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DES MOINES

Iowa leaders want to build greenhouses

Des Moines is considering a group's proposal to build greenhouses along downtown railroad tracks as part of a long-term project that supporters say would meet demands for locally grown food and provide research space.

The Des Moines Register reported that New York architect Mario Gandelsonas and local venture capitalist Jim Cownie met with the City Council this week to discuss their plan to build the Des Moines Agricultural Corridor through downtown.

Gandelsonas helped reshape Des Moines when he laid out his vision for the city nearly 30 years ago, which ultimately led to the development of the Western Gateway, the Principal Riverwalk and resurrection of the East Village.

The new project could take 20 years to build and would likely cost tens of millions of dollars, Cownie said.

But he said the farms could meet demand for locally grown food and provide produce for area farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants. The project could offer research space for Iowa State University students and agriculture companies, he said.

The plans also call for a pedestrian corridor along the greenhouses, with a recreational trail and landscaping.

Gandelsonas said the project is a cultural symbol that will showcase the state's farming roots.

No land has been acquired and no money has yet been raised for the project.

The goal is to start with one half-acre greenhouse that is expected to cost around $5 million.

MADISON

UW system to host Dairy Summit

University of Wisconsin will be hosting its annual System’s upcoming Wisconsin Idea Dairy Summit, set for 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 19, at the Alliant Energy Center.

The summit looks to foster dialogue and partnerships—among legislators, researchers, farmers and producers—towards a more prosperous future for Wisconsin’s dairy industry. Experts will discuss the status of Wisconsin’s dairy industry, industry trends, production advances, research innovations, the future of the state’s dairy industry and key priorities for moving forward.

Speakers and moderators from CALS include Dean Kate VandenBosch; Mark Stephenson, Director of the Center for Dairy Profitability; and John Lucey, professor of food science and Director of the Center for Dairy Research.

This event is free (including free lunch and free parking) and open to the public. For more information contact contact Anne Minssen at (608) 262-4049.

PITTSBURG, KS

Groups come together to open high tunnel

Members from Live Well Crawford County, Kansas State University Research and Extension, the Career and Technical Education Center of Crawford County and the Crawford County Commission officially cut the ribbon on the high tunnel on the CTEC property Monday.

The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that the high tunnel functions like a greenhouse, but sits on the ground, allowing produce to be planted directly into the soil, and was funded through a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.

The tunnel will be used by the organizations listed above for a number of programs. CTEC Interim Director Randy Corns said the high tunnel will allow CTEC to offer agriculture classes to the six Crawford County high schools. The classes are expected to begin being offered next year, and will be taught by an instructor hired by Fort Scott Community College, which partners with CTEC to offer several courses.

"Not only adults, but students in the community will benefit from this," he said. "We plan not only to teach the agriculture side, but the side of turning a facility like this into a business."

Wildcat District Extension has set up the LEGS program — Local, Eat, Grow, Sustainability — which will utilize the high tunnel for hands-on workshops, teaching community members to grow their own produce and even set up a high tunnel facility themselves.

DES MOINES, IA

Water utility to expand nitrate removal facility

Des Moines Water Works plans to double the size of the nitrate removal facility that treats drinking water from the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers.

The Des Moines Register reported that the utility's board this week approved an $800,000 design contract. The utility expects to spend $15 million on the project, and officials said the new equipment and the cost to operate it will require bigger future rate increases.

The original nitrate facility was constructed for $4.1 million in 1991. It has eight large tanks that can process 10 million gallons of water per day and are used when nitrate levels are so high that there's not enough water to dilute the compounds. Federal drinking water standards require levels to be below 10 milligrams per liter.

The utility turned on the equipment for the first time this year on Sunday. Company spokesperson Laura Sarcone said that despite high river levels because of rain, nitrates were at 12 milligrams per liter on Tuesday, May 23.

The utility sued three northern Iowa counties, accusing them of allowing agricultural drainage districts to send nitrate pollution into the rivers. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in March, saying Iowa's water quality problems were an issue for the Iowa Legislature. The lawsuit sought damages for the money the utility has spent to remove the nitrates.

WASHINGTON DC

USDA: Big gains in corn planting in IN and MI

Corn planting had big gains in Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio this past week, while rain slowed progress in Iowa and Illinois, weekly government crop data showed.

Nationwide, corn planting reached 84%, one point behind the five-year average while soybean planting reached 53% versus the 52% average.

Iowa’s corn planting advanced to 92% from last week’s 85% as rain limited fieldwork to only 2.3 days. The Iowa corn was rated 1% very poor, 2% poor, 22% fair, 63 %good and 12% excellent.

Indiana corn planting jumped to 76% from 56%, Michigan to 67% from 30%, North Dakota to 82% from 58% and Ohio went to 73% from 49%. Indiana and Michigan trailed the five-year averages, while the other two matched or beat them.

North Dakota had rain and cool weather in the eastern areas, which slowed planting there, but was dry in the western two-thirds of the state. In all there was 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork.

Soybean planting at 53% was 1 point better than the five-year average, with big gains reported throughout the Midwest and Plains. Iowa reached 62% to top its 60% average, Illinois was at 48% versus the 52% average, Indiana was 47% versus the 50% average. Nationwide, 19% was emerged versus the 21% average.

Nationally, winter wheat improved 1 point to 52% good/excellent. However, Illinois wheat posted another big drop while the Kansas crop improved. The Illinois state report did not provide a specific reason for wheat dropping to 44% good/excellent from last week’s 52%, but the state had about 1.61 inch of rain over the past week and 4 days suitable for fieldwork. Also, 27% of Illinois wheat was rated poor to very poor versus 21% a week ago.

Spring wheat planting reached 90% and emergence 62%, compared with the 84% and 59% averages. In North Dakota, it was 88% planted versus the 75% average and 56% had emerged versus the 51% average.

 

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