Agriculture and Harvest Public Media

Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
8:28 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Series from Harvest Public Media Highlights Role of Age in Farming

The Hawthorn farm has been in the family for four generations since it was founded in the late 1870s by Bob Hawthorn’s great-grandfather who went by the name “Trapper.”
Credit Ray Meints / Nebraska Educational Telecommunications

Next week IPR is launching a 5-part series during Morning Edition from Harvest Public Media on the role of age in farming. It's called "Changing Hands, Changing Lands." It includes a television documentary on Iowa Public Television that airs on August 16th.

IPR's Clay Masters spoke with IPR's Harvest Public Media reporter, Amy Mayer, about the series and some of the research and reporting that went into the project. 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Bin technology helps protect grain, farmers

Scott Haugan's Marshalltown company HOWGAN SCC offers grain mangaers tools to monitor conditions inside storage bins.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Across the rural Midwest, landscapes are dotted with tall, cylindrical storage containers for grain. Commercial grain elevators and on-farm bins hold commodity crops so they can be sold throughout the year. With yields growing and prices fluctuating, stored corn or soybeans can be as good as money in the bank.  But only if the quality is maintained.

That’s something Kevin Larson’s been monitoring during more than 40 years of farming in Story County. When he started with his dad, he says everyone stored corn, still on the cob, in their own cribs.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 8, 2013

My Farm Roots: Providing From the Land

As a child Robert Harris Jr. worked picking cotton. Now, he’s back out in the fields, this time growing produce for the needy.
Jacob McCleland for Harvest Public Media

This is the ninth installment of the 2013 edition 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:30 am
Fri August 2, 2013

The Windmill Wizard

Rick Fredericksen Iowa Public Radio

At the same time utility companies erect modern wind turbines across the Iowa countryside, old fashioned windmills are rusting away on abandoned farmsteads. But there's one man who is out to preserve the crumpled icons, one windmill at a time. Meet the Windmill Wizard.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Recess prolongs farm bill delay

The lack of federal policy, farmers say, makes planning their fields for next year difficult. These fields in Guthrie County were photographed in early June.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Congress is set to leave town for its summer recess Aug. 2 without passing a new farm bill. The current farm bill extension expires just weeks after lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington and that’s leaving some farmers feeling stymied about planning.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu August 1, 2013

My Farm Roots: Always a farmer

As state secretary of agriculture, Becky Doyle and Gov. Jim Edgar, center, ride through the 1991 Illinois State Fair.
Courtesy of State Journal-Register

This is the eighth installment of the 2013 edition 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:32 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Going Going Gone

Credit Courtesy photo

A new report out Tuesday shows millions of wetland acres and highly erodible grassland and prairie are being plowed under and planted into row crops. This in turn causes intense soil erosion especially in a wet spring like this year. The four year, multi state study was conducted by Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/research/going-going-gone.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue July 30, 2013

How secure is the Fort Knox of seeds?

Dave Dierig, research leader at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, stands among the ceiling-high shelves that hold the 600,000 seed packets in this cold storage vault.
Grace Hood/KUNC

When unapproved genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn’t take long for accusations about how it ended up there to start flying. A flurry of initial finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Fort Collins, Colo., which housed the same strain of wheat, developed by Monsanto Corp., for about seven years up until late 2011.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Corn belt researchers advance soybean science

University of Missouri plant scientist Melissa Mitchum inspects a plant for soybean cyst nematode in her greenhouse.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the nation’s farmerswill deliver a record 3.42 billion bushels of soybeans this year. The USDA is also forecasting that this year for the first time Brazil will overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of soybeans.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 25, 2013

My Farm Roots: Looking back fondly

Paul Horel, 66, left the family farm as soon as he could. Now, though, he appreciates lessons learned as a farm kid.
Justine Greve for Harvest Public Media

 

This is the seventh installment of the 2013 edition 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Can planned grazing revive cropland soil?

William Burnidge, left, an ecologist with the Nature Conservancy, is working with rancher Nathan Andrews to test out a different method of grazing.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

 

The world’s soil is in trouble. Ecologists say without dramatic changes to how we manage land, vast swathes of grassland are at risk of turning into hard-packed desert. To make sure that doesn’t happen, researchers are testing out innovative ways to keep moisture in the soil.

In eastern Colorado, one way could be in the plodding hooves of cattle.

Conventional wisdom tells you, if ranchland ground has less grass, the problem is too many cows. But that’s not always the case. It depends on how you manage them, if you make sure they keep moving.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:03 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Corn Crew

Veteran detasslers Mackenzie McLaughlin and David Jaramillo
Pat Blank

A Midwest summertime tradition is in full swing: corn detasseling.  Every summer, seed corn companies hire thousands of seasonal workers to remove the top of the corn plant to produce hybrid varieties.  The minimum age in Iowa to do the work is 14. Those as young as 12 can detassel in Illinois and Nebraska.  Many crew leaders who started in their teens are now in their 50s and 60s.  Workers say even though it's often hot in the cornfield and the work is tedious, they return year after year because they are paid good money by the companies.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Prairie plants help nourish farmland

Southwest Iowa cattleman Seth Watkins revels in the tall grasses and clear ponds on his pastureland. He says prairie helps his cattle, his business, the soil and the water.
Amy Mayer/IPR

The world’s soil is in trouble, even in the fertile Midwest.  Some experts warn that if degradation continues unchecked, topsoil could be gone in 60 years—with implications for agriculture and the broader environment.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Food hubs help grow local farms

After joining a food hub, Donna O’Shaughnessy was able to quit her job as a nurse to work full-time on her farm.
Sean Powers for Harvest Public Media

Restaurants across the country have jumped on the local food bandwagon. They’re trying to source more of their produce from nearby farms, but it's not easy. Enter: Food hubs.

Food hubs are popping up across the country. These food processing and distribution centers make it easier for restaurants, grocery stores and others to buy local food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that there are more than 220 of them in 40 states plus the District of Columbia.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Thu July 18, 2013

My Farm Roots: Hardwired for hard work

Amy Konishi has lived in Rocky Ford, Colo., her entire life. In the 1980s, a local newspaper profiled the long connection she and husband had to the area.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This is the sixth installment of the 2013 edition 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.

Amy Konishi says when her obituary is written it’ll read, “All she knew was work.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:35 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Veterinary Camp

Dr. Pat Rohret shows campers how to give a simple exam
Credit Pat Blank

There are numerous opportunities this summer for young people to attend day camps, anything from sports to how to be Annie in a Broadway show. The Iowa Veterinary Medical Association offers hands-on opportunities for teens to see what it takes to be a vet. IPR's Pat Blank has the story from the Dallas County Fair in Adel.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Metal thefts plague farm country

Mike Obermann was among the victims of a rash of metal thefts in rural Missouri. Since then, he has installed theft-protection measures on his farm.
Payne Roberts/Harvest Public Media

Along the 1200 Road in Windsor, Mo., there is plenty of gravel and farmland. But one thing it is short of is people.

Miles of green fields separate the farms that occupy this area of Windsor, a rural town of 3,000, making area farms easy targets in a series of metal thefts that robbed farmers of the tools they needed to do their jobs.

Mike Obermann was among the victims. He owns a farm of row crops and cattle northwest of Windsor with his wife. In the theft, he lost $500-600 worth of fencing material and an aluminum boat.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Fri July 12, 2013

House passes farm-only farm bill

Many farmers are resigned to being unable to depend on rock-solid federal farm policy.
Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. House passed its version of farm bill legislation Thursday. The revamped bill strips out funding for food aid and deals only with farm policy, exposing a hefty rift in decades-old alliances between urban and rural legislators and between food aid and farm policy interests.

Now, that alliance has been battered.

“Agriculture has joined many of the other topics that are discussed in Congress in becoming a partisan debate of policy,” said Chad Hart, an economist with Iowa State University.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 11, 2013

My Farm Roots: Wings

Kelly Hagler left her family’s farm in northwest Missouri for the bright lights of Chicago, but her family and the farm are never far from her thoughts.
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

This is the fifth installment of the 2013 edition 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.

Kelly Hagler, 25, is among the millions of young people who have left rural communities for the bright lights of the city, in this case Chicago.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:51 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Detasseling Delay

Most detasseling crews include teens and young adults
Credit Courtesy photo

The wet spring has delayed the growth of corn used for seed by Iowa companies including the largest, DuPont Pioneer. That, in turn, has pushed back the schedule of hundreds of part time workers who make money in the fields by removing the top of the plant known as the tassel.  Production manager for the Reinbeck facility, Colby Entriken says ,"we're hoping to start pulling tassels next week which is about a week behind schedule.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:09 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Dining on Nettles, Milkweed and Dandelions

Forager Adam Hintz said knowing how to find food in nature gives him a sense of food security, knowing that even if a natural catastrophe disrupts the food production chain, he can still feed his family.
Credit Hilary Stohs-Krause / Harvest Public Media

 

 It’s a humid, windy day in southeast Nebraska, and Adam Hintz is hunting for morels. The mushroom, which kind of looks like a shrunken brain, is known for being elusive, and so far, nothing’s turned up.

But lots of other edibles have.

“This is a common milkweed,” Hintz said, eying a patch of knee-high green plants with veiny leaves. “You can eat it in three different forms throughout the year.”

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Thu July 4, 2013

My Farm Roots: A cowboy at heart

Once an average suburban Colorado kid, Trent Johnson spent years ranching and now owns storied cowboy outfitter Greeley Hat Works.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

This is the fourth installment of the 2013 edition 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.

Trent Johnson didn’t grow up on a farm, but he was always enamored with the cowboy lifestyle.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Who wants biotech wheat?

Nebraska farmer Larry Flohr, squeezes out a kernel of unripened wheat.
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:05 am
Thu June 27, 2013

My Farm Roots: A song in her heart

Retired professor Jackie Dougan Jackson lives in Springfield, Ill., but devotes a lot of time reflecting on her childhood growing up on a farm near Beloit, Wisc.
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

This is the third installment of the 2013 edition 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.

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Hearty Rootworms Revive
8:57 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Farmers Return to Insecticides

Credit Aaron Gassmann

After foregoing insecticides for a decade, Iowa corn farmers are returning to chemicals to control their  number one  pest, the corn rootworm.   That’s because the insect has developed resistance to Bt corn.    Experts say that’s  bad for farmers' profits  and the environment.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Scientists check Corn Belt waters for effects of ag runoff

One of the U.S. Geological Survey teams collecting water samples in Missouri this summer: biologist Diana Papoulias, chemist Dave Alvarez, hydrologist Peter Van Metre, biologist Diane Nicks and environmental toxicologist Don Tillitt.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Eleven miles northeast of Centralia, Mo., five U.S. Geological Survey scientists don waders and bright reflective life jackets to wade into Goodwater Creek. Plenty of fish live in the stream’s murky slow-moving waters, along with snakes, crayfish, mussels and snapping turtles. On this overcast morning, the team collects water samples and checks submerged cages of fathead minnows for eggs.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Starting a farm, with an immigrant twist

Air Philavanh bought an 11-acre farm in Milo, Iowa after living in the Midwest for about 30 years. He came to this country as a refugee from Laos in his early 20s.
Amy Mayer/IPR

Air Philavanh is a new farmer in central Iowa who came to this country from Laos as a refugee more than 30 years ago. Today, he’s living on an 11-acre farm in Milo, Iowa about an hour from Des Moines. He bought the place three years ago and he’s built a brand-new shelter for his four beef calves off the end of a decrepit old barn. He’s made many other improvements, too, as he gets his farm up and running. In addition to the cattle, he hopes to add ducks. It’s a far cry from his day job with Citigroup—and not what he initially imagined for himself.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
10:41 pm
Sun June 23, 2013

Farm fields dotted with rainwater instead of crops

Farm fields stymied by frequent rain are well past optimum planting dates making thousands of acres unproductive this season. Farmers hope to be able to seed cover crops to prevent wind and water from eroding the barren top soil.
Photo by Dean Borg

Farmers in Winnebago, Worth, and Cerro Gordo  counties have been stymied by frequent, heavy rains. Now well past optimum planting dates, thousands of acres will be unproductive this year as farmers hope to be able to seed cover crops to prevent wind and water from eroding the barren top soil.


 

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:59 am
Fri June 21, 2013

House rejects farm bill

The Farm Bill rejected by the House would have cut $2 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. Many Republicans were hoping for more cuts, while many Democrats thought the cuts too onerous.
Credit tpsdav/pixabay

In a stunning move, the U.S. House voted against approving farm bill legislation Thursday, leaving the bill's future up in the air.

The House rejected the farm bill on a final tally of 234-195 after a day of dramatic, tight votes on amendments to the bill.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:42 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Cousins raise fish in former hog barn

These hybrid bass are grown at Iowa's First
Pat Blank

Cousins and long-time business partners Jeff and Mark Nelson have immersed  themselves in aquaculture. They're growing fish in a part of the country where pork is king. They've converted a former hog confinement building into a farm-raised fish venture called Iowa's First.  They have eighteen, ten thousand gallon tanks filled with hybrid bass which they ship to restaurants all over the country. The Nelsons are also experimenting with growing shrimp.

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