agriculture

The US Grows The Most Productive Plants In The World, Says NASA

Remember learning about America’s “amber waves of grain?” Well, it turns out that the United States’ bread basket — a.k.a., the Corn Belt — is even more productive than previously thought. In fact, during its growing season, it’s the most productive land on Earth, according to new NASA data.


How Mexico's Drug Cartels Are Driving Up The Price Of Limes In The U.S.

A lime shortage is threatening the U.S. food and beverage industry, with some bars and restaurants jacking up drink prices, charging extra for a slice — or refusing to serve the citrus at all. But there’s another reason to rethink that margarita: The pricey limes you’re buying from Mexico might be supporting drug violence.


How The US Drought Is Devastating California's #1 Food Export: Almonds

California grows a mind-boggling amount of the nation’s produce: 99 per cent of artichokes, 97 per cent of kiwis, 97 per cent of plums, 95 per cent of celery and on and on. That’s why the record-breaking drought in the US (yes, it’s finally raining — no, it won’t help much!) can affect shopping bills, even if people live nowhere near California. But with almonds — the state’s most lucrative agricultural export — the effect could reverberate for years.


What Do Fertiliser, Omega-3 Pills And Pig Feed Have In Common? A Fish

You have never seen a menhaden, but you have eaten one. Although no one sits down to a plate of these silvery, bug-eyed, foot-long fish at a seafood restaurant, menhaden travel through the human food chain mostly undetected in the bodies of other species, hidden in salmon, pork, onions and many other foods.


It's Like Squeezing Paint From A Goat

In the days before Home Depot paint departments, people splashed colour onto their walls the old fashioned way: using a mixture of pigment, lime and milk. Now, one Northern California farm is reviving this ancient tradition with the help of its resident goat herds.


Why This Small Town Is The Mushroom Capital Of The World

To grow mushrooms is to let things rot, so something’s a lot of things are rotten in the US state of Pennsylvania. The Atlantic’s deep dive into the dark side of truffles last week got us wondering about their more prosaic cousins: the portobellos and white buttons you find shrink-wrapped at the supermarket.


A Discovery That Literally Turns The Maple Syrup Industry Upside Down

And, yes, we do mean “literally.” But, before getting into the physics of it, let’s take a minute to imagine what a maple syrup farm today looks like. Tall maples, snowy woods — pretty much an idyllic New England scene. A recent scientific discovery, however, means that forests of mature trees could be replaced by fields of dense saplings, much like the row crops of Big Ag. No longer would maple syrup be a product of the wild. No longer would it have to abide by the rhythms of nature.


Is Human Pee The Future Of Fertiliser?

Among the things I found mortifying about my parents when I was a teenager was their habit of leaving buckets of pee in the bathroom. Instead of flushing all that phosphorous- and nitrogen-rich urine down the toilet, they saved it for our backyard vegetable garden. Pee as fertiliser has since — contrary to everything my teenage self wanted to believe — become a hip idea among some eco-minded backyard farmers.


Brave People Are Building Futuristic Farms On Japan's Radioactive Soil

What does radioactive salad taste like? How about rice sprinkled with nuclear fallout? Well, if you’re truly curious, consider taking your next vacation in Fukushima, where some intrepid farmers have begun the daunting task of farming the region’s tainted soil.


This Gorgeous Stained Glass Landscape Is Actually A Rice Field

Who knew growing rice on a mountain could be so beautiful? The Ailao Mountains in Yunnan, China, have been carved into thousands of gradual steps, each a paddy growing red rice. The rice terraces stretch out over some 400 square miles of mountains and valleys.