- Robot weed killers poised to disrupt US agriculture
In a field of sugar beets in Switzerland, a solar-powered robot that looks like a table on wheels scans the rows of crops with its camera, identifies weeds and zaps them with jets of blue liquid from its mechanical tentacles. Undergoing final tests before the liquid is replaced with weedkiller, the Swiss robot is one of new breed of AI weeders that investors say could disrupt the $100 billion pesticides and seeds industry by reducing the need for universal herbicides and the genetically modified (GM) crops that tolerate them.
- How data produces economic and environmental benefit for America's farms
Farmers understand the need to be good environmental stewards. Clean water and healthy soils are essential to making a living and sustaining families and communities across generations. But while conservation practices can improve the profitability and long-term sustainability of their operations, farmers are sometimes reluctant to adopt them out of concern about increased risk and expense that can accompany change.
- Transformational change is required to meet nutrient-loading reduction goals
The uptick in conservation funding and practices comes from the driving force to improve water quality throughout the Midwest. However, no single practice will meet the nutrient-loading reductions set by the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force, explains Jim Jordahl, director of programs and operations for Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance.
- Tighter controls sought for polluted farm runoff
Indiana farmers have benefited from billions of dollars in agricultural subsidies in recent decades, some of it tied to conservation practices that have grown lax over time, according to a recent report. Those conservation practices were designed to help stop polluted runoff from fields susceptible to erosion. However, the Environmental Working Group says dwindling enforcement of those practices is threatening water supplies in many rural communities with polluted runoff caused by eroding farmlands.
- Less water, same Texas cotton: Study isolates best irrigation patterns to conserve water
Plants need water — but what about when it's running low? Is it possible to use less water and still have healthy crops? In Texas, the Southern High Plains uses water from an aquifer to water cotton fields. However, the aquifer is running low, so it's important to use less and less water. Scientists from the area are working to find the best irrigation method for cotton that uses the least water. They want to do this without loss of cotton yield and profits to struggling growers.
- A hidden world of communication, chemical warfare, beneath the soil
New research shows how some of these harmful microbes have to contend not just with a farmer's chemical attacks, but also with their microscopic neighbors — and themselves turn to chemical warfare to ward off threats.
- Innovative technologies and policies can make agriculture environmentally sustainable
Agriculture faces increasing demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel from a growing population under the looming threat of climate change. Advances in seed technologies, equipment and crop management offer considerable promise for increasing agricultural productivity and meeting these demands. But a key challenge for agriculture is to meet growing demands while protecting our natural resources.
- Long-term study shows crop rotation decreases greenhouse gas emissions
Many farmers grow corn and soybean in rotation to avoid the continuous corn yield penalty, but now there's another reason to rotate. Scientists at the University of Illinois have provided further evidence that rotating crops increases yield and lowers greenhouse gas emissions compared to continuous corn or soybean.
- Sensors allow farmers to make precise decisions
Farmers who are still not comfortable with technology are not alone. Agriculture is one of the last bastions of old-fashioned techniques, its practitioners preferring to grab a clod of dirt to decide when or how much to water their crops, as their ancestors had done. But growers who embrace new technology are saving time, resources and money, which makes them more efficient and competitive.
- Report: Florida cities are most at risk from climate change
The picturesque Florida cities of Miami Beach and Sarasota carry high investment-grade credit ratings and are popular travel destinations. They're also two of the most exposed U.S cities to climate change in the country, according to a new analysis by advisory firm Four Twenty Seven.