Conservation Highlighted at 2008 Rice Outlook Conference
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. December 15, 2008 – The USA Rice Foundation-sponsored publication, Conservation in Ricelands of North America, highlighted the opening of the second day of the 2008 USA Rice Outlook Conference. Ducks Unlimited Director of Conservation Programs, Scott Manley, Ph.D, and the book’s editor, told the audience of producers and others that the “rice industry is a special steward” of resources.
“The rice agriculture and conservation communities have a mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationship with shared interests in habitat management for wetland-dependent birds, sustainable rice production, and conservation of natural resources such as soil and water,” Manley said. “The rice industry holds great conservation potential, and we hope this publication will aid in realizing that potential.”
Manley spent several years working with 12 experts to research, summarize, and critique all known available data from more than 25 library databases, land grant university experiment station sources, and author-chosen venues on riceland conservation that 16 independent experts reviewed.
According to Manley, the 180-page text focused on two primary goals of producing “a summary document containing the current state of our knowledge on riceland conservation” and mapping a course for “future research and education programs” to advance the “compatibility between wildlife conservation, rice production, and the environment.”
This is not the first time DU has worked closely with the Rice Foundation. DU was one of the first organizations to work with farmers to flood harvested rice fields for waterfowl. These fields provide valuable habitat for waterfowl while helping rice growers improve their working farms to benefit the environment. Flooding the fields helps control weeds and prevents erosion, which reduces farmers’ chemical usage and conserves soil.
The total acreage of rice grown in the United States is relatively small in comparison to the vast acreage planted in corn, wheat, and soybeans each year. However, in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Gulf Coastal Plain, and Central Valley of California, the crop is absolutely critical to the regional economy and waterfowl.
In the future, DU will continue to work closely with America’s rice growers in these areas to provide essential seasonal wetland habitat for wintering waterfowl and other wildlife, as well as economic benefits for farmers and recreational opportunities for waterfowlers. DU also consults with rice growers and the rice industry about agricultural policy issues.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.
Research publication sponsored by and available from:
The Rice Foundation
P.O. Box 786
Stuttgart, AR 72160
Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Southern Regional Office
193 Business Park Drive, Suite E
Ridgeland, MS 39157