Jonathan Ahl

Reporter

Jonathan Ahl reports from Missouri for Harvest Public Media. He also is the Rolla reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. Before coming to St. Louis Public Radio in November 2018, Jonathan was the General Manager for Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, Illinois. He previously was the News Director at Iowa Public Radio and before that at WCBU in Peoria, Illinois. Jonathan has also held reporting positions in central Illinois for public radio stations. Jonathan is originally from the Chicago area. He has a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from Western Illinois University and an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. He is an avid long distance runner, semi-professional saxophonist and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.

Pittsburg State University

A new home for soybeans could be on the fairway as research is under way to make golf balls out of soybeans.

Researchers at Pittsburg State University in Kansas are working to see if they can replace the oil-based plastics that go into making golf balls with materials made from soybean oil. 

So far, they are off to a good start.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

China’s corn output this year is expected to be a record for the country, but that won’t have a noticeable effect on Midwestern farmers.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, China will produce 273 million metric tons, up 5 percent from last year and the biggest corn harvest ever. 

But Midwest corn producers aren’t worried.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Some Midwestern farmers are involved in a research project to help determine  how good some practices are for the environment, and it may help them take advantage of new attempts to establish a carbon credit trade market.

The project run by Missouri Corn Growers Association and Missouri Soybean Association is looking at quantifying the reduction of carbon emissions when farmers take on practices like no-till, planting cover crops and refining fertilizer application schedules.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Agriculture is responsible for more than 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and some in the industry are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

One of those efforts is replacing the kind of crushed rock farmers use to neutralize their soil’s acidity, from limestone to basalt. 

Scientists are running tests in fields around the world to see if the swap will work to keep the soil healthy, increase yield and reduce agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. 

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Feral hogs cause a myriad of environmental problems in a growing number of states, and a new study says they also are adding to climate change.

The wild pigs do not have natural predators in the Americas, Asia and most of Africa, so they are damaging agriculture and recreational land as well as threatening native plants and animals. 

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

In the mounting battle between manufacturers trying to protect their technology from intellectual theft and customers who want more freedom to fix things when that technology breaks down, the Biden administration has won some gratitude in farm country.

Early last month, President Joe Biden issued an executive order telling the Federal Trade Commission to let individuals and repair shops fix products — from six-figure tractors to smartphones — rather than only turning to manufacturers.

Jonathan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

Trees' role in agriculture tend to be viewed as limited to the lumber industry or highly organized orchards to grow fruits, but some farmers are looking to the forest floor to get more people into agriculture, at least part-time. 

Dennis Lindberg’s five acres in southern Missouri don’t look like a farm. Amongst the trees on the sloping ground are smatterings of small, green plants. Those are his crops. 

Purdue University Extension

A fungus that attacks vegetables has shown up early this year, and that could threaten the availability of pumpkin pie filling at Thanksgiving.

Phytophthora blight is a vine infection that can damage vegetables including peppers, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins. It shows up most years, but this summer, heavy rains in late June and early July have made it appear early.

Joanthan Ahl / Harvest Public Media

July 1 is the date that President Joe Biden wants the country to be 70% vaccinated, and rural areas are far behind urban centers in progress toward that goal. 

Agriculture, business and health care groups addressed the topic of improving rural vaccination rates during a virtual National Rural Business Summit earlier this month to share ideas and strategies to change that.

Facebook

Harley Hand often starts his day by getting in a combine and heading out to one of his fields. But it’s not a real combine, field or farm. He is one of several people who make a living playing the game Farm Simulator and streaming the game on platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.

“First, let me jump in a combine. We have a soybean harvest, guys. We have a big harvest, a bunch of fields that are ready to go,” Hand said to start a recent three-hour live stream of Farming Simulator to an audience of more than 200 people.

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