Agriculture

File Image / KBIA News

According to Missouri Department of Conversation, hunters had a good harvest in the urban firearms deer hunting season, which took place from Oct. 5 - 8.

This year’s urban deer hunt had a harvest of more than 1,100 deer statewide, almost double the figure from last year.

Joel Porath, wildlife regional supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said because the urban season is so short, the harvest is almost exclusively tied to weather.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

When he’s on the road, Del Smith’s home is his blue-and-silver 18-wheeler. The tidy cab has everything that Smith, who is a slight mustachioed man, needs for a long haul: a fridge for his iced tea, a bunk made with a blanket decorated with cowboy boots, a first-aid kit. In his 62 years of life, Smith’s survived near-death experiences riding rodeo, flying helicopters in Vietnam and, most recently, an industrial accident in Texas. He never thought his next brush with death would take place right here in his truck, after buying a cantaloupe in July from a Byron, Ill., farm stand.

Geishaboy500 / FLICKR

Ahead of the holiday season, a Missouri fish farmer and black caviar producer faces challenges distributing and exporting his gourmet product.

The main challenge comes from the neighboring state of Oklahoma where there are no restrictions on wild fish catching. The co-owner of L’Osage Caviar Company, Steve Kahrs, said a state agency in Oklahoma accumulates caviar from all sturgeon fishermen catch and then sells it at a much cheaper price making the industry more difficult for farmers.

katieharbath / Flickr

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which reporters talk to newsmakers and experts about important issues related to food production.

For this edition of Field Notes, Harvest Public Media's Grant Gerlock spoke with Clayton Yeutter, a former agriculture secretary, about the difficulty in getting a farm bill passed.

Kristofor Husted / KBIA

In the parched, rolling hills of western Missouri, you might expect to see a desolate scene after this summer’s drought. But in this field, hip-high native grass sways across the landscape like seaweed in the ocean.

Wayne Vassar is growing these native plants for biofuel.

“They’ve had corn or soy on (this land) in the past,” he said, “and what’s happened was when you have these kinds of slope it erodes pretty rapidly and you lose a lot of your fertility as the top soil goes down the hill.”

Farmland experts call this kind of land “marginal land.” The hills make it difficult for the soil to hold onto the topsoil nutrients. And along the rivers and other flood plains, frequent flooding can deprive plants the oxygen they need to survive. It all adds up to an estimated 116 million acres in the central U.S.

Land like this might only produce a profitable harvest with traditional crops, like corn or soybeans, once or twice every five years. That’s quite a financial risk for farmers. So how can farmers avoid that risk factor and make sure such soils provide a consistent economic return?

Columbia public works officials are removing private sewer lines from local neighborhoods.  

Drought and heat? Some farmers try hydroponics

Oct 4, 2012
Hilary Stohs-Krause / Harvest Public Media

Marv Fritz runs a 24-acre greenhouse in O’Neill, Neb., in the north-central part of the state. The 7-year-old greenhouse produces about 250,000 pounds of tomatoes a week during the height of summer.

Water resources are stretched

Oct 3, 2012
Water drop
File Photo / KBIA

Nebraska irrigates more acres of farmland than any other state in the nation. Kansas is also near the top.

And that Irrigation infrastructure came in handy this summer. A University of Nebraska Lincoln studyfound the drought could shrink corn yields by 40 percent this year in dryland fields in Iowa. But yields for irrigated corn in Nebraska may end up only 8 percent lower than expected.

“We’ve been hearing reports over 200 (bushels/acre). Probably a lot of guys are hoping for 185-200. That’d be very good,” said Gib Kelly, who traveled from the north -central Nebraska town of Page to look at the newest irrigation equipment at the annual Husker Harvest Days farm show in Grand Island, Neb.

But irrigation has its limits. There were times over the hot summer months when Mark Scott’s groundwater wells couldn’t keep up.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

This past weekend, for the first time in 25 years, my dad and I visited our family’s farm in Woodhull, Ill.

By family, I mean extended family. Brothers Doug and Darwin Swanson — my dad’s first cousins — run the farm, which got its start with land bought in 1890 by my great-great grandfather, Swan Swanson, when he moved to Illinois from Sweden.

Drought leads to lower beef prices in Missouri

Sep 28, 2012
Adam Kuban/flickr / http://www.flickr.com/photos/slice/482963344/

The worst drought in decades is set to lower beef prices for the state of Missouri. The rising cost of feed for cows has compelled ranchers to slaughter their herds, rather than pay significantly more for feed. The increase in slaughter of cattle creates more supply, while demand stays relatively the same. President of Missouri Legacy Beef, Mark Manken said it is a difficult time for ranchers.

SerialK/Flickr

This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which reporters talk to newsmakers and experts about important issues related to food production.

For this week’s Field Notes, reporter Justine Greve spoke with Dr. Stephanie Clark, an associate professor of Food Science at Iowa State University about a segment of the dairy industry we’re all familiar with but probably don’t know much about.

You may not know what a “fractionated dairy ingredient” is, but I can almost guarantee you've eaten one.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Back in April, Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock headed to Tekamah, Neb., to see how planting was going for farmers on the Missouri River floodplain. The river's surging waters put thousands of farm acres in Nebraska under water last summer, causing more than $100 million in crop losses in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

Stacey Shintani / Flickr

Missouri has received more than $1.2 million in federal grants for its food safety efforts.

Help us map the drought

Sep 26, 2012

The skies have been cloudy this week but a little rain can't erase the effects of this last summer's drought, widely considered to be the worst in decades. Like most things, some fare better than others and some even worse. Help us map the drought What does your farm and rangeland look like? How has your year been? Are you going to survive the drought? Send us some details and a picture by clicking below.

National Pork Month is on the horizon

Sep 25, 2012

October is National Pork Month, but Missouri has already begun its celebrations.

From pastime to passion

Sep 25, 2012
Hilary Stohs-Krause / Harvest Public Media

Aaron Troester’s life both did, and didn’t, turn out exactly the way he planned.

Crop, livestock price increases drive up rent costs

Sep 25, 2012
Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

It cost more to rent an acre of cropland or pasture land in 2012, according to new figures from the USDA.

The average cost to rent an acre of cropland in Missouri went up by 4 percent. Pastureland increased by 10 percent.

Ron Plain is an agricultural economics professor at the University of Missouri. He says rental rates and a land’s market value are both tied to the value of what is being produced on that land.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Many people who haven’t stepped foot on a dairy might think milking a cow is a sort of Emersonian back-to-the land moment, where a milker bonds with his or her cow while communing with nature. Just milk her for a while and voilà: fresh, creamy milk. But the truth is, milking can be a very dirty job.

Low feed means more hogs sent to market

Sep 19, 2012
USGS / Wikimedia Commons

The gravel road leading to Harrison Creek Farms is sandwiched between one field of withering corn, and one field of stunted soybeans. The drought has hurt farmers like Kenny Brinker who owns Brinker Farms and Harrison Creek Farms in Auxvasse, Mo.

“The hog farm we have here in Callaway County is what you call your standard feral to finish operation," he says. "We own the hogs ourselves."

Pumping gas
File Photo / KBIA

Head to your local filling station and you might see a new blend of gas at the pump. After a three-year regulatory process, the Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 – gas made with 15 percent ethanol – this summer.

Most gas we pump is already blended with ethanol, sometimes it contains as much as 10 percent, but the ethanol industry fought hard to bring E15 to the market. For ethanol backers and the farmers who feed the ethanol industry, getting drivers to pump gas with 50 percent more ethanol is a big win.

Are you afraid of melons? [Results]

Sep 19, 2012
Melons
Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Last week we asked you two simple questions: are you avoiding cantaloupes or melons?

Sandhya Dirks / Iowa Public Radio

The presidential candidates have yet to meet in a face-to-face debate. But last week in Des Moines, Iowa, ag leaders witnessed a preview of sorts during a Presidential Forum on Agriculture held in advance of the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Red fire ants could be hitching a ride to Missouri

Sep 17, 2012
Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

Missouri livestock producers are looking beyond the Show Me State’s borders for hay, and many are buying it from southern states where red imported fire ants are prevalent.

The stinging insects are known to hitch rides on hay bales, and that makes some agriculture officials nervous.

Red imported fire ants are originally from South America, but are now found throughout the south.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Field Notes is a regular feature by Harvest Public Media, in which reporters talk to newsmakers and experts about important issues related to food production.

Tell us: are you afraid of melons?

Sep 14, 2012
Melons
Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

An Indiana farm issued a voluntary recall of cantaloupe and watermelons because the fruit could be contaminated with Salmonella. Let us know: is this affecting your eating and buying habits?

Click here to take survey

Map by Abbie Fentress Swanson (Harvest Public Media). Data submitted by farmers and livestock producers through the Public Insight Network.

Parts of the Midwest got a reprieve from the drought this week, according to the latest US Drought Monitor report released on Thursday. The report found that last weekend’s cold front brought up to five inches of rain to southeastern Missouri, eastern Illinois and central Indiana.

Drought-resistant corn faces real-life test

Sep 12, 2012
cornfield
Peter Blanchard / Flickr

The sub-par corn harvest of 2012 is coming in early, after the worst growing conditions in more than 2 decades.

“We’ve been really dry all summer," farmer Bill Simmons says. "I talked to an older gentleman some time ago that said he had taken  47 crops off of his farm and this was about the worst that he’d ever seen it."

Simmons is combining 13-hundred acres of corn on the Clan Farm outside Atlantic, Iowa. Multiple varieties were planted, but one field turned out to be especially interesting: a 300-acre section devoted to AQUAmax, a new drought-resistant product from DuPont Pioneer.

Food stamps dividing support for farm bill

Sep 11, 2012
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

With Congress going back into session, farm groups are demanding action on a new farm bill. The current law expires at the end of September. But an issue that goes beyond the farm is edging in on the debate.

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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is extending his declaration of a state of emergency until mid-November because of drought, heat and the risk of fire.

MaryLouiseEklund/flickr

Heavy rains from Hurricane Isaac provided relief to some – but not all – farmers and ranchers in the drought-stricken Midwest, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly report, which came out on Thursday.

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