Articles on Agriculture

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A barn that can hold up to 4,800 hogs outside Berwick, Pa. The state says the farm is in compliance with regulations, but residents have gone to court seeking relief from odors. AP Photo/Michael Rubinkam

Rural Americans’ struggles against factory farm pollution find traction in court

Many people who live near large-scale livestock farms complain about noxious smells, air and water pollution and health risks. With little help from regulators, they are turning to lawsuits.
Crop insurance is designed to help farmers weather disasters such as Hurricane Irma, which devastated many Florida citrus farms in 2017. AP Photo/Tamara Lush

Crop insurance is good for farmers, but not always for the environment

Crop insurance cushions farmers against natural disasters, but it also can lead them to overuse resources and reduce their incentive to adapt to climate change.
Soybean seeds treated with neonicotinoids (blue) and treated corn seeds (red) versus untreated seeds. Ian Grettenberger/PennState University

Why it’s time to curb widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides

US farmers are planting more and more acres with seeds coated with neonicotinoid pesticides. An ecologist explains why this approach is overkill and may be doing more harm than good.
Australia’s romantic attitude to farming has done untold damage to the land. Shutterstock.com

Friday essay: Dark Emu and the blindness of Australian agriculture

The powerful ideological connection between Australia and agriculture is being increasingly scrutinised. A spate of recent books have recast basic assumptions about our relationship to the land.
‘Silent Spring’ author Rachel Carson testifies before a Senate Government Operations Subcommittee in Washington, D.C. on June 4, 1963. Carson urged Congress to curb the sale of chemical pesticides and aerial spraying. AP

Would Rachel Carson eat organic?

Did Rachel Carson catalyze the organic farming movement, as many advocates claim? Or would she reject their ban on synthetic fertilizer and see organic as an inefficient way to feed the world?
The lighter citrus plants have been edited using CRISPR to alter the phytoene desaturase (PDS) gene which gives them a white color. Yi Li

These CRISPR-modified crops don’t count as GMOs

GMO crops have been rejected by many countries and consumers. Now, an international team of researchers are creating better crops using DNA editing--without inserting foreign genes into the plant.
Ammonia production is one of the most energy-intensive industrial processes on the planet. By saoirse2013/shutterstock.com

A sustainable, energy-saving way to make the key ingredient in fertilizers

Producing ammonia, which is a key ingredient in fertilizers, is one of the world's most energy-intensive chemical manufacturing processes. Now there's a new low energy option in development.

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