Deere to market fully autonomous tractor for farm tillage

The world's largest farm equipment maker, Deere and Co., said on Tuesday it will begin sales later this year of a "fully autonomous tractor that's ready for large-scale production," but limited for the moment to tillage. "The machine combines Deere's 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system, and new advanced technologies," said Deere, which unveiled the autonomous tractor at a consumer technology show in Las Vegas.

With Covid-19 in Alaska, a home-grown food movement underway

Alaska imports more than 90 percent of its food, but with Covid-19 interrupting supply chains, especially to remote regions, people in the state are reacting by starting gardens and advocating for more locally grown food, reports Miranda Weiss in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)

Farmers ‘understand that the climate is changing and we have to adapt’

Discussing climate change can be divisive in farm country, but more and more farmers today are willing to join the conversation. We talk with a corn, soybean, and wheat farmer in Ohio who’s been outspoken about the need to confront the issue.(No paywall)

A close-up look at precision agriculture

In FERN's latest story, Michael Behar takes a close look at precision agriculture — cutting-edge tools like drones,  satellite imagery and artificial intelligence that help farmers keep careful watch over their crops. In addition to improving yields, Behar shows how the technology also allows farmers to reduce water and chemical use. The story was produced in collaboration with EatingWell magazine.(No paywall)

IPCC report warns that climate change threatens food supply

A United Nations climate report on Thursday warned that the world’s unsustainable use of land is boosting greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change, and threatening future food production. But the report also said that land use, farming, and food consumption can shift in important ways that could help mitigate climate change. (No paywall) (No paywall)

House bill mirrors Senate on farm bankruptcy update

The so-called Chapter 12 farm bankruptcy rules would be revised by companion bills in Congress that would triple, to $10 million, the amount of debt that could be reorganized. A House version of the bill is sponsored by six representatives, including House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson. It was filed three weeks after a Senate bill whose sponsors include Finance chairman Chuck Grassley.

Final fruit of USDA suit: A fund for American Indian agriculture

The landmark 1999 Keepseagle class-action lawsuit against the USDA for systemic discrimination in its farm lending programs resulted in tens of millions of dollars in payments directly to Native American farmers and ranchers for mistreatment. One of its most lasting legacies may be the endowment of the Native American Agriculture Fund with $266 million left over from the 2011 settlement of the case, said the lead attorney in the case on Monday.

Vegetable farming gains volume in the Arctic

Whether growers operate indoors or out, vegetable production "seems to be on the rise in the Arctic," says Arctic Now, a news partnership based around the polar north. "Greenhouses and hydroponic systems are beacons of hope for the improvement of food security and health issues, and a diversification of the economy in remote Arctic communities."

Northern California’s marijuana growers see big threat

For more than 40 years, the Emerald Triangle — "a densely forested region of labyrinthine back roads, secret valleys, and perennial creeks in Northern California" — has been a great place to grow a prohibited but highly desired product: marijuana. But this area is now coming under massive pressure with the state's legalization of recreational weed, reports Stett Holbrook in FERN’s latest story, published with GRIST, “The high price of cheap weed.”

After Hurricane Maria, ‘There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico’

Puerto Rico's agriculture secretary, Carlos Flores Ortega, estimates Hurricane Maria wiped out 80 percent of the value of the island's crops in a matter of hours, worth $780 million, says the New York Times. The newspaper quoted a farmer on the southeast coast as saying, "There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there won't be for a year or longer."

Sure, you can eat vegan, but is your farm ‘veganic’?

The owners of Lazy Millennial Farms, near Salinas, Calif., may be the only veganic – vegan and organic – farm in the San Francisco Bay area, growing fresh produce without animal products, reports Civil Eats. “That means no animal fertilizers, fish emulsions, blood or bone meal … that are …

Dust flies as inland Salton Sea dries up in California

Researchers at UC-Riverside say desert winds are picking up dust from the widening beaches created as the Salton Sea shrinks, says public broadcaster KPBS in San Diego. The dust from the "playa," as the former lake bed is called, is saltier and higher in some trace elements, although "it was not especially toxic compared to desert soils."

What prompted land loss for black farmers? An obscure property law

African-American farmers lost millions of acres of land across the South as a result of an obscure legal provision that is only now being corrected in state legislatures around the country, according to FERN’s latest story by Leah Douglas produced in partnership with The Nation magazine. (No Paywall)

Obama says agriculture adds to, suffers from climate change

In his first foreign speech since leaving office, former President Obama said agriculture is the second-largest source of greenhouse gases and it is feeling the effect of global warming. "We've already seen shrinking yields and rising food prices," Obama said at the Seeds and Chips conference in Milan, according to the New York Times.

Report: The world has lost more than half of its wildlife since 1970

“Worldwide populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have plunged by almost 60 percent since 1970 as human activities overwhelm the environment,” says Reuters, based on the 2016 Living Planet Report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Cutting pesticides by getting them to ‘stick’ to plants

Researchers at MIT figured out a way to get pesticides to better adhere to plant leaves, cutting the amount they sprayed by 90 percent and yielding similar results, according to Modern Farmer.

Boys more likely to end up running the family farm, but that may change

Half the seats in Midwest ag schools are filled by female students, but it’s the men in the classes who are likely to return home to run the farm. One communications teacher at Iowa State observed the difference first-hand when she assigned a film project and found that none of her female students planned on returning to manage their family’s farm, writes Harvest Public Media.

Africa’s farming potential undercut by tariffs, weak infrastructure

With 65 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land and 10 percent of its renewable freshwater resources, “Africa’s immense agricultural potential has long been a keen point of discussion among agronomists and global decision-makers,” writes Quartz Africa. But the continent faces a host of issues in reaching its potential.

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