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

You don't need bees and butterflies to grow corn and soybeans, but a majority of farmers do rely on pesticides, which don't discriminate between helpful and harmful insects.

The widespread use of pesticides is considered a major factor in the large-scale decline in bee populations in recent years. But it's unlikely farmers will give up or limit pesticide use, so instead, a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is looking at designing agricultural landscapes with pollinator health in mind.

In other Plains and Midwestern states, researchers are having farmers plant prairie strips between fields to help combat water contamination from pesticides and fertilizer. UNL's five-year project wants to find out whether windbreaks, planted pollinator habitat, cover crops or a combination of those techniques can help limit pesticide drift.

Today's Growing on the High Plains digs DEEP into the hearty meat of the winter squash.

While many are taken aback by their thick skin, heft, and cloistered cluster of slermy seeds, these gourds are sweet, succulent siblings that enrich every seasonal table. So don't be afraid to chop hard and enjoy these winter treasures. 

SARAH&BOSTON / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

A new study by the University of Colorado has found more evidence that links earthquakes along the Colorado-New Mexico border to wastewater injection wells, similar to human-caused quakes in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.

Burkey Farms in southeast Nebraska looked into the future a couple of years ago and didn’t like what it saw — a continuation of depressed prices for conventional corn and soybeans. So, the families who run the farm together started discussing how the operation would make money if they couldn’t earn more from their crops.  

Their conversation took a turn toward organics, a $40 billion industry and growing, especially in Iowa and Colorado.

CCO Creative Commons

Overall corn production is expected to decrease slightly in Kansas but increase in Colorado.

According to Kansas Corn, in its October crop production estimate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is projecting Kansas corn production at 697 million bushels, down slightly from last year’s record harvest of 699 million bushels. NASS is predicting more harvested acres and a slightly higher yield.

The governments of Douglas County and Lawrence are calling for changes to Kansas regulations amid an energy company’s proposal to pump wastewater into wells in rural Eudora.

Among their concerns, the local officials argue that the public deserves a 60-day protest period — twice as long as the current allowance — when companies seek to operate such wells in or near their communities.

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman said the goal is “good public process.”

Despite the fact that it’s almost Halloween, the weather in the Texas Panhandle has yet to turn cold for any significant length of time, and mosquitoes continue to plague the region.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, recent rains combined with warm temperatures have resulted in rampant breeding grounds for the bloodsuckers. Since July, Amarillo has received 17 inches of rain—the third highest amount ever.

Luke Clayton

Luke describes the easy way of making smoked jalapeno German summer sausage, from a kit that contains the blended seasoning, casings and cure.

As the days get shorter, you might notice our High Plains foliage taking a long, slow bath in the glow of the October sunset.

That's right: our awesome Autumn is upon us, so today's edition of Growing on the High Plains will take an inventory of what makes a cornucopia of garden color. Will the recent, regular rainfall reign in the reds? Can potatoes predict a wet winter? And what will the wooly worms have to say about it? Whatever shade the shrubbery may fade, we must all revel in the "big reveal" or the coming color show.   

Wallethub

The average American family spends $2,000 per year on energy. But some states are far more energy efficient than others. The personal finance website Wallethub set out to discover which states are doing more with less energy.

Plant breeder Jessica Barb is on a mission to improve how sunflowers self-pollinate, a trait that'll be increasingly important to farmers are wild bee populations diminish. Her research tool of choice: a paper towel. 

A new report suggests the Environmental Protection Agency should consider lowering the legal limit in drinking water for nitrates, a chemical often connected to fertilizer use.

Robert W. Hart / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has moved to unwind several Obama-era regulations designed to slash air pollution, protect the quality of major waterways and spur cities to reduce ozone.

There will be new restrictions on the weed killer dicamba for the 2018 growing season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.

The broadly defined restrictions, similar to what the state of Missouri imposed over the summer, were announced Friday in a news release. The EPA says it reached an agreement with agriculture giants Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on ways to tamp down on dicamba drift, which has been blamed for destroying or damaging millions of acres of crops in the United States.

There’s a genetic technology that scientists are eager to apply to food, touting its possibilities for things like mushrooms that don’t brown and pigs that are resistant to deadly diseases.

And food industry groups, still reeling from widespread protests against genetically engineered corn and soybeans (aka GMOs) that have made it difficult to get genetically engineered food to grocery store shelves, are looking to influence public opinion.

Luke Clayton

Not too many years ago, scouting for game equated to reading the sign the animals left on the ground. Locating buck rubs and scrapes, tracks and wild hog rootings was the only way to pattern game. These skills are still extremely important for the hunter, but today's trail cameras are a great benefit also.

Luke discusses the wide variety of cameras available today and highlights a couple of models from Wildgame Innovations that he has great confidence in.

As soybean and cotton farmers across the Midwest and South continue to see their crops ravaged from the weed killer dicamba, new complaints have pointed to the herbicide as a factor in widespread damage to oak trees.

Monsanto and BASF, two of agriculture’s largest seed and pesticide providers, released versions of the dicamba this growing season. The new versions came several months after Monsanto released its latest cotton and soybean seeds genetically engineered to resist dicamba in 2016. Since then, farmers across the Midwest and South have blamed drift from dicamba for ruining millions of acres of soybeans and cotton produced by older versions of seeds.

Now, complaints have emerged that the misuse of dicamba may be responsible for damage to oak trees in Iowa, Illinois and Tennessee.

Greg Goebel / Wikimedia Commons

A new rule enacted by Donald Trump’s EPA will allow coal plants to increase the amount of pollution they pump into the atmosphere, reports The Texas Observer.

In fact, the new rule will allow coal power plants to emit almost twice as much sulfur dioxide as the previous restrictions instituted by the Obama Administration.

CCO Creative Commons

It’s a blue-sky day as hired hand Mike Apfel sits in the cab of a combine, gliding through 12 rows at a time in big field near South Hutchinson.

If all goes well this last field of corn of the season might be done by nightfall - well before thunderstorms halt machinery this week.

Not that there isn’t plenty to do in autumn on the farm.

It’s October. While corn is done, the marathon of autumn continues.

Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

A new study has found that the vast amount of animal-feed crops humans grow to satisfy the global appetite for meat is seriously harming the planet.

As The Guardian reports, the study by the World Wildlife Fund finds that the earth’s environment is being put under a heavy strain by the staggering amount of land and resources needed to grow crops like soy to feed chickens, pigs, and other animals.

Luke Clayton

With big game hunting so popular these days, many youngsters are missing the sport and excellent eating provided by small game hunting. Back a few decades ago, before deer numbers rebounded thanks to restocking programs, hunting rabbits and squirrel was much more popular. 

With small numbers extremely high these days, why not spend some time and harvest some of the best tasting game meat imaginable? Rabbit or squirrel, first fried and then baked with gravy and rice is the stuff great meals are made of.

Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Water Development Board is crafting the state's first-ever flood plan, which will take a comprehensive look at flooding vulnerabilities across the state and the projects that might mitigate them.

The Texas Tribune reports: 

For 60 years, the Texas Water Development Board has been the keeper of a master list of projects that are supposed to meet the state's water needs for the next half century. But the latest list the agency is compiling is not about supplying water — it's about managing it.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The uptick in seismic activity in Oklahoma is featured in an Oct. 2  National Geographic article that takes a look at the increase in earthquakes induced by such human activities as fracking.

According to the article, a recent study published in the journal Seismological Research Letters identified 730 sites where human activity caused earthquakes over the past 150 years.

'Tis The Season To Watch For Deer On Kansas Roadways

Oct 5, 2017
Flickr

It’s the time of year when deer/car collisions increase in Kansas and the Kansas Highway Patrol is offering drivers a few tips to keep in mind when encountering deer on the roadways.

As The Hays Post reports, almost half of the car/deer crashes in Kansas occur in October, November and December.

The Kansas Highway Patrol offers the following tips to avoid crashing with a deer.

While our lush, summertime greens fall into Fall, the High Plains often fades to wheaty yellows and golden browns. However, there are ways to keep rich, warm colors popping in your garden as the season's crisp chill creeps across the flatlands. 

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll reveal a showy shrub often called the "burning bush." It's easy to maintain in our region and serves a splash of color, from flamboyant fuchsia and ravishing red.  

In the summer of 2002, water pumps in Colorado’s San Luis Valley stopped working.

The center pivot sprinklers that coax shoots from the dry soil and turn the valley into one of the state’s most productive agricultural regions strained so hard to pull water from an underground aquifer that they created sunken pits around them.

“This one right over here,” says potato farmer Doug Messick as he walks toward a sprinkler, near the town of Center. He's the farm manager for the valley's Spud Grower Farms. “I came up to it one day and I could’ve driven my pickup in that hole.”

A new study says small patches of native prairie plants provide a range of conservation benefits to Iowa’s landscape and could reduce water pollution from farm fields.

The fight over an oil-related waste disposal well in Kansas’ Flint Hills has broadened into a campaign to protest similar wells across several counties and lobby lawmakers for regulatory changes.

Luke Clayton

Deer are in pre-rut and their feeding habits right now are pretty dependable. When the whitetail breeding season (rut) begins, the bucks will be on the move and more difficult to pattern. Find a good oak grove with acorns or a trail leading into or out of an agricultural field and you are well on your way to arrowing an early season whitetail.

Luke also gives some tips on how he sets up the sight pin on his hunting bows.

CCO Creative Commons

Rural Colorado communities with landfills are feeling the sting of a state regulation being mandated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

As The Prowers Journal reported in August, two eastern Colorado communities were cited several years ago for landfill problems associated with record keeping and landfill operations, resulting in regulations that are costly for the sparsely populated communities to maintain.

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