agriculture

AGRICULTURE
1:32 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Is Colorado Primed To Become The Silicon Valley Of Agriculture?

A drone built by Agribotix, a Boulder startup, flies over a farm in Weld County, Colo. The drone has a camera that snaps a high-resolution photo every two seconds. From there, Agribotix stitches the images together, helping the farmer see what's happening in a field.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media/KUNC

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 6:31 am

Colorado is famous for its beer and its beef. But what about its farm drones?

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The Salt
9:32 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Cramped Chicken Cages Are Going Away. What Comes Next?

Free-range houses allow chickens to move around freely, but operating costs were 23 percent higher than for traditional cages, according to a new study.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 1:57 pm

For the past two years, at an undisclosed location in the Upper Midwest, a large commercial egg farm has been probed with every tool of modern science. Researchers have collected data on feed consumed, eggs produced, rates of chicken death and injury, levels of dust in the air, microbial contamination and dollars spent. Graduate students have been assigned to watch hours of video of the hens in an effort to rate the animals' well-being.

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NEWS
3:57 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Why Some Schools Serve Local Food And Others Can't (Or Won't)

A lunch served by the Yarmouth, Maine, School Department on Sept. 26, 2014, featured Sloppy Joe's made with Maine beef and local beets, carrots, apples and potato salad. More than 80 percent of Maine schools said they served local foods in a survey conducted by the USDA.
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 2:23 pm

For many years, if a public school district wanted to serve students apples or milk from local farmers, it could face all kinds of hurdles. Schools were locked into strict contracts with distributors, few of whom saw any reason to start bringing in local products. Those contracts also often precluded schools from working directly with local farmers.

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AGRICULTURE
11:18 am
Tue March 3, 2015

From War To Plow: Why USDA Wants Veterans To Take Up Farming

Three years ago, Air Force veteran Sara Creech quit her job as a nurse and bought a 43-acre farm in North Salem, Ind. She named her farm Blue Yonder Organic.
John Wendle for Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:26 pm

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."

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POLITICS
1:42 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Farmers Fear Legal Status For Workers Would Lead Them Off The Farm

Nahun Villagomez Sanchez washes freshly dug Red LaSoda potatoes at T&D Willey Farms near Madera, Calif.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:00 am

The political battle over immigration, now provoking a confrontation between Congress and the White House, touches all of us in one very direct way: our food. That salad mix, and those apples, may well have been harvested by workers who arrived here in the U.S. illegally.

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AGRICULTURE
10:21 am
Fri February 20, 2015

Why Some States Want To Legalize Raw Milk Sales

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that unpasteurized milk can cause serious illness, because it's a fertile breeding ground for harmful germs like salmonella and E. coli. But such warnings haven't deterred raw milk enthusiasts.
Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

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.

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AGRICULTURE
12:03 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

A Wet And Wild Look Inside The 'Mushroom Houses' Of A Fungi Farm

Mushrooms from a farm in Chester County, Pa., dubbed the "Mushroom Capital of America."
Rich Roberts/Flickr

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 3:29 pm

As most people know, mushrooms love dark places. You can find them growing in the dim recesses of forests or at the foot of old trees. But is that where we get most of the mushrooms that end up in our hearty risottos and juicy portabella sandwiches?

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AGRICULTURE
4:03 am
Mon February 16, 2015

As Rules Get Sorted Out, Drones May Transform Agriculture Industry

Jimmy Underhill, drone technician for Agribotix, holds a drone at a farm in rural Weld County, Colorado.
Luke Runyon KUNC

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 2:57 pm

On a breezy morning next to a cornfield in rural Weld County, Colo., Jimmy Underhill quickly assembles a black and orange drone with four spinning rotors.

"This one just flies itself," he says. "It's fully autonomous."

Underhill is a drone technician with Agribotix, a Colorado-based drone startup that sees farmers as its most promising market. Today he's training his fellow employees how to work the machine in the field.

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AGRICULTURE
5:25 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Are Farmers Market Sales Peaking? That Might Be Good For Farmers

A customer shops for produce at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on March 27th, 2014 in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 6:25 am

After more than a decade of explosive growth, sales of local food at U.S. farmers' markets are slowing. A January report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that while more farmers are selling directly to consumers, local food sales at farmers markets, farm stands and through community supported agriculture have lost some momentum.

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FOOD
11:37 am
Tue February 3, 2015

How Fish Could Change What It Means For Food To Be Organic

At Troutdale Farm in Missouri, farmhand Vince Orcutt pulls out rainbow trout ready to harvest.
Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 12:58 pm

When it comes to organic certification, food producers must follow strict guidelines.

For an organic steak, for instance, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed, and the feed mix can't be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. Several consumer groups, though, say the recommended rules don't go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.

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AGRICULTURE
11:50 am
Wed January 28, 2015

2015 Likely To Be A Mixed Bag For Colorado Farmers

A global glut of wheat is keeping prices low for farmers.

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 10:34 am

2014 brought with it an abundance of grain for Colorado farmers and it doesn’t look likely to change in 2015. While farmers wait for a rebound, the new year could bring substantive policy change.

Great Plains farmers are unlikely to see relief in 2015 from sluggish commodity crop prices, according to Brian Kuehl, director of federal affairs with K-Coe Isom, one of the country’s largest agricultural consulting firms. Kuehl spoke at an economic forecast event in Greeley.

An American rebound from drought, and bumper crops in other parts of the world, have caused a grain glut that has pushed down prices for corn, wheat and soybeans. Farmers are coming off a couple seasons of some of the highest corn prices in years.

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AGRICULTURE
1:15 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

Helping Colorado Dairymen Lighten Your Milk's Energy Load

Dairyman Jim McClay in front of his cows.
Stephanie Paige Ogburn KUNC

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 11:57 am

What comes to mind when you think about milk? Like it or loathe it, you probably associate it with cereal, Oreos and milk mustaches. One thing you probably don't think about? Energy.

It turns out, it takes a lot of energy to make a gallon of milk. Recently, a few Colorado dairymen have been working to lighten their milk's energy load.

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AGRICULTURE
1:45 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Nuns On The Ranch Give A Heavenly Twist To Beef

Sister Elizabeth feeds Yoda, a water buffalo calf at the ranch. The nuns bought the buffalo to make mozzarella.
Sonja Salzburg for Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 1:17 pm

Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.

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AGRICULTURE
1:45 am
Wed December 17, 2014

For Crop-Duster Pilots, Wind Towers Present Danger

A pilot for Earl's Flying Service sprays chemicals on a field in southeastern Missouri.
Courtesy of Mike Lee

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:29 am

Crop-dusting pilots are the adrenaline junkies of the agriculture world. They whiz through the air, flying under power lines to sow seeds or spread pesticides on farmers' fields.

It's a dangerous job, and now these pilots are facing a new challenge — short towers that can sprout up in fields overnight. These towers are used to gather data for wind energy companies.

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AGRICULTURE
6:02 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Colorado Farmers Work To Ensure Diversity In Rare Sheep Breed

Black Welsh Mountain sheep, a rare breed, graze at Desert Weyr, a farm near Paonia, Colo.
Credit Laura Palmisano

Federal researchers are on a mission to back up the genetic material of the plants and animals that the nation’s food supply depends on. A pair of ranchers in the hills of western Colorado are joining in and are trying to ensure the future of the rare Black Welsh Mountain sheep.

It’s a sunny morning at Desert Weyr, a 40-acre sheep farm outside of Paonia, Colorado.

Oogie McGuire and her husband own this farm. They raise Black Welsh Mountain sheep. They’re smaller than the white sheep most people are used to seeing. They’re solid black, and the males have curled horns. 

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AGRICULTURE
1:51 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Women's Work Is Never Done On The Farm, And Sometimes Never Counted

Owner Mary Kraft at Badger Creek Dairy outside Fort Morgan, Colo.
Luke Runyon KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 9:45 am

The average American farmer is a white man in his late 50s. Or at least, that's who's in charge of the farm, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But the number of female-run farms has tripled since the 1970s, to nearly 14 percent in 2012. And if you dig a little deeper, you'll find women are showing up in new roles. But because of the way farm businesses are structured, women's work often isn't included in those USDA counts.

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AGRICULTURE
2:54 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Cheap Crops Mean Tight Times For Midwest's Fledgling Farmers

Like many beginning farmers, Grant Curtis wants to invest in his operation, but expectations of low prices are tying his hands.
Abby Wendle Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:18 pm

Farmers who just got into the business in recent years found it was a good time to both plant and harvest.

"We were all spoiled little brats the past two years, with $5, $6, $7 corn, yep," says farmer Grant Curtis.

He's sitting in the captain's chair of his combine on a brisk, overcast day in western Illinois. He's driving back and forth over rows of corn on his family's farm. Then he arcs the 80,000-pound machine off course towards a single stalk he missed.

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FOOD
4:32 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

For More Local Turkeys To Hit Holiday Tables, You Need An Abattoir

The turkeys at Kate Stillman's farm don't have to be loaded on a trailer and driven hundreds of miles this year. They now meet their ends on the same farm where they lived their lives.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 9:22 am

It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."

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FOOD
1:47 am
Mon November 17, 2014

To End Food Waste, Change Needs To Begin At Home

Sherri Erkel and her daughter, Asa, cook dinner in their kitchen in Iowa City, Iowa. The Erkel family is part of an EPA study measuring the amount of food wasted in U.S. homes.
Pat Aylward NET News

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 1:24 pm

It's a hot summer day outside Lincoln, Neb., and Jack Chappelle is knee-deep in trash. He's wading in to rotting vegetables, half-eaten burgers and tater tots. Lots of tater tots.

"You can get a lot of tater tots out of schools," Chappelle says. "It doesn't matter if it's elementary, middle school or high school. Tater tots. Bar none."

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ENVIRONMENT
8:01 am
Fri November 14, 2014

With Drought The New Normal, Calif. Farmers Find They Have To Change

California sheep rancher Dan Macon had to sell almost half of his herd because the drought left him without enough feed.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 9:37 am

Ask Northern California sheep rancher Dan Macon what this drought is doing to his pocketbook and he'll break it down for you real quick.

"It's like if you woke up one morning and lost 40 percent of the equity in your house," he says. "Our primary investment in our ranch is in these sheep and we just sold 40 percent of our stock."

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