Start: 6:30 AM - Tunica, MS
Finish: 11:30 AM - Helena, AR
Daily dist: 36
Total dist: 597 miles
Weather: NW breeze clear and cool
I was interested to learn about how rice is a huge crop in the area. It’s grown with the same flooded paddies that you envision in Asia only at a commercial scale. Buddy explained that rice plants can be grown on dry land but do require a lot of water to remain healthy. Flooding the fields serves two purposes. First it keeps the thirsty plants watered and second it acts as a sort of herb-aside by preventing other grass (weeds) from growing amongst the rice… genius really. To make the flooding easier the fields have been contoured to what is called “zero grade” meaning they have been scraped and molded to be perfectly flat and level. With no low or high spots it only takes a couple inches of water to keep the bottom of the plants covered. Of course the contour of the land does require some terracing but the individual graded paddies can be up to hundreds of acres. The way Buddies fields are set up he’s able to pump water into the highest field and through a system of dikes and gates control the flow of water down into the fields at lower elevations. The overall look of the land takes on a large patchwork of eerily flat fields delineated by ditches, dikes, and mounded access roads. Buddy rotates between crops to allow the land to rebound after feeding one type of plant for a couple years. He says that rice is great because its root structure and residual stalk left behind and burned after harvest do a great job of rebuilding the soil. Soy planted in a field after a couple years of rice often yields a good harvest.
If you happen to know of a Boeing size manufacturer that needs a town to move into, please let them know about Helena.