Agriculture

Agriculture

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

A weathered wooden shed that holds wheelbarrows, hoes and other basic tools is the beacon of the Student Organic Farm, a two-acre swath within the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Farm. On a warm spring evening, a half-dozen students gather here, put on work gloves and begin pulling up weeds from the perennial beds where chives, strawberries, rhubarb and sage are in various stages of growth.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

After several boom years while the rest of the economy struggled, farming is entering its third straight year on the bust side of the cycle. Corn, soybean and other commodity prices are low while expenses like seed, fertilizer and land remain stubbornly high.

So farmers managing the sophisticated businesses that Midwest crop farms have become are spending more time considering business school basics.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Monarch butterflies are disappearing. Scientists agree that in the last 20 years, populations of the black and orange insect have been in precipitous decline. But there's much less certainty on what’s causing them to vanish.

As each new scientific paper on monarch decline is published, the image becomes slightly less opaque. So far, potential culprits include disease, climate change, drought, deforestation, and nectar plants. Blame has been cast on everyone from loggers to farmers to suburban developers.

Ariana Brocious for Harvest Public Media

  Every spring farmers and ranchers intentionally burn their fields to jumpstart the natural process of renewal. But those fires can be dangerous. That’s why researchers in Nebraska are designing a new drone to start fires, which may help protect people and the environment.

On a warm spring morning, a big burn crew dressed in yellow and green flame-resistant clothing gets ready to set 26 acres of tallgrass prairie on fire at Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Neb.

Andy Marso for Harvest Public Media

Most school districts have moved to comply with stricter nutrition standards since the U.S. Department of Agriculture imposed them almost four years ago.

But many still lack kitchen equipment necessary to make the healthier school breakfasts and lunches appealing.

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