Environment notebook

Posted: October 22, 2017 at 3:17 a.m.

USDA funds study of rice irrigation

A University of Arkansas, Fayetteville professor has received a grant to study ways to reduce water needed to grow rice, according to an announcement from the university.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded Benjamin Runkle, a biological and agricultural engineer professor, $330,000 to study new irrigation techniques that could reduce water use while also maintaining the amount of rice grown on a farm.

Rice is a water-intensive crop, as fields are flooded during the growth process.

The project will also study how different irrigation techniques could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the announcement. The flooding of the fields prevents oxygen from penetrating the soil and makes the rice paddies more appealing to methane-producing bacteria.

Water-body work comments sought

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comments on its proposed changes to the way it assesses the state's water bodies.

The department will accept input through Nov. 13, after which it will respond to comments and issue a final method of assessment.

The department must submit a new list of impaired water bodies, for which it will use the next assessment methodology, by March 1.

The assessment methodology review has been open for stakeholder input for the past several months after public criticism of the last impaired water bodies list and the methodology used in it.

The draft changes to the methodology include considerations for continuous data, which the department previously said it had no established guidance on how to interpret, and also includes explanations for demonstrating confidence in the statistics used and for making the final impairment decisions.

More information about the new methodology and how to comment can be found at http://arkdg.link/water.

Metro on 10/22/2017