HPPR Environment

Awareness:
geography
geology
hydrology (water, aquifers, rivers)
flora
fauna (wildlife)
climate
weather
ecosystems
climate change

Management & conservation
water conservation
soil conservation
wildlife protection
policies & regulations

ENERGY.GOV

The wind that blows across the Great Plains makes it prime real estate for wind turbines.

But as Colorado Public Radio reports, some are concerned that wind energy could threaten the reliability of the nation’s electric grid, while others believe if properly planned for, there’s no limit on how much renewable energy the grid can one day handle.

CC0 Public Domain

Cheap, imported solar panels have fueled growth in the solar industry in Texas, and reinvigorated the careers of laid-off oilfield workers, as the Texas Tribune reports, but some industry leaders fear a trade case will increase prices and end that growth. 

Today we'll take a trip to a pumpkin paradise, thanks to Steve & Janet Weidner. These two are regional gourd royalty, tending a massive pumpkin and squash farm on the High Plains. 

Kansas wheat harvest yields a mixed bag

Jun 28, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

Wheat harvest is in full swing across the High Plains and according to Kansas Wheat, yields in the Sunflower State have been a mixed bag.

According to day 12 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest reports, Irsik and Doll Feed Service of Pierceville reported yields of 30 to 40 bushels per acre, while Mid State Farmers Coop of Rush Center reported average yields of 45 to 50 bushels per acre. The highest average yields reported by the WaKeeney branch of Frontier Ag, Inc., were in the 40s.

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Even though it brings in lots of green in terms of dollars to states that have legalized it, marijuana production is not green in the environmental sense.

More than $1 billion per year in taxable sales has been generated in Colorado since the state approved the legalization of cannabis in 2012, but as The Guardian reports, producing even a few pounds of weed is equivalent in the environmental sense to driving across America seven times.

Valarie Smith / High Plains Public Radio

Wildfires can be started by neglected campfires or cigarette butts. They can ignite from prescribed burns run amok, or launch from lightning strikes.

However they’re caused, Victoria Donovan, a Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, has been running the numbers to see how often they’re happening.

In a new study, she found a serious uptick in wildfires over the last 30 years across the Plains from Texas to the Dakotas.

Luke Clayton

Lake Tawakoni Catfish Guide David Hanson discusses catching channel catfish over holes baited with soured grain.

Fishing "baited holes" is a sure fire way of concentrating channel catfish during the summer months on any lake with a healthy population of catfish.

Luke Clayton

Lake Tawakoni Catfish Guide David Hanson discusses catching channel catfish over holes baited with soured grain.

Fishing "baited holes" is a sure fire way of concentrating channel catfish during the summer months on any lake with a healthy population of catfish.

This story was updated at 3:12 p.m.

A federal jury in Kansas City, Kansas, awarded nearly $218 million to Kansas corn farmers after finding seed giant Syngenta AG was negligent when it introduced strains of genetically engineered corn seed into the marketplace that were not approved for import by the Chinese government.  

The eight-member jury returned its $217,700,000 verdict after an 18-day-long trial, the first of eight certified class actions lawsuits against Syngenta brought in state court.

There's nothing sweeter than true love, but a fresh-picked, ripe strawberry might come close.

On today's edition of Growing on the High Plains, I thought I'd honor the tremendous season we've enjoyed from our berry patch by reflecting on the history of these seedy little fellows. 

From conflicting etymologies of the strawberry's name to calls for cautious consumption given their good grounding, these petite plumpers have a juicy past indeed.  

Sirdle / Flickr Creative Commons

In a new report, the top scientists in Texas have concluded that the hydraulic drilling process known as fracking pollutes the air, erodes soil and contaminates water.

As the San Antonio Express-News reports, the report also confirmed other studies that have found that wastewater disposal from fracking can lead to seismic activity.

ewea.org

While winds were blamed for spreading wildfires that raged across parts of the High Plains in early March, they are also being credited with boosting wind power’s share in High Plains states, including Colorado.

As The Denver Post reports, solar and wind power for the first time accounted for 10 percent of a month’s electricity generated in the U.S.

See a bee; hear a buzz.

That is what researchers studying the declining bee population are banking on. A new technique based on recording buzzing bees hopes to show farmers just how much pollinating the native bee population is doing in their fields.  

Vegetable and fruit growers depend on pollinators to do a lot of work in their greenhouses and fields. Pollinators, like bees, flutter about the blossoms on plants and orchard trees, transferring pollen from plant to plant and ensuring that those organisms have a chance at reproducing.

Luke Clayton

 

Tune in and learn from James Lynch with Wireless Traps about a state-of-the-art method of not only controlling wild hog numbers but putting some good eating pork in the freezer as well. 

Lindsey Bauman / Hutch News

The June moon, known as the Strawberry moon, will appear Friday. And Bergkamp figures, barring rain, he could be out in the field as soon as Thursday.

“These 90-degree days and sunshine really turned the wheat,” the Pretty Prairie-area farmer said as he worked on his combine header Tuesday afternoon.

The annual rite of June is gearing up in Kansas. It’s a time of year marked by long, hot days of combines rolling through ripen wheat. Trucks kick up dust as they travel the dirt roads to the elevator.

Father's Day is coming up this weekend, and it made me think back on my own father -- a man with wit, wisdom, and a unique collection of sayings. On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll share some of his more choice expressions, sage advice, and a little history that shaped him into the man and father that he was. 

I will always cherish my many memories of my dad, and I hope this segment honors the many wonderful fathers across our region. Happy Father's Day, to listeners across the High Plains.

LT. SETH FRIZZELL / HOLCOMB COMMUNITY FIRE DEPARTMENT

Areas of south central Kansas ravaged by March 6 wildfires could take decades to rebuild.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the fire that started March 5 in Oklahoma and spread north at 50 mph burned 600,000 acres in Kansas, making it the largest wildfire in state history.  Area ranchers lost 5,000 cattle and more than 1,000 miles of fencing and most of the ranches suffered more than $1 million in damages, much of it uninsured.

CC0 Public Domain

Marijuana operations are currently prohibited in Prowers County, Colorado, but members of a local economic board recently discussed the dramatic tax growth other Colorado communities have seen from the sale of marijuana in their towns.

Brandon Biesemeier climbs up a small ladder into a John Deere sprayer, takes a seat in the enclosed cab, closes the door, and blocks out most of the machine’s loud engine hum. It is a familiar perch to the fourth-generation farmer on Colorado’s eastern plains.

He turns onto a country road, heading south to spray an herbicide on his cornfields, an early growing season task his genetically engineered crops demand if he is to unlock their value. In the cab, a computer screen shows a little pixelated tractor moving across digital fields, logging his work.

USDA boosts forecast for wheat production

Jun 12, 2017
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday boosted its forecast for wheat production.

As Reuters reports, the USDA raised its forecast for overall winter wheat production from 1.246 billion bushels to 1.250 billion bushels

The report was expected to reflect a decrease in overall production to 1.239 billion bushels.

Luke Clayton

Luke makes salami-flavored meat sticks, using a sausage stuffer. He uses a Snack Stick sampler kit from Butcher Packer Supply www.butcher-packer.com, which contains everything needed for making 10 pounds of salami, deer hunter blend or teriyaki-flavored snack sticks.

While our region is known for its vast plains and wide open spaces, it's not uncommon for gardeners to experience space constraints from time to time.

While many oil producers went into bankruptcy as the oil economy sank around them, a few found a technique that has enabled them to boost oil output.

150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail

Jun 6, 2017
Rex Buchanan

One-hundred fifty years ago, Kansas was an undeveloped, rugged and often lawless place -- full of settlers, gamblers and gunslingers. Kansas was the very epicenter of the Wild West.

As Commentator Rex Buchanan tells us, the state was also full of another iconic symbol: cowboys.    

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Chives bloom at the Student Organic Farm at Iowa State University. Sales of organic produce continue to rise, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Sales of organic food reportedly climbed to record highs in 2016, an indication organics are edging toward the mainstream.

In a new industry report, the Organic Trade Association says American consumers spent $43 billion on organic products in 2016, which accounts for more than 5 percent of total U.S. food sales, a high water mark for the organic industry.

Luke Clayton

Luke shares a recipe he has used for many years for “camp baked beans,” one that is always well-received around camp or home. If you thought the only way to make tasty baked beans was to actually BAKE them, listen up!  Who knows, you might just discover that Luke's easy baked beans is the way to go! 

Rain helps fire-damaged grasslands recover in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma

Jun 2, 2017
K-State Research and Extension

ASHLAND – Late spring and early season rains are contributing to what agricultural producers and extension specialists are calling a steady recovery for grasslands ravaged by wildfires earlier this year in southwest Kansas and northwest Oklahoma.

In early March, fires in those regions took out an estimated 660,000 acres of pasture, much of which was used to graze cattle.

“This part of the country has never experienced anything like this before,” said Ashland cattleman Matt Ast.

Andrew Whitaker / The Hutchinson News

Vic Thomas’ family has always wrestled with the wind.

Born in 1934, Thomas knows the stories of the Dust Bowl days that blew across the family farm near Montezuma. He recalled how his mother would put up wet towels along the windows to help keep the dirt from coming through the cracks.

Even in the 1950s, when Thomas was farming full-time, he battled the wind and drought, which, thanks to better farming practices, wasn’t as bad as his father's Depression-era farming.

In his 82 years of life on the Kansas High Plains, Thomas still lives with the wind. 

Creative Commons CC0

Two recent explosions in Colorado have prompted renewed debate about the proximity of oil and gas operations to homes.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, just over a month after a home in Firestone, Colorado exploded, killing two men and severely injuring one woman, another explosion in nearby Mead killed one man and injured three others.

If April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, what will our May blizzard bring? 

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