Barns like this one often house more than a thousand pregnant sows in gestation crates.
Credit Sarah McCammon / Harvest Public Media
Cargill, one of the country’s largest pork producers, announced Monday that it will stop using gestation crates, the controversial narrow cages meant to house and separate sows. Cargill is joining other major meatpackers, like competitors Tyson and Smithfield Foods, in planning to move away from hog crates.
Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa are all working on a project to plant, study and harvest miscanthus for biofuel.
Credit Rick Fredericksen / Harvest Public Media
Miscanthus, a relative of sugar cane that looks like bamboo, could be the Midwest’s next energy crop. But in a region dominated by corn and soybeans, it has yet to fully catch on, even as advocates tout its advantages.
Farmer Nathan Anderson wears beekeeping gear to protect himself when he opens or closes the pollen traps on bee hives on his farm. He has allowed researchers to place three pairs of hives on his fields.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media
Nathan Anderson stops his red pick-up truck alongside a cornfield on his farm near Cherokee, Iowa. The young farmer pulls on a heavy brown hoodie, thick, long, sturdy gloves and a beekeeper’s hat with a screened veil. He approaches a pair of hives sitting on the edge of a field recently planted with corn and adjusts a yellow plastic flap that traps some of the pollen the bees bring back to their hive.
Canada legalized hemp in 1998 and many companies there are anxiously awaiting cultivation in the U.S. At Centennial Seeds in Colorado, growers have started planting.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media
The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.