Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Home to the Center for Rural Resilience and Workforce Development.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
Jan. 13, 2023
By Ryan McGeeneyU of A System Division of Agriculture
(1,548 words)(Newsrooms: With art at https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAntzR)
DUMAS, Ark. — After any three consecutive years of soybean farming in the Mid-South,
it’s going to take more than one Biblical plague to make an impression on the pros.
Speaking to more than 100 growers, consultants and other agriculture industry professionals
in early January, Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the University of
Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, was duly undaunted.
“Two years ago, we had the flood, and last year we had the drought, so I’m trying
to imagine which of the remaining plagues we’re going to have for 2023,” Ross said.
“We’ve already had locusts and flies.”
Ross led the 2023 Tri-State Soybean Conference, an annual meeting involving soybean
production experts from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The conference returned
to the Natural State, with Arkansas hosting the meeting in Dumas on Jan. 6.
“This past year, we had 3.18 million acres planted,” Ross said. “The rain made it
hard to plant early in the season, but once it dried up, we really got going. Drought
really affected us, especially the eastern part of the state, and a lot of farmers
struggled, trying to push that irrigation for rice, so soybeans kind of took a back
“But once we got into harvest, I think this was the quickest harvest I’ve seen in
my 20-plus years,” he said.
The annual conference gives agronomists, researchers and other experts an opportunity
to not only assess the recent production season, but pass on lessons learned and prognostications
An eye on Brazil
Hunter Biram, extension economist for the Division of Agriculture said that if there
was a single phrase to sum up the forecast for the 2023 soybean market, it might be
“keep an eye on Brazil.”
While drought has affected key soybean-growing regions in the South American country,
Brazilian growers are still on track for a record year, he said.
“As long as there is a little bit of rain Brazil will have that record yield everyone
is talking about. A little bit of rain is going to go a long way for them.”
Brazil is the world’s leading soybean exporter, with 53 percent of the market. The
United States is second, with a 35 percent share.
“They’re well over 100 million acres harvested now, and their harvest continues to
go up every single year,” he said. “If they do have that record year, I believe global
soybean stocks will be up, which will then depress the global soybean price, and we’ll
start to feel that at home, too. We always hover around that futures price. It’s a
good reference for local prices, too.”
Biram said that behind Brazil, the second leading factor likely to affect U.S. soybean
growers are the bevy of production risks, from insect pressure to climate curveballs.
“Last year, we had a quiet hurricane year,” he said. “I’m not a meteorologist, I’m
not about to predict that hurricanes are about to happen, but it’s a production risk
we face, here in the Delta. Being that last year was quiet, my gut tells me we need
to be prepared for something. It just takes one hurricane to wipe out a crop.”
Finally, Biram said the third factor in play is a potential new U.S. Farm Bill. Although
the federal Farm Bill is ostensibly renegotiated every five years, it has rarely held
to that schedule.
“Let’s say we do actually get a bill — the No. 1 thing I’m concerned about is base
acre reallocation. Base acres are different than planted acres — base acres are acres
that receive program payments,” such as those provided by Agricultural Risk Coverage
or Price Loss Coverage.
“We do a lot of ARC and PLC in Arkansas — we have a lot of base acres — so there’s
a lot of potential support that may be lost for the farmers right now, who are facing
tough conditions,” Biram said.
Trent Roberts, extension soil fertility specialist for the Division of Agriculture,
said that much of what soybean growers in Arkansas and its neighboring states battled
in 2022 is known as “hidden hunger,” a term Robert uses to describe potassium deficiency
in the plant, limiting production potential — and, by extension, profitability.
“When we get into the arena of fertilization practices and nutrient management, the
elephant in the room is the historically high fertilizer price,” Roberts said. “Over
the past 18-24 months, we’ve seen the highest potash fertilizer prices in history
— and potash is typically the highest input cost for soybean production.”
But because reducing the potash input is among the worst options available to growers,
Roberts said he and his fellow extension experts are hoping to give growers the best
chance they can get to play whatever hand they’re dealt year to year.
“With potash being our largest input cost, we’re trying to give producers as much
info as we can to effectively manage that input.”
That includes a potash rate calculator, designed to give growers a profit-maximizing
K fertilization rate, and new tissue sampling techniques meant to be employed mid-season.
“It allows farmers to identify whether or not their fertilization program is adequate,
or would benefit from additional fertilizer,” he said.
Irrigation: Not if, but when
Mike Hamilton, extension irrigation educator for the Division of Agriculture, said
that much of what makes up the “best management practices” in irrigation comes down
to scheduling — but in a drought year, it’s hard to play by that book.
“In ’22, scheduling wasn’t much of an issue, because we could only get to it when
we could feasibly get to it,” Hamilton said. “We were so tapped, trying to get caught
up — we were behind. We didn’t turn irrigation equipment off unless we needed to do
The labor shortages and supply chain issues that continue to haunt and hinder the
global economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic created an additional stumbling
block for irrigators, Hamilton said.
“If something went down, it would be two or three weeks before we could get the labor
to come do it, and then we’d need to wait on parts, because the supply chain was pitiful,”
Overall, Hamilton said, the vast majority of soybean growers in the region are already
at the top of their game, in terms of employing technology and available resources.
He’s not worried about turning bad farmers into decent farmers — he’s trying to help
the good ones become even better.
“We’re to the point now where our farmers are top-notch,” Hamilton said. “But we need
to get that 1 percent improvement when we can. We want to introduce these water management
practices and devices that can help them save a dollar, save a round of irrigation,
prevent tubing ruptures, and so on.
Eyes in the sky, sensors on the ground
The use of drones in modern agriculture was a hot topic for several of the conference’s
presenters, including both Hamilton and extension application specialist Jason Davis.
“I can fly a drone over a field that you wouldn’t want to drive through,” Hamilton
said. “I can get you elevation within 1.2 inches — a tenth of a foot. Newer drones
will get to within a half-inch. It’s just amazing.”
Davis said the introduction of artificial intelligence into agriculture may arrive
sooner than many outside — or even inside — the industry imagine. John Deere’s See
& Spray Ultimate technology, for example, will soon become commercially available
after years of research and development. The technology incorporates machine learning
to allow tractors with pesticide application booms to target individual weeds, rather
than simply broadcast a pesticide over an entire field.
“The artificial intelligence merger into agriculture is very much happening,” Davis
said. “It’s probably going to make a huge impact in coming seasons. With Deere’s See
& Spray Ultimate is likely to have limited adoption in 2023 because of limited availability.”
Davis said that in less than a decade, artificial intelligence-based technologies
will likely offer increasing savings in labor and pesticides.
“I expect to start seeing more intelligent, site-specific management of crops,” he
said. “Whether that’s informed by drones, or real-time, in situ collection on sprayers or harvest machinery, we’re going to start seeing more and
more automated, fully-AI systems that are making decisions on each individual square
meter. Where we would normally see a broadcast application of a pesticide, for example,
we might see only 10 percent of a field treated.
“There are a lot of exciting developments around the corner,” he said.
As the technology continues to develop, artificial intelligence may not only detect
where additional irrigation is needed, it may trigger that irrigation as well.
“The next step is to use moisture sensors to not only trigger an irrigation, but to
turn on the water source as well,” Hamilton said. “That’s an idea that’s going to
take some time to get comfortable with. It feels far-fetched. But it’s coming.”
Hamilton said that irrigation — and the very availability of water to do it adequately
— will likely become an increasingly pressing issue for agriculture in the coming
“There are going to be some restrictions on our water use one of these days,” Hamilton
said. “Mississippi’s already starting to monitor overall agricultural water use, and
I know a bunch of other states are restricting water use. It’s coming.
“Nobody wants to go there, but it’s inevitable,” he said.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division
of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu/. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture,
visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons 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.
# # #
Media Contact: Ryan McGeeney firstname.lastname@example.org @Ryan_McG44 501-671-2120