Agribusiness Students Gain Hands-On Experience at Rice Research Farm

Four Southeast Missouri State University students recently served as Temporary Research Technicians with Dr. Christian De Guzman, Rice Research Fellow, at the Missouri Rice Research Farm west of Malden, Missouri, in northern Dunklin County.

The research project involved rice variety development through breeding and genetics. The students assisted in manual harvesting, threshing, cleaning and storage of selected seeds.

“The goal is to select the best possible lines that have a potential to be released as a variety,” De Guzman explained. “Hand harvesting allows the selection of pure seeds and prevents mixing from other sources when machine harvested.”

The student technicians included Andrew Collier and Dalton Manuel, both junior agribusiness majors, plant and soil science option, from Dexter, Missouri; Toby Miller, a junior agribusiness major, agriculture industry option, from Parma, Missouri; and Jon Walker, a senior agribusiness major, plant and soil science option, from Bernie, Missouri.

The students hand-harvested small test plots, tied and hung the fresh crops for drying and threshed dried samples. The grains were then collected in paper sacks, labelled and sent to the lab for study.

Collier said he wanted to assist with the project to learn more about rice.

“I wanted to gain a little knowledge about the crop and get more hands-on experience in the field,” he said. “I saw another side of the operation outside of the lab.”

The students benefitted from participating in the process of collecting crop samples for study.

“Cleaning after each thresh, packaging and labeling are very important, and I think understanding the process and learning the operation is the best benefit for the students,” De Guzman said.

The Rice Research Farm operates under the direction of the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council in collaboration with Southeast’s Department of Agriculture and the University’s regional campus at Malden. The area is a prime location for rice production and research.

“Malden and the surrounding regions have clayey soils that can hold water. Rice grows mostly on flooded soils. Water through irrigation wells are in abundant supply, and very few rice diseases were observed in the Bootheel region,” De Guzmen said. “It is perfect for rice production.”