THE ARKANSAS State Plant Board has commended Ford Baldwin and Dennis Gardisser with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for their research in the aerial application of Command herbicide on rice.

Baldwin and Gardisser are each nationally recognized in their areas of expertise. Baldwin, who lives in Lonoke, Ark., is a weed scientist noted for his work in reduced-rate herbicide use, and Gardisser, who lives in Cabot, Ark., is an agricultural engineer and expert on aerial application of pesticides and fertilizers.

The board commended the men in a resolution for their “long hours of dedicated work” and professional research that provided “valuable data and information concerning the aerial application of pesticides.”

The board expressed its “appreciation and gratitude for faithful and loyal service to the agricultural interests of the state of Arkansas.”

The state plant board granted rice farmers permission to use Command on 400,000 acres of rice in 1999, but the product label called for ground application of the herbicide only. Baldwin asked the board for permission to spray Command on fields by airplane as an experiment in 1999 and 2000. Gardisser checked aircraft setups and measured droplet sizes from the spray equipment before pilots did the spraying.

As a result of the research, Baldwin said he determined that Command can be safely applied by airplane and that he doesn't know any reason why a state label for aerial application of Command shouldn't be approved.

Arkansas is the nation's leading rice producer. Farmers raise more than a million acres of rice annually, which is more than 40 percent of the nation's total output.