agriculture

My Farm Roots: Barb and Lynn Handy

Aug 29, 2012
Camille Phillips / Harvest Public Media

This is the seventh installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

My Farm Roots: Rhonda McClure

Aug 22, 2012
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

This is the seventh installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

My Farm Roots: Ryan Brady

Aug 15, 2012
Justine Greve / Harvest Public Media

This is the sixth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

This is the fifth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

When a guy is a mechanical engineer at a nuclear power plant, you figure he puts in a pretty good day of work.

Not so for Nolan Strawder, whose day job, as he calls it, is at the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Burlington, Kan.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

North America’s largest food distributor, Sysco, is the latest company to announce it will phase out pork produced with a controversial technology known as gestation crates. A growing number of consumers say they want more humanely produced meat on their plates, but many farmers worry they’ll be left picking up the tab.

Craig Rowles grew up on an Iowa farm, and like a lot of farm kids, he’s done his share of heavy lifting.

My Farm Roots: Jan Phillips

Aug 1, 2012
Courtesy Jan Phillips / Harvest Public Media

This is the fourth installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots (http://www.harvestpublicmedia.org/myfarmroots) stories and to share your own.

My Farm Roots: Tom Karst

Jul 24, 2012
Donna Vestal / Harvest Public Media

In this week's installment, we meet Tom Karst. He's the national editor for "The Packer," a trade newspaper covering the fruit and vegetable industry. For more than 25 years, he’s been reporting on issues of importance to the produce industry, including immigration, farm policy, and food safety.

To explore more "My Farm Roots" stories, and share your own, visit: http://harvestpublicmedia.org/myfarmroots

Summer Drought

Jul 19, 2012
Clint Alley / flickr

Most of Iowa is now experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions… along with more than half the country.  On today's "River to River' we hear from farmers, business owners and cities about how they’re being affected.  We talk with Elwynn Taylor about the prospects for turning the dry weather around.  And Harry Hillaker tells us how this drought compares with others in the state’s history. 

My Farm Roots: Nan Gardiner

Jul 18, 2012
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

This is the second installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s new series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here (http://harvestpublicmedia.org/myfarmroots)to explore more My Farm Rootsstories and to share your own.

It’s not every day that a trip to the drug store can change your destiny.

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

Jul 16, 2012
Urban-Ag Academy / Facebook

In the Iowa Statehouse, and in statehouses across the nation, representatives are finding themselves separated—not by party lines, but by whether they come from an urban or rural district.  This weekend, the first national Urban Ag Academy was held in Des Moines. The goal? To look at that divide and to give a voice to minority farmers.

Bridging the Gap Between Rural, Urban Ag

Jul 16, 2012
Urban-Ag Academy / Facebook

In the Iowa Statehouse, and in statehouses across the nation, representatives are finding themselves separated—not by party lines, but by whether they come from an urban or rural district.  This weekend, the first Urban Ag Academy was held in Des Moines. The goal? To look at that divide and to give a voice to minority farmers. More than sixty state representatives from across the country came together to in an effort to help bridge the divide between city and country. 

Andrea Silenzi / Harvest Public Media

This is the first installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s new series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here (http://harvestpublicmedia.org/myfarmroots) to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.

Kate Edwards hasn’t always been a farmer. No, she came back to the farm after college, grad school and a stint as an environmental engineer.

Clay Masters / IPR

The mighty Missouri River flows through 7 states and drains one-sixth of the water in the United States.  It’s a powerful force that gives life to the land.  But last year’s flood that lasted over 110 days has people talking… and fighting for the future. Here’s Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters, with part two of our special report.

Iowa State University

Farmers are already making changes to adjust to global warming. A researcher from Iowa State University meets with agriculture officials, including USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, in Washington, D.C. Thursday.  ISU Climate Science Program Director Dr. Gene Takle is briefing Vilsack and other officials on how to prepare and plan for global warming.  He says climate change actually has some benefits for farmers, at least in the short-term. But he the greatest risk for the industry is unpredictability and wild fluctuations in weather patterns.

Making it in the Middle: the mid-sized farmer

May 25, 2012
Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

A few years ago, things were going smoothly for Eric Neill and his family.

Neill was making good money as a construction superintendent for a commercial contractor in Kansas City, traveling the country, running challenging job sites. But he wasn’t satisfied.

“I decided I wanted to be a farmer,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be a farmer.”

So Neill and his wife, Julie Neill, met with an extension agent and asked how they could make a living with a farm.

That is a tall order.

Who are you calling a corporate farmer?

May 24, 2012
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

A surprising thing happens while touring Chris Boeckmann’s turkey farm, where 50,000 birds are grown each year for Cargill Inc.

After seeing the huge brooder barn, after looking into a second enormous facility for the older birds and after spying the Cargill sign, the obvious conclusion is that this is a corporate farm.

Farmers of the Future

May 23, 2012

The 2007 U-S Census of Agriculture reveals these trends… the percentage of women and Hispanic farmers is growing.  And farmers are getting older.  For today's Talk of Iowa, in cooperation with Harvest Public Media, we talk with Farmers of the Future.  Young farmers trying to break into the business tell us how they’re overcoming obstacles and planning for changes in agriculture.

Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

The farmer of future will grow food and raise animals with tomorrow in mind. They’ll know contributing to the food supply is not enough. If the soil, air and water they use to produce food is damaged, good luck feeding anyone.  

That’s the idea, anyway, behind “sustainability” — one of the big buzz words in agriculture today. It’s all about making sure natural resources are not depleted or permanently damaged so that we can farm into the future.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

There’s always work to be done on the farm, but often it’s the same work day, after day, after day. Parts of the job must feel a bit like an assembly line.

While it’s impossible to automate farming like many manufacturers have automated their assembly lines, using robotic technology on the farm might not be so far off.

The biological and agricultural engineering robotics team at Kansas State University knows a thing or two about agricultural robots. They’ve won national robotics competitions in each of the last five years.

Dow Chemical’s so-called “Agent Orange Corn” is being criticized by some in the agriculture community but is being praised by others as weed resistance plagues farmers. Corn producers fret about a possible decline in corn prices in a record planting year, and beef producers are concerned about affects of the controversy regarding “lean finely textured beef.” This hour we talk with Rob Swoboda, the editor of Wallace’s Farmer, Dan Piller of the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Radio correspondent Clay Masters about issues facing Iowa’s agriculture industry.

Last fall, officials predicted that farmland along the Missouri River might be out of production for at least a year. The flood of 2011 piled up sand dunes, gouged out deep holes and killed off many of the microbes that help crops grow.

But now it’s spring, and farmers are back on the land trying to fix what nature broke.

There’s something not quite picture-perfect about this picturesque farmland, known as Blackbird Bend, along the Missouri River near Onawa.   A 24-row corn planter is brushing over the tops of an already stunning winter wheat crop, twelve inches high. 

Across the Corn Belt, farmers are hoping this fall’s harvest could be one for the record books. With planting season already off to a roaring start, farmers say they’re putting in more acres of corn than they have since the Great Depression.

Wild Horses Come to Iowa

Apr 23, 2012

You have to weave between Amish buggies on the gravel road that leads to the Davis County Fairgrounds.

There, this weekend, corrals are holding more than 30 burros and wild horses.

Most of the animals quietly munch on hay. They pay little attention to the families and kids coming up to stalls.

Dave Berg is a specialist for the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM.

“If they have good food and clean water, they’re happy campers," he says. "And out in the wild, they do not have good food and clean water that readily available.”

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Staying in the middle of the country, you might have heard that America's farmers are getting older. Something else you probably know: women tend to outlive men. So do the math and what do you get? More women in charge of land and some who aren't really sure how to take care of it. So as Iowa Public Radio's Sarah McCammon reports, female conservationists are reaching out to this growing group.

Dairy industry pushes for reform

Mar 27, 2012

Many dairymen are calling the government price support system broken, but just how to fix it isn't clear. There's debate over how much the government should step in to help in tough times and as to what degree it should let the free market govern.  

Symphony of the Soil

Mar 25, 2012

Charity talks with filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia about her new documentary "Symphony of the Soil". The film explores the world of soil- how it's formed, its life cycle, human uses and misuses in agriculture. Koons Garcia, the widow of legendary Grateful Dead lead singer Jerry Garcia, is in Iowa this week screening the film. Joining the soil conversation is Leopold Center Distinguished Fellow Fred Kirschenmann and Fairfield farmer and former National Program Leader for Soil Science Francis Thicke.

It’s too early to plant, but it’s not too early for farmers to get out in their fields. This hour we discuss strips of prairie that can strengthen a field of corn or soybeans and other soil conservation techniques. We’ll also talk about how farmers decide when to plant in a year that's turned out be one of the warmest late winters in Iowa history. Guests include Jim Gillespie of the Iowa Department of Agriculture; Dr. Richard Cruse of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University; and Forest City-area farmer, Riley Lewis.

For more than 35 years, Diane Ott Whealy has been a national leader in the heirloom seed movement and a strong advocate for the protection of the earth's genetic food stocks. In 1986, she helped to develop Heritage Farm, Seed Saver's scenic 890-acre headquarters near Decorah. In a program that originally aired last October, Diane talks about her book Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver. It tells the story people's dream that became reality with the help of like-minded individuals and led to the establishment of the Seed Savers Exchange.

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