Michele Reba is a research hydrologist with the Agriculture Research Service.

JONESBORO, ARKANSAS, US — Michele Reba, PhD, a research hydrologist with the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) of the US Department of Agriculture, has been recognized as the 2020 recipient of the USA Rice Sustainability Award. Reba was chosen for her leadership and innovative research around sustainable rice production.

USA Rice said Reba’s specialties in civil engineering and hydrology make her unique in the rice research world. In addition, her research, nearly all of which is conducted on-farm in collaboration with producers, includes irrigation conservation, irrigation automation, rice straw management, edge of field monitoring of water quality and greenhouse gas emissions, and artificial recharge of the alluvial aquifer.

“We as an industry are blessed to have dedicated researchers like Dr. Reba willing to think out of the box to tackle the many challenges we face,” said Mike Sullivan, who farms in Burdette, Arkansas, US.  “Her willingness to listen and know the heartbeat of the farmers she is working with in defining our problems and working toward solutions on a daily basis is invaluable. She has proven that we can take small plot research and replicate it over large fields to validate its value to the producer.”

Reba leads the Delta Water Management Research Unit located on the campus of Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro, Arkansas, US. At ASU, Reba’s unit seeks to execute research related to agricultural water resources management at the plot, field, farm, and watershed scales to gain more knowledge while evaluating technological solutions and informing crop production practices.

Created in 2016, the USA Rice Sustainability Award recognizes the efforts of all segments of the industry to not only conserve natural resources, but to find innovative ways to address all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social sustainability.  A subcommittee of the USA Rice Sustainability Committee chooses the winner based on several criteria, including leadership in the industry and broader sustainability community, and a history of promoting and advancing sustainability through innovative practices. Last year’s award winner was Delta Plastics, which was recognized for the company’s focus on recycling and reduction of water usage across the Mississippi Delta.