Agriculture

Connecting the Drops
11:17 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Farming the Ogallala

A center pivot irrigation system near Wray, CO
Credit Shelley Schlender

Most Colorado cities and farms get water from snowmelt in the Rockies. That’s not the case in Northeastern Colorado. This food-producing powerhouse depends on an ancient, underground reservoir called the Ogallala.

Ever since the Ice Ages, the Ogallala’s been slowly accumulating water. Modern farmers, though, pump so much water that this “timeless” aquifer is starting to run out. Someday up ahead, Northeast Colorado may have to curtail some crops, and some farm towns might become ghost towns.
 

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Elections
7:51 am
Thu October 2, 2014

No Matter How Colorado Votes, GMO Labeling Debate Far From Finished

"I'm a label reader," says Denver resident Ben Hamilton. He sat on a citizen panel tasked with writing a report on proposition 105, which would require the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.
Luke Runyon KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 11:41 am

Voters in Colorado will decide whether or not they want the state to require labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The 2014 ballot measure highlights a much larger national conversation about the safety and prevalence of genetically modified foods.

If passed, food companies and farmers would need to affix on a food label the text: "Produced with genetic engineering" if the product contains certain genetically modified crops and their derived oils and sugars that end up in processed foods. Those in favor of the proposal, Proposition 105, claim consumers have a right to the information. Those opposed say it amounts to a fear campaign.

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Agriculture
12:23 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Organic Certification Reimbursement Deadline Approaches

Credit Clipart

Farmers looking for help in paying for organic certifications have just a few weeks left to take advantage of a reimbursement program. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports. 
 

The program is part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2013, which was put into place by the USDA. It aims to assist farmers seeking organic certification by reimbursing up to 75% or $750.00 of the process per category, including crops and livestock.

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Capitol Coverage
10:25 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

With More Tech On The Farm, Rural Colorado Left Waiting, Wanting For Broadband

Yuma County is one of the largest agricultural producing counties in the state. Farmers here are starting to embrace precision agriculture, to use the latest technology to monitor information on the farm such as planting, yield, water and nutrients.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 6:54 am

People living in many parts of rural Colorado still don’t have access to high speed Internet. It’s a problem for schools and businesses, and in eastern Colorado it is making it harder for farmers to take full advantage of the latest technology even as state lawmakers passed legislation to try and even the playing field.

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Drought
11:01 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Parts Of Southeast Colorado Drier Than The Dust Bowl

Entrance to the town of Rocky Ford, which is experiencing a longer dry period longer than it did during the Dust Bowl.
Luke Runyon KUNC

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 11:41 am

Parts of Southeast Colorado are experiencing a longer period of drought than the dry times that occurred during the Dust Bowl.

According to Nolan Doesken, the state climatologist, the past three years and eight months have been the driest stretch ever recorded for some parts of the state, including Rocky Ford, La Junta and Ordway.

"It was drier than the worst consecutive drought period of the 30s and of the 50s," said Doesken.

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Agriculture
5:08 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Sunflower Growers Consider Higher Assessment Fees

Credit CSU Extension

Colorado's climate puts it among the top 10 states for sunflower production, but many of the state's farmers have cut back on planting sunflowers. Last year Colorado’s sunflower production dropped to a fraction of its high in 1999. Now, growers are considering how much they're willing to pay to help reverse the trend. Shanna Lewis reports farmers are voting on whether to double the fee on sunflowers.

 

Sunflower growers currently pay three-cents per hundred weight to support marketing and research on their crop. 

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Harvest Public Media
10:06 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

While Farm Life Changes, FFA’s Blue Jacket Stays The Same

The blue corduroy jackets sported by high schoolers in FFA have been a part of the group's brand since its founding in 1928.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The blue corduroy jacket worn by high school students in FFA, formerly the Future Farmers of America, is an icon of rural life. To the average city dweller the jacket is a vestige of dwindling, isolated farm culture, as fewer and fewer young people grow up on farms. The numbers tell a different story however. In spite of that demographic shift, a record number of kids are donning blue jackets this year.
 

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Agriculture
8:06 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Urban Agriculture in the Pikes Peak Climate

Lettuce starts and mature leafy greens flourish in the grow beds of Christine Faith's aquaponics system. Koi live in the tank under the beds.
Michelle Mercer KRCC

The backyard farming movement continues to grow in Colorado Springs, but exactly what kind of farming makes sense in our challenging climate is a complicated business. The harsh, high altitude sun, thin topsoil, short growing season, and especially, the limited water supply present obstacles for even the most dedicated urban homesteaders.
 

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Agriculture
7:33 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Climate Change Could Benefit Some Invasive Plants

Ellen Nelson has battled invasive plants that out-compete native grasses on her grass-fed beef ranch near Bellvue, Colo. Some climate studies suggest that fight will worsen in the coming decades.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now: It will likely be warmer and the air will be richer with carbon dioxide. Though scientists don’t yet know how exactly the climate will change, new studies show it could be a boon to some invasive plant species.
 

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Local News
12:39 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Colorado Gains USDA Climate Change Research Hub

Credit Clipart

The U.S Department of Agriculture is setting up seven new research hubs across the country to help farmers adapt to climate change. And as KUNC’s Luke Runyon reports, one will be in northern Colorado.
 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says in the past few years farmers across the Midwest have grappled with epic drought, mega-blizzards and crippling heat.

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Local News
5:08 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Cantaloupe Farmers Sentenced to Probation

Credit Clipart

Cantaloupe farmers in eastern Colorado responsible for a deadly outbreak of listeria two years ago were sentenced today after pleading guilty to six misdemeanor charges in October. KRCC’s Nat Stein has more.
 

A federal magistrate in Denver sentenced brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen to five years of probation, starting with six months of home detention. Each brother also must pay $150,000 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

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Local News
7:26 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Cantaloupe Farmers Seek Probation

Credit Clipart

Two Colorado cantaloupe farmers are asking a federal judge for probation rather than jail time.  Two years ago, a deadly listeria outbreak was traced back to cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms in southeastern Colorado. Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen own the farm and in October pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. These federal charges can carry penalties of up to six years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

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Harvest Public Media
12:47 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Developers Look to Farms to Sell Suburban Homes

The Bucking Horse subdivision in Fort Collins, Colo., will include a working CSA farm, complete with historic barn, farm house and chicken coop.
Luke Runyon KUNC and Harvest Public Media

For decades, housing developments in the suburbs have come complete with golf courses, tennis courts, strip malls and swimming pools. But make way for the new subdivision amenity: the specialty farm.

A new model for suburban development is springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement. Farms, complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees, are serving as a way to entice potential buyers to settle in a new subdivision.

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Connecting the Drops
7:11 am
Mon December 9, 2013

The Shoshone Power Plant: "A Big Dog on the River"

The Shoshone hydroelectric powerplant holds the largest historic water right on the Colorado River.
Maeve Conran

A complex series of agreements govern the distribution of water throughout the state.  Along the Colorado River, farms, cities & towns, and the recreation industry are all big players.  But everyone takes a backseat to a tiny hydroelectric plant that’s over one hundred years old.  It’s the Shoshone Generating Station, and it plays a critical role on the Upper Colorado.

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Harvest Public Media
7:33 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Prison Dairy Serves Up Buffalo Milk

The Four Mile Correctional Center in Cañon City, Colo ., is home to what may well be the country’s largest water buffalo dairy.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Past the razor-wire fences, beyond huge metal gates, behind thick walls, you’ll find one of the most unique dairies in the country. The Four Mile Correctional Center in Cañon City, Colo., is home to what could very well be the country’s largest herd of domesticated water buffalo – buffalo milked for their rich, frothy milk.

At the Four Mile dairy, inmates run the milking parlor, not a farmer in overalls. And it’s not black and white cows dotting the landscape, instead it’s water buffalo with big, curved horns.

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Connecting the Drops
7:33 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Buy & Dry: Selling Agricultural Water to Growing Cities

Carver Ranch in Mesa County was bought in the 1970s by Ute Water District for its water rights.
Maeve Conran

Water has always been a source of conflict in the arid West, but in recent years the conflict between agriculture and growing cities has escalated as both entities compete for this limited resource. KGNU’s Maeve Conran has this story as part of our year long series Connecting the Drops.

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Local News
9:37 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Sights and Sounds of the Colorado State Fair

Vegetables are prepped for judging at the Colorado State Fair.
Credit Shanna Lewis

The Colorado State Fair is well underway in Pueblo.  KRCC's Andrea Chalfin went down to catch some of the judging, from produce to rabbits and Pet Rock Olympics. But of course, the State Fair also has rides and games.  Here’s an audio postcard of some of the sights and sounds of the Colorado State Fair.

The Colorado State Fair runs through September 2nd, in Pueblo.

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Local News
8:35 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Goats: The New Wave of Urban Agriculture?

Monycka Snowbird's urban goats
Liz Ruskin

With interest in urban homesteading on the rise, some traditional farm animals are showing up in city back yards. It started with chickens.   Miniature goats might be next. While some worry about potential health effects, KRCC's Liz Ruskin went to one backyard east of downtown Colorado Springs to meet a woman who isn’t concerned.
 

Monycka Snowbird lives in a densely packed neighborhood of 1960s-era ranch and split-level homes, some with tidy yards, some overrun by weeds.

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RMCR News
4:49 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

The 'Fort Knox' of Seeds: How Safe is It?

Wheat/Clipart.

When genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn’t take long for accusations to start flying. No one knew how the unapproved wheat ended up in the ground. A flurry of finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Colorado, which housed the same strain of wheat. The facility's been cleared of wrongdoing since then, but the investigation brings up questions of how secure these seed vaults actually are. KUNC and Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon took a tour of the Colorado vault, and has this report.

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Connecting the Drops
7:33 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Shrinking Aquifers in the San Luis Valley

A conveyor belt transports potatoes from Shriver's storage shed to a bagging operation. This load of potatoes is headed for North Carolina.
Maeve Conran

In early July, Colorado designated 14 counties "primary natural disaster areas" due to agricultural losses caused by the recent and ongoing drought.  Several of those counties are in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado.  Farmers there are now eligible for low interest emergency loans, but as KGNU’s Maeve Conran reports, that may not be enough for this agricultural hub, which is facing a long term water crisis that could permanently affect the entire valley. 

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Harvest Public Media
7:35 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Young Farmers and the Obstacles They Face

Eva Teague, 31, is trying to start her own pig farm but is having trouble breaking in to the business. (Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

 

The American farmer is getting older. Most recent census data shows the average age is 57. And while that tells us who is farming now, it also shows who’s not. While the farming community continues to age, fewer young people are filling the ranks. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon asks the question: Do young people even want to farm anymore?

The quick answer is yes, just not in the same numbers as they used to. And surveys indicate many of them don’t want to farm in conventional ways.

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