The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s annual Most Crop Per Drop irrigation yield contest is now open to Arkansas rice, soybean and corn producers, and for the first time, includes two rice competition categories. With $95,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs, this year’s competition is the most lucrative in the contest’s history.
The contest rewards efficiency, with top prizes going to the growers who achieve the greatest yield while using the least water.
“The contest is challenging,” Chris Henry, associate professor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said. “To win, one must have both a high yield and low water use. Entrants are encouraged to use any irrigation best management practice they see fit to in their operation, such as computerized hole selection, sensor-based irrigation scheduling, surge irrigation, pump controls, alternate wetting/drying rice irrigation and other best management practices that can result in higher water use efficiency.”
The Division of Agriculture has been demonstrating irrigation water management practices on farms for five years. Research has shown that when applied effectively, growers can reduce water by 24% on average with no yield penalty. Reductions in water use of around 40% and increased profit of $39 per acre as a result of reduced pumping and increased yields have been documented, Henry said.
Improved water use efficiency is critical for sustaining agricultural production. Arkansas ranks third in the nation for the area of irrigated land. It ranks second in the volume of water pumped for irrigation. About 80% of the state’s irrigation demand is supplied by groundwater provided by the Lower Mississippi River Basin; 48% of the annual withdraw is sustainable.
The Most Crop per Crop contest is part of the Division of Agriculture’s efforts to promote sustainable farming practices.
“In the Most Crop per Drop contest, every contestant receives a report card at the end of the year, which allows them to see how their yields and water use efficiency compare to other irrigators in Arkansas. It’s a valuable tool contestants can use to evaluate their irrigation management acumen on their farm,” Henry said.
Cash prizes will be awarded to top winners in the corn and soybean divisions: $6,000 to first-place winners; $3,000 for second place; and $1,000 to the third-place winner. The Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Promotion Board and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board are providing the prizes.
Rice growers, for the first time, can compete in one of two divisions — Furrow Irrigated Rice or Flood. Winners in each rice category will receive prizes provided by Ricetec:
- First place — Hybrid seed superbag (40 units) valued at $11,000
- Second place — 26 seed units valued at $7,260
- Third places — 14 units valued at $3,740
Other irrigation-related equipment prizes will be awarded to the overall water efficiency winner in the rice division. Additional contest sponsors are Arkansas Natural Resource Conservation Service, McCrometer, Seametrics, Irrometer, Delta Plastics, Trellis, Agsense, CropX and Farm Logs.
The contest is open to Arkansas growers. Participants should contact Russ Parker at 870-636-1329 to request a meter and any other equipment requests. Meters must be in place before irrigation, and entry forms are due by June 30. Participants may also register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 870-673-2661.
- A propeller flow meter must be installed at the riser bonnet in each field.
- The flow meter must be read and sealed by a Division of Agriculture contest official before irrigation begins.
- Entrants must choose a county extension agent, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or other approved third-party person to supervise harvest.
- A measured sample area of a minimum of three acres must be harvested.
- Certified public scales must be used to weigh at harvest.
- Minimum yield to win is 200 bushels per acre for corn; 180 bushels per acre for rice; and 60 bushels per acre for soybeans.
- Non-irrigated crop fields may not be considered.
- Any irrigation scheduling method may be used.
- Highest water use efficiency will determine the winner.
- Entrants can request demo Crop X, Trellis and Agsense soil moisture monitoring at no charge for contest fields.
- UA Flowmeters are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Meters may also be obtained from local conservation districts, Delta Plastics and Riceland.
- Previous first-place rice winners may enter the Rice Division category (row/flood) for which they have not previously won and will be eligible for the Ricetec supersack only.
For more information on irrigation and crop production, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.uada.edu/irrigation.