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New Kansas Farm Hopes To Cultivate A Future For Veterans

May 5, 2017
The S.A.V.E. farm offers veterans training in beekeeping.
KCPT / For Harvest Public Media

Off a narrow dirt road in the middle of Kansas, retired Army Col. Gary LaGrange, his daughter Shari LaGrange-Aulich and a group of veterans are cultivating a future for service members and American agriculture.

Three-hundred–and-twenty acres nestled between Manhattan, Kansas, and Fort Riley will be the future site of S.A.V.E. Farm, which stands for Service member Agricultural Vocation Education.

Then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, right, greets u.S. Rep. Jack Kingston at a 2008 political event.
Courtesy Bruce Tuten / Flickr

Three months into his term, President Donald Trump now has in place his Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Here’s what you need to know:

Perdue served two terms as governor of Georgia

Free trade agreements like NAFTA have generally eased restrictions on Corn Belt farmers selling their corn and soybeans to markets all over the world.
File: NET Nebraska

The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, has been very good to many Midwest agriculture producers. That’s why many farmers and ranchers are nervous about President Donald Trump’s promise to either completely dismantle, or at least renegotiate, the free-trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Student research technicians Brandon Stewart and Rob Fenton test samples as part of a study on E. coli.
Jack Williams / For Harvest Public Media

When the dangerous organism known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli gets into the food system, it can be deadly. 

That’s why more than 50 researchers at 18 different institutions are hoping to find ways to identify and wipe-out the strain in beef, as part of a major USDA-sponsored study. The $25 million project began in 2012 and was recently extended for at least another year.

What’s old is new again, at least on some Midwest farms.

Winter cover crops have been used by farmers for centuries, but over the last decade or so they have once again started to become more popular.

The idea is to create biomass in fields that would typically be dormant over the winter. Cover crops like vetch, rye, kale and winter peas can grow after a corn harvest, maintaining live roots in the ground on farm fields in an effort to control erosion, preserve moisture in the soil, and to keep damaging chemicals on fields and out of streams.

Midwest Farmers Prepare For Another Year In The Red

Jan 23, 2017

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they’ll be struggling just to break even.

“Prices are low, bins are full, and the dollar is strengthening as we speak and that’s just making the export thing a little more challenging,” says Paul Burgener of Platte Valley Bank in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Jesse Howe / Harvest Public Media

Drones are not just a hot gift item or a weapon for use by the military. They’re also helping farmers change the landscape of agriculture. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts that 80 percent of drones in the commercial sector will be used for agriculture, according to ​USA Today​.

WATCH: Down Times Have Farmers Looking To Cut Costs

Jan 4, 2017

The federal government expected net farm income and farm profits to fall in 2016, the third-straight year of declines. That means farmers and ranchers are taking a closer look at their finances, and many aren’t very optimistic about their prospects for 2017.

Hard Cider: The Midwest’s New Alcoholic Specialty

Nov 29, 2016
Jack Williams / Harvest Public Media

The Midwest is known for a lot of things, but hard apple cider isn’t one of them. At least not yet.

Popular hard cider brands like Angry Orchard and Woodchuck are made on the East Coast. Other well-known brands like Strongbow are made in Europe. Nebraska, however, is now home to a small cider-making scene.

Because hard cider production is similar to winemaking, some vineyards in Nebraska have started adding the venerable beverage to their product list, using capacity that would otherwise be unused to make thousands of gallons of the alcoholic drink.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

When farmers put nitrogen fertilizer on their fields it soaks down into the soil and turns into nitrates that feed crops. But when there are too many nitrates, water from rain or irrigation carries those extra nutrients past the point where roots can reach and eventually to the aquifer below.

For the cities and towns that depend on the underground aquifer or surface water for their drinking water, that can be a big problem.

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