Soil Sensors Can Cut Farms’ Water Use By a Quarter During Drought

We’ve extensively covered California’s drought, in which farming is playing a key role. While there’s no easy answer about how to restrict agricultural water use, a new startup wants to help farmers all over the country conserve valuable H20 using smart sensors that dictate where—and when—to water their crops. » 6/22/15 3:10pm 6/22/15 3:10pm

Farmers Are Pumping So Much Groundwater It's Making California Sink

What happens when your water supply runs dry? You go underground. In some parts of California, drought-plagued farmers are digging groundwater wells that plunge deeper and deeper into the earth, siphoning away the water of their neighbors, and causing the ground to collapse—potentially destroying the soil for good. » 6/05/15 7:30pm 6/05/15 7:30pm

Government-Subsidized Cotton Farms Are Sucking the Colorado River Dry

Not too many drought stories have focused on cotton. As one of the thirstiest crops, it was long abandoned by many farmers in the regions hardest hit by unprecedented water scarcity. Except for one part of Arizona, where cotton blooms defiantly, even today. Because here, the more cotton fails, the more the US pays… » 5/27/15 8:20pm 5/27/15 8:20pm

Learning From Australia's Drought Lessons to Avoid a Mad Max Future

The drought is no longer a California problem. The Colorado River, which supplies water to one-eighth of the country’s population, is reporting record low water levels due to overallocation. The US needs a little perspective when it comes to how bad this is going to get. Luckily we have one: Australia. » 5/15/15 12:00pm 5/15/15 12:00pm

California's Drought Is Making Its Dying Inland Sea Even More Toxic

Most of the narratives about California’s drought focus on the state’s Central Valley, where the nonexistent snowpack from the Sierras is threatening the economic vitality of the region. But the other, lesser told story is playing out in the southeast corner of the state, where the lack of water is actually poisoning… » 5/01/15 6:20pm 5/01/15 6:20pm

California Farmers Without Water Are Installing Solar Panels Instead

Due to the unprecedented drought, many of California’s farmers won’t be allocated any water this year, thanks to the way that the state’s water rights work. But what actually happens to the farms that don’t get water? Some of the farmers are ditching produce altogether for a more profitable alternative to… » 4/27/15 6:49pm 4/27/15 6:49pm

Should We Freak Out That a Common Herbicide Is "Probably Carcinogenic?"

Glyphosate, better known as Roundup, is widely used to kill weeds, especially along with genetically modified crops engineered to be glyphosate-resistant. The World Health Organization today released an assessment calling the weedkiller "probably carcinogenic." But it's not as scary as it sounds. » 3/25/15 3:11pm 3/25/15 3:11pm

The High Tech Farms Where Our Future Food Will Grow in Nothing But Air

If our planet is going to support an extra four billion people by the end of the century, we'll need to find some creative new ways to feed ourselves. One option would be to turn buildings into farms and grow our crops in the air. Another: To install networked food computers in everybody's home. I'm not even kidding. » 3/05/15 11:00am 3/05/15 11:00am

The U.S. Just Approved Its First GMO Apple, Which Doesn't Turn Brown 

For years, a small Canadian company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, has been touting its Arctic apple, which doesn't turn an unsightly brown after being sliced. The U.S. Department of Agriculture finally approved it for planting this week. But before you see any Arctic apples at the grocery store, get ready for a big… » 2/14/15 12:00pm 2/14/15 12:00pm

All the World's Cows on Treadmills Could Power Six Percent of Earth

When roaming open pastures, cattle can walk up to eight hours a day while grazing but they can't always get as much exercise when confined to a barnyard. One enterprising farmer, however, has invented an ingenious means of getting his herd mooving—and generate a bit of free electricity on the side. » 1/16/15 11:40am 1/16/15 11:40am

The World's Most Badass Combine Harvester Just Set a World Record

A bushel's as good as a peck to most folks outside the agricultural industry but that doesn't make the New Holland CR10.90's wheat-picking feat any less impressive. It was able to harvest nearly 800 tons of the grain from 198 acres of English farmland in a single workday—all while setting a Guinness world record. » 10/16/14 11:43am 10/16/14 11:43am