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2011 Annual Report MRBI Little River Ditches Success Story

2011 Annual Report - Little River Ditches MRBI Success Story

Arkansas State University Professor Tina Gray Teague is leading a two-year Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative study in the Little River Ditches Watershed located in parts of Craighead, Mississippi and Poinsett counties in northeast Arkansas. The project will help farmers use spatial technologies to adjust fertilizer application rates for optimum yields with reduced nutrient runoff from agricultural fields.

Local producers have invested in auto-steer systems linked to GPS satellite systems. The technology allows variable-rate fertilizer application based on soil test data from grid sampling and identifying management zones in a field with characteristics that affect fertilizer uptake by plants, runoff and leaching into groundwater.

The project will demonstrate practices that can enable producers to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous use without sacrificing cotton yield or quality. Reduced tillage, cover crops and other conservation practices will also be evaluated on demonstration farms. The expected results of these efforts will provide evidence that show improved crop productivity through earlier maturity, higher yields and improved watershed water quality as a result of decreased nutrient loss.