Greenhouse vegetables Plant row Grow with Led Light Indoor Farm Technology

But power costs are a problem: There’s a budding industry that’s trying to solve the problem of the limp lettuce and tasteless tomatoes in America’s supermarkets. It’s full of technologists who grow crops in buildings instead of outdoors, short-cutting the need to prematurely harvest produce for a bumpy ride often thousands of miles to consumers in colder climes. More than 30 high-tech companies from the U.S. to Singapore are hoping to turn indoor farming into a major future food source, if only they can clear a stubborn hurdle: high power costs. READ MORE

WATER

Drought contingency plans being put in place: Some 40 million people rely on water and power from the Colorado River. Yet this year’s runoff from the Rocky Mountains down the Colorado River and into Lake Powell, which straddles the border between Utah and Arizona, is anticipated to be only 42 percent of the long-term average. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said the period between 2000 and 2018 is one of the worst drought cycles in the region in the last 1,200 years. READ MORE

Lake Mead levels projected to drop: Mexico and the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada face a better-than-even possibility of getting less water from the Colorado River in 2020 because of a persistent drought, water managers said Wednesday. Further projected drops in the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead, could trigger cuts for other states. READ MORE

Meanwhile, in South Africa: The drought in South Africa’s Northern and Western Cape provinces is billed as the worst on record, with Cape Town residents forsaking baths in favor of 90-second showers. But least the wine is getting better; drier weather meant fewer pests damaging vine leaves in the world’s eighth-biggest wine producer, and the warm temperatures helped boost the quality of the 2018 vintage. Prices for South African wine will be higher, however. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Prairie fires cause estimated $26 million loss: Estimated cattle operation losses from the April wildfires that raged across parts of western Oklahoma exceed $26 million, based on available information. The fires consumed more than 348,000 acres, killed some 1,600 head of cattle and destroyed more than 2,100 miles of fences. Estimated cost for fence replacement and repair is more than $16 million. Estimated cost for livestock killed or destroyed as a result of the fire, plus veterinary costs and reduced value of surviving injured animals, is $1.4 million. READ MORE

Farmland decreasing: Around any large or mid-size city in America, one can find land that was previously rich, fertile farmland being bulldozed and segmented to make room for housing and/or commercial businesses.  The American Farmland Trust  recently released a comprehensive assessment of the loss of U.S. farmland, sounding a stark warning. Between 1992 and 2012, almost 31 million acres of farmland were lost, equal to all the farmland in Iowa—and some of it was the best farmland in the country. READ MORE

In Kansas, the wheat suffers: Wheat across Kansas is facing a number of difficulties. Some wheat is short, some has suffered freeze damage, some has fallen victim of extreme drought stress, but nearly all of it has one thing in common—it’s immature. READ MORE

Concerns raised about Smithfield’s sow housing: Smithfield Foods officials said they have launched a third-party investigation of a North Carolina sow farm that an animal activist group claims is not abiding by the company’s transition away from sow gestation stalls. The group claims in a new report  that pregnant sows continue to be confined in “torturous” gestation stalls — despite Smithfield saying that it completed its 10-year transition to open sow housing at the end of 2017. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Romaine E. coli outbreak spreads: Four more states are reporting illnesses in a food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas have joined the list of states reporting at least one E. coli illness linked to the outbreak. At least 64 people have been hospitalized, including 17 with kidney failure. One person in California has died. READ MORE

CYBERSECURITY

Lull in Iranian cyber attacks may end: When the U.S. last tightened its sanctions against Iran in 2012, Iran fired back with one of the broadest series of cyberattacks ever to target the US, bombarding practically every major American bank with months of intermittent distributed denial of service attacks that pummeled their websites with junk traffic, knocking them offline. Since the U.S. lifted many of its sanctions in exchange for Iran’s promise to halt nuclear development, Tehran has  restrained state-sponsored online attacks against Western targets. Now, that détente appears to have ended. The lull in Iranian cyberattacks on the West may end, too. READ MORE

WEIRD STUFF

Have you received a Mandarin robocall? If you live in a part of the country that has a large Chinese immigrant population, you may have recently received a robocall in Mandarin — or even several of them. The calls seem to be blanketing certain phone exchanges without regard to the national origin of the recipients. Presumably, this is how the New York Police Department ended up on the call list. READ MORE