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UAPB Lonoke Demonstration Farm Ground Water Activities

Ground water is an integral part of agriculture in eastern Arkansas. The UAPB - Lonoke Demonstration Farm provides scientists and engineers a unique opportunity to work closely with agriculture to develop and monitor the ground water resources on a working farm.

The mission of the UAPB-Lonoke Demonstration Farm is to "enhance the economic status and quality of life for farmers and their families while improving wetlands and protecting water resources in Arkansas". The farm is focusing on efficient and effective management of its water and wetlands. A holistic approach is being utilized to encourage conservation practices that protect the resource base and enhance productivity. An essential component of any effective water management plan is a comprehensive understanding of the area's ground-water resources.

Cooperative Effort

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is working in cooperation with the Arkansas Geological Commission (AGC), the Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission (ASWCC), The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to develop and monitor the ground-water resources at the Lonoke Demonstration Farm. Working together provides a greater understanding of the local ground-water resources and a greater understanding of local agricultural water needs.

Drilling crew installing casing in monitoring well

Drilling crew from the Arkansas Geological Commission installs casing in monitoring well (left photo). USGS technician installs data collection platform (DCP) and antenna (right photo) to relay ground water level data, via satellite to the Arkansas District office; where it is available on the Internet in real time:Small Exit Sign
UAPB - Lonoke Farm real time ground-water levels

Historical Background

Rice has been grown in eastern Arkansas since 1904. The area was recognized early as an excellent area for growing rice because of its gentle relief, moderate climate, abundant groundwater, and a claycap that is resistant to percolation of irrigated water. Rice traditionally is irrigated from the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial aquifer (here after referred to as the Alluvial aquifer). As early as 1910, more water was being withdrawn from the Alluvial aquifer than was being naturally recharged. Due to this overdraft, water levels began declining.

In the Alluvial aquifer, the depth to water below land surface fluctuates seasonally and annually in response to precipitation and withdrawals. The depth to water in the spring of 1996 ranged from 40 feet below land surface along the northern boundary of the farm to over 50 feet below land surface near the southern boundary. The ground water gradient is steep, with the water table dropping about 12 to 15 feet per mile, dipping to the south, southeast. In 1998, depth to water in active well was 63 feet, and this past spring (2000), depth to water was 108 feet. Historically (pre 1900), water levels in this area were less than 20 feet below the land surface.

Activities in 2000UAPB Lonoke Farm Well/Relift Network

  • April and May: AGC drilled two water-level monitoring wells with assistance from NRCS and USGS personnel (see map for locations).
  • June: USGS installed DCP (Data Collection Platform) to provide real time data via the internet. The site is the newest well in the USGS' State-wide ground-water monitoring network which is co-sponsored by AGC and ASWCC.

Planned Activities for 2001

  • February or March: USGS personnel, with assistance from AGC and NRCS personnel, will conduct an aquifer test on the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial aquifer. The test will utilize the two monitoring wells installed in 2000. Data provided will allow hydrologists to calculate principal factors of aquifer performance.

For more information, contact:
Keith Admire, Director
USDA-NRCS-NWMC
101 East Capitol Ave Suite B-100
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
(501) 210-8900

 

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