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Online video series on sustainable agriculture returns in '21

by Ryan McGeeney Special to The Commercial | January 15, 2021 at 3:12 a.m.
Winter wheat growing at a research station in Marianna is examined by Esten Mason, a wheat breeder for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, in this February 2016 file photo. The study was made before that fall's release of a new variety of soft red winter wheat developed by the UA.

Outreach educators with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will continue an online video series focused on sustainable agriculture in 2021.

Rita Watson, virtual education program associate for the Division of Agriculture, said the "Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture" series, which produced its initial episode in November 2020, will expand into a five-part series in the new year.

The series is part of a larger project known as the Soil and Water Conservation Virtual Field Trip Series.

Episodes in the series will focus on various commodity crops commonly grown in Arkansas, such as soybeans, rice, cotton and poultry, as well as market conditions and marketing opportunities, Watson said.

"The purpose is to educate our producers, county extension agents, crop consultants, industry partners, high school science students and the public about our research-based practices that have been proven on local farms to conserve water, improve water quality and soil health," Watson said. "These soil and water conservation practices offer cost and labor benefits as well. The goal is to distribute these educational sessions using a cost-effective method that is easily accessible and convenient for our audience."

The series on agricultural sustainability began in November, focusing on the connections between farmer and retailer. Watson said future episodes, which are already in production, will feature discussions with researchers, producers and industry partners about the sustainability standards of today and tomorrow.

"We will educate our audience on the standards that producers are required to meet if they want to partner with retailers," Watson said. "We will discuss how our farm-based research has helped local farmers to meet those standards."

The series is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Julie Robinson, associate professor of leadership for the Division of Agriculture, is the principal for the grant. The production team for the series includes Watson; Mike Daniels, professor of crop, soil and environmental science; Mike Hamilton, irrigation educator; Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist; Lee Riley, environmental science and crop management program associate; Kerry Rodtnick, extension videography specialist; and Mary Poling, interactive communication coordinator. All are employees of the Division of Agriculture.

The first video in the series, originally broadcast Nov. 17, can be viewed at To see all videos produced by the Division of Agriculture, visit

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow the service on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its extension and research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.

Ryan McGeeney is with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.


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