Device Measures Health of Rice Plant, Save Farmers Money

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Device Measures Health of Rice Plant, Save Farmers Money

LONOKE, Ark. – Through water and fields, 2018 has placed technology in the hands of farmers. “A point and click,” says Dr. Jarod Hardke, with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “It’s just focused on the plant.” Dr. Hardke says the Trimble Greenseeker reveals vital details in a plant’s life. “Refer to this as a fuel gauge for the rice plant,” he says. The device sends a light to the plant and a light source is sent back to the handheld device showing how healthy the plants are. The lower the number on the reader, the more nitrogen, a food source for rice plants, is needed to keep the plant alive. “[The] real hope on this is we get to say is ‘No, you don’t need additional nitrogen at that time’ and we can save that roughly $20 an acre [on nitrogen],” says Dr. Hardke. Dr. Hardke says the device, which costs about $400, will help keep Arkansas farmers number one in the country in rice production. He calls it a small investment for long-term success. “Ultimately if we save one mid-season nitrogen application in just one field, you’ve more than paid for the handheld itself,” he says.