Farm bill pays high dividends for people and the environment

By Amanda D. Rodewald – The Hill – August 10, 2017
The Agriculture Adjustment Act, also known as the farm bill, provides crop payments, insurance subsidies and loans to many American farmers. However, fewer recognize that the bill has a much wider scope that includes forestry, energy and conservation programs. A new report called, The State of the Birds 2017: A Farm Bill Special Report,  highlighted how this strategic federal investment not only supports the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners, but also protects critical ecosystem services and biodiversity. For full blog post, click here.

New farm partnerships cropping up to spread nutrient-removal wetlands

The Wetlands Initiative – August 3, 2017
With this summer’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” officially declared its largest ever, solutions to nutrient runoff are urgently needed in the Midwest. The Wetlands Initiative has been advancing the use of one such solution in the form of small constructed wetlands on farms designed to naturally remove the excess nutrients leaving through tile drainage. The first two farm-based wetlands have been built on properties in Bureau County, Illinois, and TWI is building new partnerships to get the word out on these wetlands’ ability to improve water quality. A new initiative taking root at Illinois Central College in East Peoria is one example. The Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership (ISAP)—a collaborative that includes the Illinois Corn Growers Association, American Farmland Trust, the Soil Health Partnership, and others—is expanding a demonstration farm on the ICC campus to spotlight a range of on-farm conservation practices, including constructed wetlands. TWI is designing a wetland for the site and is in the process of joining the broader partnership. For full story, click here.

U.S. Farmers Favor Little Change in Farm Programs

By Terri Queck-Matzie – Agriculture – July 31, 2017
Don’t screw up what we already have. That’s the word from the agricultural field to elected representatives in Washington concerning farm bill talks and budget proposals. On no subject does that advice apply more than on the issue of crop insurance. President Trump’s proposed budget calls for $29 billion in cuts to the federal crop insurance program over the next 10 years, crippling the safety net many crop producers credit with keeping them in business through tough seasons. For full story, click here.

Farmers consider floodplain easements, wetland reserves for flooded ground

By Rachael Krause – WPSD Local 6 – July 11, 2017 – Video
It’s been months since floodwaters started rising this year on the Mississippi River, but in some parts of Alexander County, Illinois, the sand and some of the water never left. It’s leaving people who live and work in the area with few options. With the Natural Resources Conservation Service and state conservation leaders talking about options for farmers and landowners to convert their lands to wetlands or floodplain easements, farmers and others are considering turning over their land to the government. For full story and to view video, click here.

Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Expected to Be Size of New Jersey This Summer; Shrimping Industry May Take Hit

By Eric Chaney – The Weather Channel – June 22, 2017
Every summer in the Gulf of Mexico a dead zone develops, and this year, scientists say, the low-oxygen area caused by excess nutrient pollution and an overgrowth of algae that can kill fish and other marine life will be about the size New Jersey. NOAA officials expect this summer’s dead zone will be the third largest since monitoring began 32 years ago. It'll be roughly 8,185 square miles, compared to the average of 5,309 square miles. “This year’s predicted large size is due mainly to heavy May stream flows, which were about 34 percent above the long-term average and carried higher-than-average nutrient loads,’ the agency said in a press release. “The USGS estimates that 165,000 metric tons of nitrate – about 2,800 train cars of fertilizer – and 22,600 metric tons of phosphorus flowed down the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers into the Gulf of Mexico in May.” For full story, click here

USDA Aims to Work with Landowners to Restore 400,000 Acres of Longleaf Pine Forests on Private Lands 

Contact: Sylvia Rainford – USDA Naturual Resources Conservation Service – June 21, 2017
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today released a two-year 
implementation strategy to help private landowners restore and protect 400,000 acres of longleaf pine forests, a unique but imperiled landscape of the Southeast. Through the strategy, NRCS furthers its ongoing effort to use existing Farm Bill programs and other resources to increase the abundance and improve the health of longleaf pine forests in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. For full news release, click here

Pruitt: EPA won’t ban chlorpyrifos pesticide

Capital Press – March 30, 2017
President Donald Trump’s administration denied a petition by environmental groups that sought to ban a common pesticide used on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops, reversing a push by the Obama administration to revoke all uses of the pesticide on food after a government review concluded it could harm children’s brains. In announcing the decision, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said that by not banning chlorpyrifos he is providing “regulatory certainty” to thousands of American farms that rely on the pesticide. For full story, click here.

Ohio corn, wheat and soybean farmers urge Congress to fully fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Norwalk Reflector – May 25, 2017
The Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) and the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) denounced the elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), as proposed by the 2018 budget released this week by the Trump Administration. Ohio’s corn, soy and wheat farmers have been strong supporters of the initiative. Since 2009 it has provided approximately $300 million annually in water quality improvement efforts and generated more than $2 billion for previously unfunded restoration work over the past eight years. These investments help not only agriculture, but other stakeholders that need support to improve water quality. For full story, click here.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Faces a Shut-Down

By Lisa Held – Civil Eats – May 5, 2017
You may never have heard of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, but if you’re eating sustainable food, the odds are good it has something to do with its work. Named after the iconic conservationist, Aldo Leopold, the Center has been conducting and funding research that helped define today’s working definition of sustainable agriculture for the last 30 years. But the Iowa State University (ISU)-based Center’s reign—covering not only soil and water quality, but also developing regional, rural food systems and increasing profits for farmers—may soon come to an end. For full story, click here.

A better way to predict the environmental impacts of agricultural production

Phys.org – April 21, 2017
Consumer goods companies often rely on life-cycle assessments (LCA) to figure out the potential consequences of how they design products and source ingredients. This kind of assessment, while sophisticated, often lacks detail about how the products affect natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity. A team of researchers from Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, in a partnership called the Natural Capital Project, along with researchers from Unilever's Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, developed a new kind of assessment to integrate these impacts in a more detailed way. They call it Land Use Change Improved Life Cycle Assessment, or LUCI-LCA. It's designed to help researchers or companies more accurately predict impacts of new designs and sourcing. For full story, click here.

Women landowners sought for conservation

By Chris Kick –  Farm and Dairy – April 7, 2017
While the majority of U.S. farms are operated by men, many of those same farms are owned by women who, in turn, lease their farmland to male operators. The trend toward female ownership is difficult to track because most data only records the gender of farm operators, and the amount of farmland that is leased. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, only about 14 percent of farms are operated by women, but the number of farms owned by a woman is presumably much higher. For full story, click here.

On many farms, reducing pesticides probably won’t hurt profit or yields

By Emma Bryce – Anthropocene Magazine – March 31, 2017
The dependence of modern agriculture on pesticides is a growing environmental problem, causing soil and water contamination, threatening wildlife, and severely harming human health. Increasingly, experts are pondering whether we really need to be applying pesticides with such reckless abandon to our crops. A group of researchers now says no: in fact, we could significantly reduce pesticide use and still maintain current productivity on most farms, they assert. For full article, click here.

Large grain stocks revive debate over US land retirement

By Chuck Abbott – Successful Farming – April 3, 2017
Three years ago, Congress voted as part of the 2014 farm law to wind down the CRP to a maximum of 24 million acres, its smallest size since 1988. Enrollment in the long-term land-idling program was down by 30% from its 2007 peak as farmers chased profits in the commodity boom, so the cap was a painless step that incidentally helped lawmakers meet their target for budget savings. Land retirement is on the table again as Congress prepares for the new farm bill. This time, the argument is whether to divert U.S. cropland from production in the face of large grain inventories worldwide. For full story, click here.

Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say

InsideClimate News – March 22, 2017
Over the past decade, farmers in the Great Southern Plains have suffered the worst drought conditions since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. They've battled heat, dust storms and in recent weeks, fires that devoured more than 900,000 acres and killed thousands of cattle. These extreme conditions are being fueled by climate change. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group says they're also being driven by federal crop insurance policy that encourages farmers to continue planting crops on compromised land, year after year. For full story, click here.

U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear S.D. farmer’s wetlands case

By David Ganje – Bismarck Tribune – January 12, 2017
On Monday, Jan. 9, The U. S. Supreme Court denied the Petition of a Miner County South Dakota farm couple who were fighting a USDA wetlands designation. USDA enforces rules in which it declares as “wetlands” farmland that has been converted by a farmer from wetlands to arable working land. When such a federal designation is made the farmer loses his right to participate in USDA programs and benefits. Under USDA maps about two thirds of North Dakota, one half of South Dakota and the western part of Minnesota is covered by prairie potholes and wetlands. For full story, click here

Bee's knees: A new $4m effort aims to stop the death spiral of honeybees

By Alison Moodie The Guardian December 11, 2016
On the 33-acre Prairie Drifter Farm in central Minnesota, farmers Joan and Nick Olson are cultivating more than just organic vegetables. Alongside their seven acres of crops – including tomatoes, cucumbers and onions – they’ve also planted flowering plants, dogwood and elderberry hedgerows to accommodate species of bees and butterflies essential for the health of the crops. The Olsons are not beekeepers, but they are part of a movement to reconnect sustainable farming to a healthy environment. For full story, click here.

NRCS to Expand Targeted Conservation Effort for Wildlife on Agricultural Lands

Contact: Justin Fritscher – USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service – November 29, 2016
From the northern bobwhite to trout and salmon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adding dozens of new target species to its premier wildlife conservation effort that helps agricultural producers make wildlife-friendly improvements on working lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is adding 11 new projects to Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), the agency’s targeted, science-based effort to help producers restore and protect habitat for declining species on farms, ranches and working forests. “Agriculture and wildlife both thrive together through landscape conservation,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller, who toured a Missouri farm that has created young forest habitat to aid bobwhite and many other species. “Working Lands for Wildlife has delivered many unprecedented successes over the years, and we’re proud of our collective past achievements and look forward to continuing our work with America’s producers.” For full news release, click here.

USDA Begins National Project to Quantify Effects of Ag Conservation

KTIC Radio – November 3, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is contacting 16,300 farmers and ranchers now through March to take part in a national survey that will more accurately measure the environmental benefits associated with implementation and installation of conservation practices on agricultural land. The results of the National Resources Inventory Conservation Effects Assessment Project (NRI-CEAP) survey will help further develop the science-based solutions for managing the agricultural landscape to improve environmental quality. For full story, click here.

Which states have most land in CRP?

By David Murray – Great Falls Tribune – November 1, 2016
On Oct. 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released details of the nearly $1.7 billion in Conservation Reserve Program payments made to more than half of a million U.S. property owners in 2016. “We have seen record demand to participate in this important program,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a Oct. 28 news release. “Despite the current enrollment limit of 24 million acres, USDA is committed to continuing our important partnerships with farmers, ranchers, state and local governments and sportsmen to maintain the environmental benefits provided by the Conservation Reserve Program.” For full story, click here.

Farmers Find Cleaning Waterways Can Help The Bottom Line

The Roanoke Star – October 21, 2016
Nestled in the mountains of Luray, Virginia, in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, David Sours’ produce farm is one of many in the Shenandoah and Rappahannock river watersheds to benefit from a grant supporting farm-to-table connections. “Everybody believes local food is an easy thing and take it for granted but it is complicated, especially on the distribution side,” said Dale Gardner, field scientist and value chain facilitator. “People don’t realize how labor intensive it is.” For full story, click here.

Factory Farms Get Bigger, Pollution Grows, but Regulators Don't Even Know Where They Are

By Georgina Gustin – InsideClimate News – October 21, 2016
After Hurricane Matthew churned across North Carolina earlier this month, swollen rivers deluged poultry and swine farms, killing millions of chickens and thousands of hogs and sending potentially toxic animal waste coursing into waterways. It could take weeks or months for North Carolinians to learn the scope of the pollution or where it came from—if they ever do. For full story, click here.

Ag secretary: Bay states lead on conservation

By Amanda Yeager – Capital Gazette – September 9, 2016
The six states in the Chesapeake Bay's watershed lead the United States in conservation practices, the nation's top agriculture official said Friday. Ninety-nine percent of the watershed's cultivated acres have at least one conservation measure in place, a figure U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called "an extraordinary achievement unmatched anywhere in the United States." For full story, click here.

USDA announces changes for largest conservation program

U.S. Department of Agriculture – Farm Forum – September 1, 2016
In response to customer and partner input, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced today a significant update to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage. Beginning with the new enrollment period planned later this year, the updated CSP will leverage redesigned planning and evaluation tools and an expanded array of new enhancements to provide conservation-minded producers with more options to improve conditions on working lands. For full story, click here.

Nothing easy about conservation easements

By Mateusz Perkowski – Capital Press – August 18, 2016
Rancher Roger Ediger has no problem giving up the ability to subdivide his nearly 2,700-acre property near Mount Vernon in Eastern Oregon. Development is the biggest threat to agriculture, wildlife and open space, Ediger believes, which is why he decided to place a conservation easement on the land that will preserve its current condition in perpetuity. “If we don’t look farther than our own lifespan, then we’ll have nothing,” he said. However, Ediger still faces a dilemma. He is reluctant to have an environmentally oriented land trust or similar entity impose conditions on how he operates the ranch in exchange for “holding” the easement. For full story, click here.

Most of the world’s large aquifers at tipping point

By American Farm Bureau Federation – Natural Resource Report – August 12, 2016
To most people in the U.S., water is simply
assumed. Without much thought, they turn on the shower, brush their teeth, make coffee or tea, flush the toilet, and grab a full, cold plastic bottle of name-brand water. Taking a bite of food or slipping on a cotton T-shirt does not inspire thoughts of water, its role in agriculture, or challenges to managing the nation’s water supply. But water is the lifeblood of agriculture, and plays an ever-increasing role in food availability, cost, food security, and national security… and competition for it is increasing as supplies decrease. For full story, click here.

Iowa farmers ripped out prairie; now some hope it can save them

By Darryl Fears – The Washington Post – August 7, 2016
There’s a wild presence in Tim Smith’s corn and soybean field that most farmers kill on sight. Smith made his way toward it, hoisting his long legs over row after row of soybean plants under a baking mid-morning sun. “It’s right over there,” he said. He stopped at the edge of a Midwestern prairie, a thicket of tall flowers and grasses more frightening to farmers than any horror movie madman lurking in a barn with a chain saw. Most growers say prairie is a nuisance that can choke crops. But not Smith. He is proud of the three acres he planted in the middle of one of the most productive farms in the county. He was there to show it off, not spray it. This affection for prairie bucks a farming tradition that dates back to when settlers arrived in the Midwest to farm centuries ago and ripped out wild grasses to tame the earth. Over time, prairie was nearly eradicated. Farmers today are still destroying the little that is left. It is a colossal mistake, according to recent studies by researchers at Iowa State University. Not only does prairie, with its deep-rooted plants, soak up farm wastewater that pollutes rivers, it also enriches soil. For full story, click here.

Report: Maintaining Sagebrush-Covered Landscapes Keeps Water on the Land for Ranchers and Wildlife

By Justin Fritscher – U.S. Department of Agriculture – August 4, 2016
Removing invading conifer trees improves the health of sagebrush ecosystems, providing better habitat for wildlife and better forage for livestock. And now, new science shows these efforts may also help improve late-season water availability, which is crucial for ecosystems in the arid West. According to the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI)’s newest Science to Solutions report – which summarized research from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) – a sagebrush-dominated watershed holds water in snow drifts an average of nine days longer than one dominated by juniper trees. For full blog post, click here.

How can industrial-scale agriculture reduce its environmental footprint?

By Jason Thomson – The Christian Science Monitor –  July 1, 2016 – Video
Rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters of the United States face various threats through human activities, not least of which is the bane of pollution. One of the major sources of contaminants that can upset the natural balance is industrial output, including large-scale agriculture, particularly if the processes and discharge are poorly managed, according to a new report from Environment America. For full story and to view video, click here.

Trading farmland for nitrogen protection

Eurek Alert – August 3, 2016
Excess nitrogen from agricultural runoff can enter surface waters with devastating effects. Algal blooms and fish kills are a just a couple of possible consequences. But riparian buffer zones - areas of grasses, perennials, or trees - between farmlands and streams or rivers can help. "Riparian buffer zones are nature's hydraulic shock absorbers," says Deanna Osmond, a soil scientist at North Carolina State University. They can reduce pollution and provide habitat for wildlife. Trees can hold stream banks together and provide food for animals. These buffer zones can also dampen the flow of agricultural runoff. This can lead to lower amounts of nitrogen reaching streams and rivers. But what kind of vegetation makes buffer zones most efficient at removing nitrogen from runoff? That is the question that Osmond and her colleagues set out to answer. For full story, click here.

The Nature Conservancy and The Fertilizer Institute join forces

By The Fertilizer Institute – AG Professional – June 16, 2016
The Nature Conservancy and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) announced a new partnership in support of farm practices that result in clean water. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at ensuring American agriculture has access to tools to use fertilizer with maximum environmental and economic efficiency. For full story, click here.

The Gulf of Mexico Is About to Experience a "Dead Zone" the Size of Connecticut

By Tom Philpott – Mother Jones – June 17, 2016
The Gulf of Mexico teems with biodiversity and contains some of the globe's most productive fisheries. Yet starting in the early 1970s, large swaths of the Gulf began to experience annual dead zones in the late summer and early fall. This year's will likely be nearly a third larger than normal, about the size of Connecticut, according to a recent report from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University. The problem is tied to industrial-scale meat production. To churn out huge amounts chicken, beef, and pork, the meat industry relies on corn as cheap feed. The US grows about a third of the globe's corn, the great bulk of it in the Midwest, on land that drains into the Mississippi River. Every year, fertilizer runoff from Midwestern farms leaches into the Mississippi and makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. For full story, click here.

Better water quality? Here's what 5 states are doing

The Des Moines Register – May 21, 2016 – Video
Like Iowa, Minnesota and other large farm states are searching for solutions on how to reduce the loss of nutrients that are crucial to growing crops but also threaten drinking water and feed toxic algal blooms. "There are several experiments going on, but I don’t think any state necessarily has it figured it out," said Larry Clemens, director of The Nature Conservancy's North America agricultural program. For full story and to view video, click here.

How to make rain – by splashing water

Kate Ravilious – The Guardian – May 22, 2016
Need to make it rain? Try asking farmers to turn their water sprinklers on. New findings suggest that the act of water splashing on to ploughed fields throws up millions of microscopic particles – the remains of dead plants and animals. And it turns out that this special dust often helps to seed clouds and generate localised rainstorms. For full story, click here.

Owyhee County Ranchers Create Wetlands for Wildlife, Livestock

By Steve Stuebner – Life on the Ranch – Video
In the arid West, water is key to the survival of everything. That's why early-day pioneers staked out the riverbottoms when they settled the West. It was all about water. In recent years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been partnering with ranchers in Owyhee County to create more ponds and wetlands on private lands. For full story, photo album, and to view video, go here.

NRCS to Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts on Water Quality

Contact: Ciji Taylor – USDA Natural Resources Conservations Service – April 26, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as it leaves their fields, providing data to evaluate the success of various conservation efforts. The funding is available to farmers located across key watersheds in nine states and is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to measure the effectiveness of a wide range of conservation initiatives. For full news release, click here.

Conservation needn't cut agriculture profits 

By Jon Cartwright – Environmental Research Web – April 14, 2016
Scientists in the US have put forward an economic argument for diversifying cropland and improving agricultural ecology. The argument, made by Elke Brandes at Iowa State University and colleagues, draws on publicly available data on agriculture to show that conservation techniques can be driven by market forces. For full story, click here.

USDA says voluntary water quality efforts are working

By Chris Kick – Farm and Dairy – March 29, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced new funding for water quality efforts in the Western Lake Erie Basin, and released a study that says voluntary practices are making a difference, during a March 28 press conference at Maumee Bay State Park. USDA will invest $41 million in a three-year initiative to support the ongoing work of farmers in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. The initiative helps farmers implement conservation measures to reduce runoff. For full story, click here.

Lake Erie phosphorus-reduction targets challenging but achievable

Phys.org – March 22, 2016
Large-scale changes to agricultural practices will be required to meet the goal of reducing levels of algae-promoting phosphorus in Lake Erie by 40 percent, a new University of Michigan-led, multi-institution computer modeling study concludes. For full story, click here.

Regenerating degraded dirt

By Britt E. Erickson – Chemical & Engineering News – March 7, 2016
It’s hard to find a bare spot on the more than 800 acres farmed by Cory Atkins of Seaford, Del. Even in the dead of winter, a carpet of ankle-high ryegrass blankets the soil where he plans to grow soybeans in the spring. In other fields, wheat and barley sown last fall poke through the dirt next to remnants of sunflowers, clover, and radishes.“These cover crops hold the dirt in place and put nutrients back in the ground,” Atkins says. They also increase soil organic matter—the dark material, called humus, in the top layer of dirt. That layer contains cellulose, starch, lignin, and other molecules from the decomposition of plants and animal residues, plus a slew of biochemicals produced by earthworms and other organisms that live in soil. For full story, click here.

USDA invests $25 million in watersheds to improve water quality

By USDA – AGProfessional – February 29, 2016
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an investment of $25 million targeted to help agriculture producers improve water quality in high-priority streams and rivers across the country. Through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help agricultural producers in 187 priority watersheds apply conservation measures that contribute to cleaner water downstream. For full story, click here.

Conservation study: Millions spent, but no lasting gains

By Donnelle Eller – The Des Moines Register – February 8, 2016
A study of eight high-priority watersheds in Iowa found little increase in acres devoted to two key farm conservation practices over a three-year period, indicating taxpayers are getting minimal additional environmental benefits despite millions of dollars spent. The Environmental Working Group's report, being released Sunday, comes as Iowa lawmakers are expected to weigh proposals this year that would ramp up financing for farm conservation practices to help clean the state's rivers, lakes and streams — including a $4.7 billion plan from Gov. Terry Branstad. For full story, click here.

Nutrient field studies starting to show results

By Chris Kick – Farm and Dairy – February 1, 2016
Scientists are actively pursuing answers to how nutrients are moving and leaving farmers’ fields in the western Lake Erie basin, and the results could be a little surprising. Mark Williams, a Columbus-based soil drainage researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gave Ohio Farmers Union members an update on research regarding tile drainage and surface runoff. He said phosphorus loss through tiles was considered negligible in the 1980s, because the focus at the time was on nitrogen drainage. But now that phosphorus is showing up in the water, researchers are trying to figure out why, to help combat the growth of toxic algal blooms. For full story, click here

Rural pollution is becoming an urban issue

By Rona Kobell – Bay Journal – January 04, 2016
Arkansas poultry farmer Jeff Marley grows 240,000 birds a year on his farm outside Fayetteville. But it’s because of city dwellers in Tulsa, OK, that he rarely spreads manure on his pastureland. Marley sells most of the 1,500 tons of manure his birds generate via a litter bank. He doesn’t store it on his property even for a few days, he said. As soon as the hauler shows up and loads his truck, the manure is gone. Nearly 15 years after the Tulsa Metropolitan Water Authority sued six poultry companies and one small Arkansas city for contaminating Tulsa’s water supply with phosphorus from manure, most of the waste never touches the land in the watershed that feeds Tulsa’s lakes. Instead, it goes to Kansas, Missouri and other areas not near the watershed, called the Eucha-Spavinaw for its two lakes. Marley’s farm is in a neighboring watershed, but he still has the manure hauled out. Why spread it at home when it’s so valuable elsewhere? For full article, click here.

Water Runoff From Farming Will Be Major Issue In 2016

By Dr. Mike Rosmann – Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan – January 5, 2016
Increasingly, complaints are being lodged about runoff and discharged water from U.S. farms and other sources, such as industries and metropolitan areas, by downstream users of the water who raise concerns about its safety to drink, as well as the costs to treat contaminated water to make it drinkable. Last week’s Farm and Ranch Life column provided information about the availability of water worldwide for agriculture and other uses.  Underground aquifers have almost been used up in some countries and are dwindling slower--but declining nevertheless--in key agricultural-producing regions of the U.S., chiefly the seven western-most states and the Ogalalla Aquifer which underlies parts of seven High Plains states. For full story, click here.