The Annual Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference to be held Friday, January 31, 2014 at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center in Jonesboro.

The conference comes at a time when the state is facing increasing pressure on its water resources.

A new thing for the conference: 2014 will be the first year for the Conservation Award.

“It’s being sponsored by the Judd Hill Foundation and is going to Wayne Wiggins,” says Michele Reba, USDA-ARS research hydrologist. “He was early advocate of soil and water conservation practices in eastern Arkansas.”

Wiggins, a producer and landowner, is also very involved in the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.

The conference, set to begin at 8 a.m. with registration and end at 3 p.m., “flips between soil and water topics every year,” says Reba. “This year, the focus of the conference will largely be water.”

The agenda includes:

  • 8:30: Planning for our water future- Arkansas Water Plan update -- Ed Swaim, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.
  • 8:50: Groundwater modeling in Arkansas: past, present, and future -- Brian Clark, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • 9:10: Success of the Little Red River Irrigation District Project -- Elvis Vaughn, White County farmer.
  • 9:30: Questions and answers.
  • 9:50: Poster overview
  • 10:30: Weather in 2013/Forecast for 2014 -- John Lewis, National Weather Service, Little Rock.
  • What benefits we can expect from improved soil and water management in rice? -- Merle Anders, University of Arkansas.
  • 11:10: Nutrient and water quality in the Cache River Watershed: A comparison with EPA-recommended numeric criteria -- Thad Scott, University of Arkansas.
  • 11:30: Lessons learned after 34 years with the USGS: So what? --John Czarnecki, U.S. Geological Survey, retired.

Czarnecki, says Reba, will “give an overview of what he’s seen over his career. It’ll be a sort of ‘what I’ve come to understand’ review. That will be very interesting.”

  • 11:50 Questions and answers
  • 12:00: Luncheon

George H. Dunklin, Jr., Grand Prairie producer and President of Ducks Unlimited, will provide the luncheon address.

“We’re trying to bring in a balance between natural resources management and water,” says Reba. “Mr. Dunklin does a great job explaining those two things.”

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For the afternoon sessions, “a researcher will be paired with a producer for presentations.”

  • 1:00: On-Farm Reservoir Design and Management for Levee Erosion Control -- Daniel Wren, USDA–Agricultural Research Service and Mark Wimpy, Craighead County rice producer.
  • 1:30: Irrigation management using intermittent flooding of rice -- Merle Anders, University of Arkansas and Earl Kline, Mississippi rice producer.
  • 2:00: Design and Implementation of PHAUCET and multiple inlet irrigation -- Mike Hamilton, University of Arkansas and Brad Wimpy, Poinsett County rice producer.
  • 2:30: Preliminary Results from an on-farm test of artificial recharge of the alluvial aquifer -- John Czarnecki, U.S. Geological Survey, and Bryan Huber, Poinsett County rice producer.

The artificial recharge practice, says Reba, “is in its early stages. But there’s a lot of interest in it and the ways we can solve the problems such efforts have run into in the past.”

The conference registration fee is $20, which includes the cost of lunch. Registration form and more information.