Division of Environmental Quality Partners with University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service to Study Crop Residue Management Practices

Agriculture plays a major role in Arkansas’s economy and the State is one of the top producers of rice, soybeans, wheat, and corn, in the nation. Post-harvest crop residues must be managed in order to prepare for subsequent plantings. Crop stubble is typically burned in the spring or fall. Alternative management techniques such as tilling, no-till, and winter-flooding may also be used. The choice of management techniques for post-harvest crop residue may impact crop productivity, soil quality, and air quality. In order to evaluate the impacts of available crop residue management techniques, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UAEX) with funding from the Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is currently conducting a study of crop residue management practices in Arkansas.

The study will attempt to quantify management practices employed in Arkansas and to evaluate alternative practices and their potential impacts on crop productivity and environmental quality. The results of the study will be used to inform UAEX recommendations for growers throughout Arkansas, and will also provide DEQ with information related to air quality impacts of crop residue burning.

Objective one of the study, a compilation of regulatory programs and incentive approaches used in other states was completed in June 2015.

Objective two, consists of three tasks:

  1. A two-year producer survey designed to identify and document current residue management practices in Arkansas and the determining factors for the use of each
  2. Plot-scale experiments involving alternative crop residue management techniques to determine the circumstances where each method might be favorable for productivity while also reducing environmental impact
  3. Development of burned area estimates for crop residue burning emissions analysis using a remote sensing approach, and subsequent modeling to evaluate the impact of crop residue burning on particulate matter concentrations

The most recent progress report detailing study results was submitted to DEQ in June 2017.