Kellogg Co. partnering with Arkansas rice farmers to help conserve water

Kellogg Co. partnering with Arkansas rice farmers to help conserve water
Kellogg Co. is partnering with rice farmers across Arkansas to help with conserving water. (Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) -One food giant company is working with Arkansas farmers to help grow their food with fewer resources.

According to a report from content partner Talk Business & Politics, one project from Kellogg Co. shows the company working with The Nature Conservancy by funding the cost of timers that rice can use to automate field irrigation pumps with 30 farmers.

Jason Milks, director of The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas, said with rice being an important crop in the state, water is one of the few resources that’s more important.

“Making the most efficient use of that water is going to be critical in the future if the state keeps growing rice for generations to come,” Milks said.

Mary Gallagher with Kellogg Co. said The Nature Conservancy was a way the company could help farmers with water conservation by putting the technology in their hands.

But despite the Mississippi Valley Alluvial Aquifer providing 80% of the water used in rice growing in Arkansas, water levels dropped dramatically due to excessive pumping.

“In many areas across the state, the aquifer has 10% or less water left in it,” Milks said. “For every minute the timer saves in pumping time, thousands of gallons of critical groundwater are conserved.”

Milks said with farmers controlling how long the pumps run, the Kellogg project has already saved an estimated nine billion gallons of water on the 30 farms that span roughly 15,000 acres.

Each pump and installation costs around $1,000, which Kellogg Co. pays. Milks said the timers are durable and can last for 10-15 years.

“This is a great place for farmers to start with no cost outlay of their own, and in the first two years of this three-year project, farmers have been overwhelmed by the water savings and other benefits the timers have provided,” Milks said.

Kotton Guest is one of the farmers with 30 large pumps on his rice farm, each equipped with a timer. He said having the timers is significant.

“We have to step up and do our part in saving the water for future farmers and people in the world,” Guest said. “Everybody has to do their part, and Kellogg’s support of this project makes it easier for us to use new conservation techniques. I love this land. I love farming, and I love helping to feed people. If we’re smart, we’ll be able to keep the water, and the rice, flowing for many generations to come.”

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