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University researchers: Rice farmers can get same yield with one-third less water

by The Associated Press | December 16, 2016 at 7:37 a.m.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State University researchers say that some rice farmers can use much less water and get the same yield by flooding their fields at the start and end of the season, and letting them dry out a bit in between.

Irrigation specialist Jason Krutz said that's a radical change from recommendations across the Rice Belt to keep 2 to 4 inches of water in the fields. Instead, he recommends letting fields dry until water is 4 inches below the soil surface, then re-flooding them.

He said that can cut water use 30 percent without hurting yield.

Krutz said MSU's tests were on high-clay soils, which probably make up about half of Mississippi rice fields.

He said he believes Arkansas researchers will study its use in silt-loam soils like those in Arkansas and south Louisiana.

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