Researchers experiment with windbreaks as an aid for pollinators

At the University of Nebraska, researchers are experimenting with the agricultural landscape to see if modifications such as windbreaks or cover crops will limit pesticide drift and help bees avoid harmful exposure to the chemicals. Farmers generally plant corn and soybean seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides, which can be rubbed off of the seed during planting and land on plants visited by foraging bees, says Harvest Public Media.

Monsanto to study sage brush restoration to mitigate mine project

The world's largest seed company, Monsanto, says it will research restoration of habitat for sage grouse on 320 acres of its corporate ranch in Idaho, reports Capital Press. The work would mitigate the impact of a Caldwell Canyon phosphate mine that Monsanto intends to open.

USDA tweaks Conservation Reserve to protect water, wildlife, wetlands

With enrollment in the land-idling Conservation Reserve nearing its statutory limit of 24 million acres, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced revisions in the program to protect water quality and to benefit wildlife, pollinators and wetlands. Under one of the changes, USDA will pay up to 90 percent of the cost of environmentally beneficial practices, such as bioreactors and saturated buffers that clean up run-off from drainage lines running beneath cropland.

Study: Oregon oysters laced with pharmaceuticals and heavy metals

Native Olympia oysters in Oregon's Netarts and Coos bays are loaded with pharmaceuticals and chemicals, including pain relievers, antibiotics, mercury and pesticides, says a study by Portland State University researchers, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Geological Survey and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The monarch butterfly’s problems are more than milkweed

Two researchers at Cornell say the factors behind the decline in monarch butterfly populations are wider spread than the loss of milkweed, their summertime food source. They say the list includes sparse nectar sources in the fall, adverse weather and fragmentation of habitat.