Engineering Fellow Honored for Work Improving Environmental Outcomes for Rice Production

Associate Professor Benjamin Runkle and Beatriz Moreno-García
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Associate Professor Benjamin Runkle and Beatriz Moreno-García

Postdoctoral fellow Beatriz Moreno-García was recognized Nov. 15 as the Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture's 2022 Trusted Adviser of the Year for her outstanding leadership in supporting farmers' journeys of continuous improvement.

Providing valuable counsel to Arkansas farmers, Moreno-García champions sustainable solutions to reduce the environmental impact of rice production, working with farmers to help them try sustainable practices and monitor their improvements.

 "I have always been concerned and worried about sustainability, especially in agriculture, because we have an increased global population, and if we continue to use natural resources as we are using them now, we won't be able to feed the world population in a few years," said Beatriz Moreno-García, a fellow in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

That concept is what has driven Moreno-García throughout her education and into her career.

"I studied environmental sciences — I didn't study agronomy," remarks Moreno-García. "But there is, of course, a link between both because agriculture has an environmental impact."

Following her undergraduate environmental science studies at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain, Moreno-García completed a Ph.D. at the University of Zaragoza and Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón in Zaragoza, Spain, focusing on the use of organic fertilizers in rice production and their environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions.

She came to the U of A for her postdoctoral research and has been here ever since.

"I knew the University of Arkansas was working on the implementation of sustainable practices in rice, so I wanted to come here," she said. "Now, my work is focused on sustainable practices in rice, specifically focusing on water-saving practices."

When asked why she chose rice for her studies, her answer was clear — rice is an important crop for food consumption and has a lot of room for improvement in terms of environmental impact.

"Rice provides 20 percent of the calorie consumption in the world, so it's incredibly important," she explained. "But because of the way rice is grown, it has a high environmental impact and therefore a lot of areas to improve its sustainability."

Moreno-García's adviser, associate professor Benjamin Runkle, noted that this honor is a testament to her hard work, integrity and intellect.

"Beatriz combines scientific rigor, as evidenced in her research output, with a careful understanding of field, farm and farmer characteristics that require tailor-made sustainability guidance for each rice production setting," he said. "It is fantastic that Field to Market has recognized what we have long known: Beatriz is a gifted and trusted communicator with a strong grounding in contemporary scientific knowledge."

Field to Market also produced this video highlighting Moreno-García and her work.

Contacts

Benjamin Runkle, associate professor
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
479-575-2846, brrunkle@uark.edu

Jennifer P. Cook, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, jpc022@uark.edu

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