Delta Farm Press Logo

2021 Most Crop Per Drop contest winners named

University of Arkansas' irrigation efficiency award winners.

Forrest Laws

February 7, 2022

If you don’t think farmers can continue to improve on their efforts to conserve soil and water, just look at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Most Crop Per Drop Irrigation Contest.

Two of the winners in the 2021 contest’s corn, rice and soybean categories set records for irrigation efficiency by producing more bushels of rice and soybeans per inch of water than had previously been done in the four years of the competition.


“The winners of the rice category are first place – Stephen Hoskins – achieving the highest water use efficiency ever recorded in the four-year history of the contest with 9.77 bushels per inch and 239.9 bushels per acre,” said Chris Henry, associate professor and water management engineer with the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart, Ark.

Henry announced the contest winners during a segment of the 24th annual Arkansas Soil and Water Education Conference, which was held online again this year due to concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seth Tucker of Tillar, Ark., finished second in the rice category with 203 bushels per acre with 6.31 bushels per acre of water, and Matthew Feilke of Stuttgart was third with 261.3 bushels per acre with 4.84 bushels per inch of water.


Chad Render, who farms near Pine Bluff, Ark., set a record for soybean irrigation efficiency in the contest by harvesting 98.8 bushels per acre or 5.23 bushels per inch of water. In second place, Cody Fincher of Dyess, Ark., produced 100.8 bushels or 4.69 bushels per inch of water, and, in third, Heath Donner of Manila, Ark., grew 89.7 bushels or 4.63 bushels per inch.


Brandon Cain, who farms in White County, finished first in the corn category with a yield of 280.7 bushels per acre or 12.43 bushels per inch of water. Terry Smith of Walcott, Ark., earned second place with 254 bushels per acre or 12.27 bushels per inch of water, and Adam Chappell of Cotton Plant, Ark., was third with 247.1 bushels or 10.56 bushels per inch of water.

How it was done

“I’ve been entering this contest for three years in the corn and soybean categories,” said Cain, who spoke by Zoom connection to the conference. “I’ve been using moisture sensors, Pipe Planner and cover crops to try to help with irrigation efficiency.

“This year we got lucky and picked a good hybrid and irrigated according to the moisture sensors, and it all worked out. I’d like to thank Jan Yingling, White County Extension chair, and Greg Simpson and Russ Parker with the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for their help. And I look forward to entering the contest next year.”

Hoskyn is a third-generation rice farmer from Stuttgart in Arkansas County who entered the More Crop Per Drop Contest for the first time in 2021. The winning entry was grown in furrow-irrigated or row rice.

“We used Pipe Planner and the Pit-less Tailwater Recirculating Pump,” said Hoskyn, referring to a tool patented by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “I think there are a few of those devices around the state, but this was the first time I had used one.”

He planted RiceTec’s 753 hybrid at a rate of 18 pounds per acre on April 27. “It came up well, especially for being planted that late and grew off,” he noted. “We pumped about 13.5 inches of water with the Pit-less pump, and they determined we used about 12 inches of rainfall during the growing season.”

Render, who was also in his third year of the competition, said 2021 was a different year starting with the unusually cold temperatures in February and continuing with the record flooding that occurred in southeast Arkansas and the central Mississippi Delta in June.

“So it’s been kind of a high and low year on weather events, and I think we’re seeing that more and more each year,” he noted. “We put this crop in the ground, and it just seems like there’s big weather events that make it a little bit more challenging.”

What helped him achieve the yield with the least amount of water was “having the nutrients in my soils in the fall, having everything ready to plant,” he noted “As early as I can, I try to get in there with the planters and start on the soybean crop.

“It's just a really good competition,” he said. “You learn a lot. That's what I really love about this is the knowledge we gain about farming and this new technology and, new varieties that can push through some stress.”

About the Author(s)

Forrest Laws

Forrest Laws spent 10 years with The Memphis Press-Scimitar before joining Delta Farm Press in 1980. He has written extensively on farm production practices, crop marketing, farm legislation, environmental regulations and alternative energy. He resides in Memphis, Tenn. He served as a missile launch officer in the U.S. Air Force before resuming his career in journalism with The Press-Scimitar.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like