Rice is one of the world’s most important crops. Each year the US rice industry distributes nearly 40 million pounds of rice around the world to combat food insecurity. Rice agriculture is also vital to waterfowl, providing crucial habitat in the most important migration and wintering landscapes of North America. The USA Rice–Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership has been working with rice producers to help keep farms producing abundant crops and providing habitat for waterfowl. The partnership is working to improve the efficiency of irrigated agriculture across the lower Mississippi River Valley and the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast.
Following a successful water sustainability partnership with Ducks Unlimited in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin, Valley Irrigation has developed a broader relationship to bring new technologies and solutions to rice country. Examples include remote water-level monitoring, automated irrigation pump operation, weather stations, and more. The resulting improvements in irrigation efficiency save energy and time, leading to a better bottom line for rice producers.
As part of its contributions to rice stewardship, Valley Irrigation is providing financial support for field staff, establishing demonstration farms, and participating in farmer-to-farmer field days. “This all-in approach makes our efforts valuable to rice producers, and that’s what we are all about,” says Dr. Scott Manley, director of conservation programs for DU in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
“Valley Irrigation and our parent company, Valmont Industries, create critical infrastructure along with agriculture irrigation products providing sustainable solutions around the globe,” says Andy Carritt, Valmont chief technology officer and a DU volunteer and major donor. “Through this partnership, DU will impact more than 270,000 additional rice acres and reach the one-million-acre milestone in 2023.