What if farmers, instead of picking up some agricultural chemicals at their local dealer, picked up a load of agricultural microbes instead?
It's something to contemplate, because some big names in the pesticide business — like Bayer and Monsanto — are putting money behind attempts to turn soil microbes into tools that farmers can use to give their crops a boost.
It's a symptom of the soaring interest in the ways microbes affect all of life. In our bodies, they help fight off disease. In the soil, they help deliver nutrients to plants, and perhaps much more.
A lively discussion about seed saving. Host Jill Spears is joined by regular guests Lance Swigart and Lulu Volkhausen, along with special guests Pat Frazier and Sara Pope. Pat is a biodynamic gardening expert, and Sara is in charge of the seed library at Hotchkiss Public Library.
Our regular host, Jill Spears, is away this week, so Patricia Naft is acting as guest host. Gardeners Lance Swigart & Lulu Volkhausen discuss a variety of issues, including the "dirty dozen," non-organic products that have the highest levels of pesticide residues. Weather, of course, is a big subject this week, as we had a bout of cold temperatures & quite a bit of snow. Several callers chimed in with questions & comments.
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 3:25 pm
A bill to expand farm-to-school programs in Colorado initially cleared the state House Tuesday, but it still faces objections from some lawmakers who call it unnecessary.
House Bill 1088 [.pdf] would set up grants to help farms and ranches meet federal safety standards to they could sell their locally produced food to schools.
"This program boosts our economy, it creates jobs, and we have schools right now who want to buy more local food from our farmers and the supply chain does not exist," said bill sponsor Representative Faith Winter (D-Westminster).
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 12:07 pm
A farm in Iowa is going to destroy more than five million of its chickens in an attempt to curb the spread of the highly infectious avian flu.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the H5N2 avian influenza outbreak Monday, adding that the agency says that there is little chance that humans could become infected. According to the department's press release:
Originally published on Sun April 26, 2015 1:14 pm
California is parched. Wells are running dry. Vegetable fields have been left fallow and lawns are dying. There must be some villain behind all this, right?
Of course there is. In fact, have your pick. As a public service, The Salt is bringing you several of the leading candidates. They have been nominated by widely respected national publications and interest groups.
There's just one problem: Not all of these shady characters live up to their nefarious job description. Let us explain.
Pesticide-free? Nurtured with organic fertilizer? No antibiotics?
Ask any shopper, and you're bound to find mixed answers for what an organic label means.
Now, an association is trying to draw funding from something called a "checkoff" to pay for consumer advertising and research. For a checkoff to work, each farmer pays a small amount. For example, a penny-per-bushel of wheat or a dollar per cow would generate millions of dollars in pooled funding that could pay for splashy ad campaigns.
Our regular host Jill Spears caught a bug, so news host Patricia Naft filled in, with gardening guru Lance Swigart. More spring chores, & signs that the season is generally arriving weeks early this year.
Host Jill Spears & 'Gardening Guru' Lance Swigart discuss early spring gardening chores as spring seems to be arriving about 3 weeks early. They also encourage their listeners to call & pledge support to KVNF during the Spring Pledge Drive, which arrived right on schedule!
Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 10:00 am
When it comes to the current controversy over antibiotic use on farm animals, milk is in a special category.
Lactating cows, unlike hogs, cattle or chickens that are raised for their meat, don't receive antibiotics unless they are actually sick. That's because drug residues immediately appear in the cow's milk — a violation of food safety rules.
Milk shipments are tested for six of the most widely used antibiotics, and any truckload that tests positive is rejected. So when cows are treated, farmers discard their milk for several days until the residues disappear.
Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees: apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables.
And then she bought her first chickens.
"A lot of people call chickens the gateway animal," says Creech, who lives in rural North Salem, Ind. "Like once you have a chicken on the farm, then you end up getting sheep on the farm, and then you end up getting horses, and cows. And then it just explodes from there."
Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:20 pm
The federal government banned the sale of raw milk across state lines nearly three decades ago because it poses a threat to public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association all strongly advise people not to drink it.