Radio Script 7-23-19

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the July 23rd edition of Farm News and Views.

The increasing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is often blamed for a changing climate around the globe. Many scientists believe that combustion of fossil fuels and the decline of forests are factors in the increase of CO2 levels by 100 parts per million since 1950. But farming practices that have resulted in depleted organic material in crop fields are also sited as a factor for this spike in CO2. Soil scientists have recorded from a 20 to 50% reduction of carbon in soils that have been tilled for decades versus soils that have been undisturbed. Additional carbon is lost when wind and water erosion carry soils particles off of fields. So soil scientists have concluded that carbon sequestration in farm fields and grazing lands can reduce and even reverse the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Recently, several companies are ramping up to encourage farmers and ranchers to participate in practices that will result in increasing soil organic matter in their fields, using a marketplace developed around CO2 mitigation that enables CO2-emitting industries to purchase carbon credits from businesses engaged in offsetting activities. For example, Boston-based Indigo Agriculture recently unveiled its latest project, the  Terraton Initiative, which intends to sequester 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by providing momentary incentives to farmers and ranchers who adopt regenerative agriculture practices. The company contends that if farmers increase the level of carbon in their soils by an average of 0.5% globally, it could reverse the 1-trillion-ton increase in atmospheric carbon since the Industrial Revolution. Some of the practices that Indigo encourages farmers to adopt include no-till crop production, crop rotation, reducing reliance on chemical and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and incorporating livestock. The Western Sustainability Exchange is another organization that’s attempting to enroll Montana ranchers in a program that will pay them to use a carefully managed, rotational grazing program that will qualify for the carbon credit market. Rotational grazing calls for moving livestock based on utilization of forage over a short period of time by intensive grazing, then moving the herd to a new section of range or pasture that has not been grazed until it has full recovered from previous grazing passes. read more

Radio Script 7-16-19

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg with the July 16th edition of Farm News & Views.

Farmers in the mid section of our country continue to be affected by too much water this growing season. Although soils have started to dry out in some fields in the Corn Belt they may soon be getting a lot wetter, since Tropical Depression Barry is following the Mississippi River Valley northward, dropping precipitation on fields that have received way too much rain already. Before it dies out, it’s likely to have affected 12 states, dumping from one to more than three inches of rainfall over the next couple of days according to the National Weather Service. But then, as the storms passes, the areas in Barry’s wake are expected to suffer from a “widespread” heat wave starting later this week. read more

Radio Script 7-9-19

Good morning. Welcome to the July 9th edition of Farm News and Views.

You may have noticed bees being…Well, busy as bees this spring and early summer tending to flowers in gardens, on fruit trees and even on weeds. Bees help to pollinate a third of the crops we eat, including almonds, apples, avocados and grapes, but bee populations have steadily declined since 2006. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) won’t collect quarterly data this July for the annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing budget constraints. This report has allowed the USDA, beekeepers, and other interested parties to compare quarterly losses, additions, and movements and to analyze the data on a state-by-state basis. read more

Radio Script 7-2-19

Field work in a central Illinois corn field.

Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the July 2nd edition of Farm News & Views.

Over the past three months, I’ve talked about problems that farmers in the Midwest have had this spring getting their crops planted. On some farms, growers reported that they were two months late getting corn and soybean seeds into the ground. I was able to see he good the bad and the ugly of crop progress last week, during a road trip making roughly a 400 mile circle around central Illinois and Indiana. Farmers used to say that if the corn was knee high by the fourth of July, they could expect a good crop. Although with modern hybrid corn varieties, corn plants are usually four or five feet tall by this time of the growing season. B observed that in many fields, corn was four to eight inches tall, and soybeans plants had just emerged from the soil. Farmers and farm managers I talked with told me that wet soil this year is only part of the problem with crops being so far behind in growth. Cool temperatures and cloudy days thus far have put a damper on plant growth even for fields that were planted early. Corn plants in many fields are pale yellow, rather than dark green, indicating that wet soils are inhibiting the uptake of nitrogen. Farmers hope that they’ll get plenty of sunshine and warm days to speed up plant growth for the rest of the summer, and hope that frost comes late this fall. While Midwest farmers have faced unprecedented challenges this year, farmers I talked to are still positive about their chances for a good year. read more