Ducks Unlimited’s Rice Stewardship Program
(RSP) is designed to work with rice producers in southwest Louisiana to reduce input costs, thereby sustaining rice production on this landscape and providing critical waterfowl resources on these managed wetlands.
Under a new Memorandum of Understanding, Louisiana State University (LSU), in partnership with DU and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), are offering on-farm irrigation-pump testing. The Pumping Plant and Irrigation System Efficiency Evaluation equipment is housed in mobile trailers and used by the partnership to conduct on-farm evaluations. This unique partnership of a university, a conservation organization and a federal agency provides preliminary results during the site visit, makes recommendations about efficient fuel consumption and water management and indicates what the annual savings could be if recommendations are followed.
Since January 2012, RSP has worked with more than 175 landowners to provide 22 pumping plant efficiency tests, farm bill program certification on 62,144 acres, conservation planning on more than 13,000 acres and outreach and education on more than 22,445 acres. DU staff has already secured funding commitments of $1.25 million from multiple partners, including the NRCS, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Chevron to support the program. DU has one full-time biologist and two part-time technicians working on RSP, and we are budgeted to add additional capacity by February 2014.
With its already-demonstrated success and proven need, RSP is a vital part of DU’s habitat conservation efforts on working wetlands, and we anticipate program expansion from southwest Louisiana to other rice-growing areas.