Agriculture

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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9:46am

Thu May 2, 2013
Agriculture

Drought Far From Over For Southern Colorado Farmers

Plastic lines rows of recently planted cantaloupe seeds in Rocky Ford.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

While spring snow storms have eased drought conditions in parts of Northern Colorado, in the southern part of the state the dry weather is forcing farmers to make some tough decisions.

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4:29pm

Wed May 1, 2013
The Salt

Who Paid For Last Summer's Drought? You Did

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 5:10 pm

Corn plants dry in a drought-stricken farm field near Fritchton, Ind., last summer.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Say the words "crop insurance" and most people start to yawn. For years, few nonfarmers knew much about these government-subsidized insurance policies, and even fewer found any fault with them. After all, who could criticize a safety net for farmers that saves them from getting wiped out by floods or drought?

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