Thursday, September 26, 2013

Problems in the Mississippi River are Flowing Upstream: Gulf Restoration Network v. EPA

In 2008, various nonprofit environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create rules to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the Mississippi River Basin.  The environmental groups argued that because of the massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico—known as “gulf hypoxia”--the EPA was required to do a better job of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus run-off into the Mississippi River and its upstream tributaries.  The groups asserted that the Clean Water Act required the EPA to create new rules for reducing nitrogen and phosphorus.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Economist is Right: Farming as Rocket Science.

Like many farm kids, I grew up learning how to build rockets.  Though miniature in size, the same components that made NASA rockets fly worked with our model rockets too.  The rockets contained real engines, cargo bays, and parachutes that would deploy (if everything went right) on descent.  I never thought that building rockets had anything to do with farming, but a recent article The Economist has changed my mind: 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Will drones be used by government agencies to monitor agriculture?

All of the excitement over drones lately has made me wonder how more widespread use of drones will affect agriculture.   We got a preview of the issue last year, when one Congressman falsely accused the EPA of using military drones to spy on farmers.  It is true the EPA uses aerial surveillance to look for water quality violations, but as far as I am aware such activities involve old-school tactics–people, Cessnas, and cameras.  Still, farmers looking into the future might wonder, could the EPA (or other government agency) use drones to monitor farms?