Recently, I attended the Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference held at Arkansas State University. The conference had a range of speakers from state government to private companies. In the Mississippi Delta Region, producing rice on average takes twice the water as corn, soybeans, or cotton. The the amount of water needed can be reduced with land grading by as much as 40% comparing contour levee rice to zero grade rice. Other water and energy savings can come from the use of poly pipe, irrigation scheduling, and correct holes sizes in irrigation poly pipe. These measures can significantly reduce water use by as much as 25%.
Groundwater in most parts of the Delta Region continues to decline. To solve the water issue it will take cooperation among landowners, tenants, and other groups who have an interest in water use. There must be a balance between short term profitability and long term water sustainability. We have a water management problem and not a water quantity problem. It is better for the industry to resolve our water management problems before others tell us how.