will be discussing how these two crops are going to work together with the new herbicide technologies that we have coming forward in both crops, and how that’s going to work and help manage resistance in the future.” 

The third stop on the tour will feature presentation on rice irrigation and water management. Assistant professor Chris Henry and irrigation educator Mike Hamilton will discuss aspects of irrigation efficiency, multiple-inlet irrigation and other practices. 

“The real value of field tours is to see the in-the-field work and efforts of our research and extension faculty,” Hardke said. “It’s the opportunity to see and interact with our research and extension faculty and see what the critical areas are for us right now in rice production. We want to give growers new tools to help improve their operations.” 

To learn more about the 2016 Arkansas Rice Expo, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit



The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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