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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Mallard Heaven

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Snapp pointed out that rice farming leaves a lot more spilled grain on the ground than other agricultural products-sometimes a few hundred pounds per acre. He also noted how rice farming in the state has changed over the years. Most of the rice used to be produced in southern Arkansas, around Stuttgart, he said, but today there is more rice produced in northeast Arkansas than anywhere else.

Back in Walnut Ridge, we gathered around the sign in front of Snapp's lodge, hoisting our day's take to pose for a customary picture. An amazing number of people in cars and trucks on the busy road that runs in front of the lodge were honking, waving, and giving us the thumbs-up as they passed by our little photo session. "Welcome to Arkansas," said Snapp as the flashbulb popped.

I might as well have been standing on the mound in Yankee Stadium, the crowd roaring in my ears.

For more information or to book a hunt, contact:
Charles Snapp
Davy Crockett Guide Service
PO Box 134
Walnut Ridge, AR 72476

Arkansas' RICE Project

To help provide much-needed habitat for ducks and other wetland-dependent species, farmers are cooperating with DU and private landowners through the Arkansas' RICE Project (Rice Industry Caring for the Environment) to manage rice fields in the winter. By flooding their fields after harvest, these farmers are creating valuable habitat, but they are accruing other benefits as well.

"The average amount of soil lost from fields in winter that are disked in fall, then allowed to drain after storms, is approximately 1,000 pounds per acre, and only 30 pounds/acre when conservation practices are applied," says DU Regional Biologist Scott Manley. On a 2,000-acre farm, that would mean a total savings of nearly 2 million pounds of soil every winter."

Manley is working with landowners across Arkansas to come up with ways to keep the soil on the farm, where it belongs. Too often, soil is consistently swept off the farm by rainstorms, slowly degrading the quality of our rivers, lakes, and eventually, our estuaries. "This is a teaspoon-by-teaspoon approach, but we have to start someplace. The more farmers enrolled in our program, the more soil that stays on the farmland and out of our waterways."

In Arkansas, a mild winter climate coupled with abundant rainfall will encourage growth of winter weeds. DU works with farmers to impound winter rainfall on their fields, which helps decompose residual straw and suppress growth of winter weeds. Manley says that holding water on rice fields until the end of February can be substituted for fall disking to reduce straw, cut herbicide use for winter weeds, and save farmers as much as $22/acre in field preparation costs come spring.

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