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Connecting Rice Science and Production with Global Sustainability: A 5-Part Webinar Series

Rice is a staple for one-third of the world’s population. Given current concerns about climate change, water and land resource depletion, and the impact of food production on the environment, the dissemination of information on advancements in breeding and sustainable production of this major staple is crucial to the efforts at feeding the world’s growing population with minimal costs to the environment.

The increasingly delicate rice production ecosystems demand bridging sustainable production and processing practices for better end-use functionality of the commodity. This 5-part webinar series from the Rice Milling and Quality Technical Methods Committee will inform advancements in research, including water use for sustainable rice production, investigations of connections between the carbon and water cycles in rice production environments, advances in biotechnology for rice improvement, special development of rice varieties for different markets, and other topics that connect rice science and production with global sustainability.

Webinar Organizer and Moderator

Dr. Griffiths G. Atungulu is Associate Professor of Grain Processing & Post-harvest Systems' Engineering and the Interim Director of The University of Arkansas Rice Processing Program in the Food Science Department at the University Of Arkansas Division Of Agriculture.


​​​Learn more about this informative series below:​


  • Part 1: Advances in Biotechnology for Rice Improvement

    Part 1: Advances in Biotechnology for Rice Improvement

    Broadcast Date: May 6th, 2021 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm central
    Price: Free for members,​ $49 each for nonmembers, or $196 for all 5

    Registration Options

    Webinar Overview

    Emerging advances in our understanding of plant genomes and in technological tools have created new opportunities to improve plant performance and food quality.  Specific traits and critical genetic markers can be selected more readily from existing plant materials. Likewise, the continued improvement of transgenic and gene-editing approaches have markedly changed how biotechnologists and plant breeders can alter traits and determine gene function. 

    In addition to the potential for changing food quality or agronomic traits in rice, these technologies also provide powerful tools to understand and ultimately manipulate plant physiology and development. We have pursued specific gene-edited alterations in enzymes thought to be important ​for longevity of brown rice storage. Lipase and lipoxygenase activities lead to oxidation of free fatty acids in the rice bran layer, and concurrent mutation might have a synergistic effect resulting in significant reduction of oxidative products in rice bran. These and other genes thought to contribute to grain quality and storage have been the targets of gene editing by our group and others.

    Consumer acceptance and global regulatory hurdles ultimately impact adoption of many biotech-developed cereals. The ever-changing climate of public perception and knowledge will continue to impact prospects for wider acceptance.​


    About the Presenter


    Dr. Ken Korth

    Dr. Ken Korth
    University of Arkansas

    Dr. Ken Korth is a Professor of Plant Pathology in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Arkansas. He obtained his Ph.D. in Genetics from North Carolina State University in 1992 after completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1987. After his doctoral studies, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at S.R. Noble Foundation until 1999 when he joined the University of Arkansas. Dr Korth leads a research group that conducts molecular and phenotypic screens of soybean varieties with the aim of improving salt tolerance, in collaboration with the UA soybean breeding group. In recent years his research has expanded to include the use of novel biotechnology tools such as CRISPR technology for gene editing in rice, which vastly improves the prospects of rapid development of desired traits. His research aside, Dr Korth teaches Biotechnology in Agriculture and Advanced Plant Pathology.


  • Part 2: Water Use for Sustainable Rice Production

    Part 2: Water Use for Sustainable Rice Production

    Broadcast Date: May 13, 2021 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm central
    Price: Free for members, $49 each for nonmembers, or $196 for all 5

    Registration Options

    Webinar Overview

    In response to changing production conditions and market forces, farmers continue to seek economically viable methods to produce more rice (Oryza sativa L.) grain with fewer inputs and smaller environmental footprints. To help address these issues, a historical review of irrigated cropland since 1954 to present will open the presentation.  A review of irrigation options for rice production will be described and include pros and cons of the following systems:  a continuous-flood delivered using cascade distribution, to two related levee-based systems (multiple-inlet rice flood distribution (MIRI) and MIRI plus alternate wetting-drying flood management (AWD)), zero-grade rice irrigation, and a non-levee furrow-irrigated system using end-blocking (ROW).  Finally, a look at opportunities for improved water management will highlight automation, in-field water level measurements, and formal initiatives for rice production.  An on-farm study that looked at irrigation management at the farm scale will be highlighted.


    About the Presenter


    Dr. Michelle Reba

    Dr. Michelle Reba
    USDA-ARS Delta Water Management Research Unit

    Dr. Michelle Reba is a research hydrologist and lead scientist at the USDA-ARS Delta Water Management Research Unit (DWMRU)-located on campus at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR. The mission of the unit is to execute research related to agricultural water resources management at the plot, field, farm and watershed scales to further our knowledge base, evaluate technological solutions and inform crop production practices. Dr. Reba earned her B.S. in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan, M.S. in forest hydrology and civil engineering at Oregon State University, and Ph.D. in civil engineering at the University of Idaho. Dr. Reba is an adjunct professor in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Technology at Arkansas State University and Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Arkansas. Dr. Reba has studied water resources issues in the western United States, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Antarctica. Dr Reba also happens to be the most recent (i.e. 2020) recipient of the USA Rice Sustainability Award.


  • Part 3: Development of U.S. Rice Varieties for the Latin American Export Market

    Part 3: Development of U.S. Rice Varieties for the Latin American Export Market

    Broadcast Date: May 20, 2021 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm central
    Price: Free for members, $49 each for nonmembers, or $196 for all 5

    Registration Options

    Webinar Overview

    ​Over half of the rice produced in the United States is exported. As a region, Central America is our second largest market. It has been a top market for U.S. rice for many years, however, exports have fallen significantly over the past several years. The major driver behind this decline is grain quality, primarily grain appearance (chalk) and cooking quality (stickiness). To address these issues, the LSU AgCenter Rice Breeding Program has begun working to breed new rice varieties with the quality parameters desired by the Latin American market. The initial focus of this work has been to collaborate with members of U.S. and Latin American rice industries to create a consensus of the desired grain quality parameters for US rice being exported to Latin America. Upon defining these characteristics, suitable germplasm from the US and Latin America has been identified for use in the short- and long-term solutions. This webinar will highlight the plans of this project, present some of the findings thus far, and discuss future research and timelines. This work has been supported the USA Rice, a nonprofit trade association representing all segments of the U.S. rice industry. 


    About the Presenter


    Dr. Adam Famoso

    Dr. Adam Famoso
    Louisiana State University

    Dr. Adam Famoso specializes in rice breeding and genetics, molecular breeding, trait mapping, and discovery. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture from Pennsylvania State University in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Plant breeding and Genetics from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, in 2010. Afterwards, he worked as Research Scientist, Rice Breeding Systems with the Breeding Technologies Group, DuPont Pioneer, Johnston, IA until 2015 when he joined Louisiana State University as Assistant Professor. Dr Famoso leads a large-scale, multidisciplinary and applied rice breeding program that develops improved varieties for Louisiana and the Southern U.S. His breeding efforts include the creation and screening of new germplasm at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station and a winter nursery in Lajas, Puerto Rico. His program has also established SNP DNA marker laboratory to incorporate molecular breeding approaches into its variety development efforts. Over 30,000 samples are screened each year, generating 100,000s of data points from which genes are discovered, markers developed and validated for use in varietal improvement.


  • Part 4: Investigations of Connections Between the Carbon and Water Cycles in Rice Production Environments

    Part 4: Investigations of Connections Between the Carbon and Water Cycles in Rice Production Environments

    Broadcast Date: May 27, 2021 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm central
    Price: Free for members, $49 each for nonmembers, or $196 for all 5

    Registration Options

    Webinar Overview

    Our research group works to test and develop climate-smart agricultural practices in U.S. rice production. Rice cultivation has a large water demand and is responsible for 8-10% of the world’s anthropogenic methane emissions. Conservation practices that aim to reduce water and decrease methane emissions are important in generating a climate-friendly food system. A water saving irrigation practice, known as alternate wetting and drying (AWD), introduces deliberate soil aerobic conditions that are known to reduce methane emissions. Our group uses micrometeorological techniques over the rice field landscape to better quantify these dynamics at the production scale. We have demonstrated a 60% reduction in CH4 emissions without harming harvest yield under AWD treatments compared to conventional irrigation treatments. Our research also includes the use of decision support tools that provide guidance to farmers to increase farm sustainability in order to compete in a market that increasingly demands sustainable products. These findings and others will be contextualized in a discussion about sustainability aspects of rice production in the U.S. Mid-South.


    About the Presenter


    Dr.  Beatriz Moreno-Garcia

    Dr. Beatriz Moreno-Garcia
    The Landscape Flux Group

    Dr. Beatriz Moreno-Garcia is a postdoctoral researcher with the The Landscape Flux Group within the Biological & Agricultural Engineering Department at the University of Arkansas. She started working in this position in 2018. She has a B.S in Environmental Sciences and M.S. in Engineering of Chemical and Environmental Processes from Juan Carlos University, Spain. Her Ph.D. was in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, from the University of Zaragoza, Spain. Her doctoral dissertation was on “Response of paddy rice to fertilization with pig slurry in Mediterranean conditions”. Since her doctoral degree, her research has been focused on sustainable agriculture, especially on rice systems. She is currently conducting studies on water-saving practices implemented in rice production systems in the US Mid-South and the assessment of these practices from a life-cycle perspective using farm-level decision support tools. This research provides guidance to rice farms to compete in a market that increasingly demands sustainable products.


  • Part 5: A Global Perspective on Sustainable Rice Cultivation

    Part 5: A Global Perspective on Sustainable Rice Cultivation

    Broadcast Date: June 10, 2021 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm central
    Price: Free for members, $49 each for nonmembers, or $196 for all 5

    Registration Options

    Webinar Overview

    The global demand for staple crop products is expected to grow by 60% between 2010 and 2050 mainly as a result of increased population, per capita income growth and use of biofuels. This is also the case for rice, which provides 20% of the world’s food energy. Global demand for rice will continue to increase from 479 million tons in 2014/15 to 551 million tons in 2029/30. To meet this estimated future demand, agricultural production must be enhanced in an environmentally sustainable manner in the context of increasing competition for water, land and labor, as well as the constantly evolving threat from abiotic and biotic stresses, and under potentially more extreme weather conditions associated with climate change. Agriculture also needs to address problems of poor food and nutrition security for smallholder rice farmers, including women farmers.

    This presentation reviews recent efforts to benchmark rice yield gaps and/or resource-use efficiency for wide range of rice systems that can serve to prioritize agricultural R&D investments at national level to global scales to increase rice production while reducing associated environmental impact.


    About the Presenter


    Dr. Kazuki Saito

    Dr. Kazuki Saito
    Africa Rice Center

    Dr. Kazuki Saito is an agronomist employed by the Africa Rice Center, based in Côte d'Ivoire. He has >20 years of work experience in both Asia (2000-2005 as part of my MSc and PhD studies) and sub-Saharan Africa (2006-present). He is currently leading a multi-institutional Flagship Project 3: ‘Sustainable farming systems’ as part of the new RICE CRP led by IRRI (2017-present). He is also research fellow in Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (2017-present). His works have focused on yield gap assessment, diagnostic surveys, integrated management practices including a decision support tool on nutrient management practices (‘RiceAdvice’), climate risk assessment, farming systems research, and improvement of yield potential and abiotic/biotic stress resistance in rice. He was coordinator of the ‘Africa-wide Rice Agronomy Task Force’ involving scientists from 21-member countries in sub-Saharan Africa, aiming to develop and out-scale improved agricultural practices for rice (2013-2017).

    He has authored and co-authored >80 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. He received PhD degree in Agriculture from Kyoto University, Japan on ‘Description, constraints and improvement of slash-and-burn upland rice production systems in northern Laos’. He was awarded the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Young Promising Scientists in 2015.