A rice-soybean rotation has been the most profitable in an Arkansas study of management practices comparing not-till rice to conventional till, according to Brad Watkins, agricultural economist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, who is analyzing rice production practices from an economical perspective.

Watkins' research at the UA Rice Research and Extension Center near Stuttgart, Ark., examined costs and returns on different management practices used in no-till and conventional rice production. The research is funded by the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.

“We used different crops, such as corn instead of soybeans,” he says. “The primary production practice that's been the most profitable has been rice-soybean rotation. It's been the most profitable so far, and the most conducive to no-till (a conservation tillage practice) in terms of making no-till economical.”

In addition to the long-term cropping systems study, Watkins says he, Merle Anders, UA systems agronomist, and Tony Windham, Extension economist, examined the economics of using Clearfield technology and Roundup Ready soybeans to control red rice, a common weed in white rice. The Clearfield study began in 2002.

Windham says the first year's data indicates that “in plots heavily infested with red rice, we received similar net returns from Clearfield technology and Roundup Ready soybeans. The 2003 results will provide information on which of these systems suppresses the most red rice in the second year.”

Extension trials also show that Clearfield technology gives farmers another option to consider when they have heavily infested fields. Windham says the university will continue the research to study how much red rice grew in 2003 compared to last year's red rice infestation.