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Water in the News

May 15, 2014

Is precision agriculture finally taking root?

One of the hottest topics of conversation right now in agricultural and high-tech circles is precision agriculture, the use of GPS services, sensors and Big Data analytics to conserve water and improve crop yields. Cleantech startups related to food and agriculture experienced the biggest growth during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to recent data reported by Cleantech Group.

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Confronting extreme weather on US farms
The Energy Collective

Climate change is bringing more frequent and severe weather challenges, unlike any that farmers have seen before, and already farmers are feeling the effects. Countless scientists agree that climate change will affect every part of our food system — from crop yields to food processing and distribution. More dry days and hot nights will stress already limited water resources. Ironically, when it does rain, it will pour, exacerbating soil erosion. Farmers will need to confront new challenges from weeds, diseases and pests. But farmers don’t need a scientist to tell them times are tough. They can just look out their windows.

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Corn and sorghum producers encouraged to prevent atrazine runoff

For the past 50 years, atrazine has been used by corn and sorghum producers as an alternative to conventional tillage production practices for selective control of broadleaf and grass weeds. While it is one of the most effective and economical herbicides available, atrazine’s chemical properties make it susceptible to runoff into surface waters. Kansas State researchers have found annual atrazine runoff losses of 1-3 percent of the total rate applied.

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Report: Climate change stressing soil

Soil conservation practices will become more critical as weather volatility increases with higher temperatures and rising atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels, said one of the lead authors of the agriculture chapter in the National Climate Assessment. The National Climate Assessment, a report mandated by Congress, examines the way climate change will affect different industries and regions of the country in the future, as well as adaptation strategies to cope with the effects.

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Ogallala water use climbs as drought intensifies in the Southern Plains
Circle of Blue

Drought is deepening in the southern Great Plains, a beleaguered region whose four-year dry cycle has been like a roller coaster ride through a high-velocity hair dryer. Soils are baked and blowing, farmers are nervous and groundwater tables continue to fall.

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Farm reservoir keeps nutrients away from lake
Winnipeg Free Press

If every farmer did like Carl Classen, we might not be fretting about the future of Lake Winnipeg. Classen has dug an on-farm reservoir to hold back drainage from his farm. That means nutrient-rich water runoff doesn’t flow into public ditches and ultimately Lake Winnipeg. Not that farmers are the sole source of nutrient loading into the lake, but on-farm reservoirs would go a long way to reducing the lake’s nitrogen and phosphorous levels and subsequent algae blooms.

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