Agriculture

3:11pm

Thu May 9, 2013
The Salt

Big Ag Agrees to Conserve Cropland, But At What Cost?

Peanut plants grow on a Halifax, N.C., farm that received federal subsidies in 2011.
Robert Willett MCT /Landov

Taxpayers help subsidize crop insurance premiums for farmers to the tune of about $9 billion dollars, a figure that's growing each year. These policies protect farmers from major losses, and help support their income even if there's no loss of crops.

And in return? Well, environmentalists argue that farmers who receive this financial support should be required to be good stewards of the land.

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5:17pm

Tue May 7, 2013
Agriculture

Repairing Cantaloupe's Image After Deadly Outbreaks

Roadside produce markets like this one will sit quietly until the first cantaloupe is harvested in late July.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Drive into the small southeastern Colorado community of Rocky Ford and it’s clear the very character of the town is tied to cantaloupe.

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4:12pm

Tue May 7, 2013
The Salt

Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 8:56 pm

A bee inspector checks on a frame of bees to assess the colony strength near Turlock, Calif., in February. More than 30 percent of America's bee colonies died off over the winter.
Gosia Wozniacka AP

According to a new survey of America's beekeepers, almost a third of the country's honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.

That's been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.

Over the past six years, on average, 30 percent of all the honeybee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter. The worst year was five years ago. Last year was the best: Just 22 percent of the colonies died.

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3:02pm

Fri May 3, 2013
The Salt

Unraveling The Mystery Of A Rice Revolution

Rice farmers in Indonesia plant rice seedlings using the "system of rice intensification."
Courtesy of SRI International Network and Resources Center

It's a captivating story: A global rice-growing revolution that started with a Jesuit priest in Madagascar, far from any recognized center of agricultural innovation. Every so often, it surfaces in the popular media — most recently in The Guardian, which earlier this year described farmers in one corner of India hauling in gigantic rice harvests without resorting to pesticides or genetic modification.

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1:29pm

Thu May 2, 2013
The Salt

Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable? Maybe, If You Head Inland

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 4:43 pm

These sockeye salmon were raised at a land-based fish farm in Langley, British Columbia.
Courtesy Willowfield Enterprises

Is salmon farming ever sustainable?

For years, many marine biologists have argued that the floating, open-ocean net pens that produce billions of pounds of salmon per year also generate pollution, disease and parasites.

In some places in western Canada, the open-ocean salmon farming industry has been blamed for the collapse of wild salmon populations in the early 2000s — though other research has challenged that claim.

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