Test plots harvested

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
On the larger test plots at the Manila Airport, equipment from the Wildy Family Farm is used. Every six rows have different varieties. University of Arkansas crew members were on hand helping to record data from the test plots. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Harvest yields on test plots on the Manila Airport ground will contribute to data gathered by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Information on cotton varieties, nitrogen rates, seeding rates, insect pest management, and irrigation timing will be gathered, compiled and ready for distribution before the end of the year.

"We have a unique setup here," Ray Benson, staff chair with the Mississippi County Extension Service, said.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, in response to needs identified by local and area producers, began conducting research and Extension Service demonstrations on fields at the Manila Airport in 2013. According to Benson, the work being conducted at the Manila Airport location represents a partnership that includes the Cooperative Extension Service, the University of Arkansas Experiment Station, Arkansas State University, the City of Manila, the Manila Muncipal Airport and local grower Wildy Family Farms.

Harvesting the research plots at the Manila Airport on Tuesday, Oct. 11, was underway with a modified cotton picker from the University of Arkansas Experiment Station in Keiser. It picked the small plots of varieties being tested under the direction of Dr. Fred Bourland.

Dr. Fred Bourland, professor with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, conducts research to test the adaptation of cotton cultivars across multiple locations.

"Soil variability in northeast Arkansas makes the airport location an important test site for the cotton variety testing program," Benson said.

A smaller modified cotton picker from the Experiment station is used to pick the small 50' long test plots. Each 50' plot is picked and weighed for comparisons.

Across from the small plots, larger areas are tested using the cooperating producer's equipment.

"Having the more traditional small-plot research and replicated large-plot strip trials on the same farm helps us collect large amounts of data to help address questions producers have about production," Benson said. "We also have the opportunity of see the progression of new discovery from initial small-plot testing, to on-farm implementation through our Extension Service demonstration plots.

"Using GPS guidance and rate control, as well as on-board yield monitors in the producer's equipment, is providing information that can help us develop best practices for using precision agriculture," Benson said.

Benson expressed his appreciation to the Wildy Family Farms. They do the work with their equipment on the larger plots.

Members of the UofA Research teams were on hand for the harvest gathering data as the cotton was picked.

A scale was at the harvest site for bales of the different varieties to be weighed.

The test plots at the Manila Airport are included in the Mississippi County annual field day held in September. Specialists from across the state meet with area farmers to discuss topics such as fertility, irrigation, pest management, cotton seeding rate varieties, and other tillage programs.

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