Energy & Environment

Flying east to west over Kansas, the land transforms from lush green to desert brown. Rectangular farm plots fill in with emerald circles, the work of center-pivot irrigation.

Outside Garden City, in the middle of one of those circles, Dwane Roth scoops up soil to reveal an inconspicuous PVC pipe. It’s a soil moisture probe that tells Roth exactly how much water his crops need. The device is one of many new technologies designed to help farmers make the most of every drop.

“All that you have to do is open up your app,” said Roth. “It’s going to tell you, you don’t need to irrigate or you’re going to need to apply an inch within  six days.”

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Perhaps conserving energy is important to you. You’ve switched out all of your incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. You keep your thermostat set at 78 in the summer. You might even get mad at your kids when they leave a light on.

Your neighbor, on the other hand, isn’t quite as concerned. He keeps the thermostat set consistently at 68 and he hasn’t replaced any of his light bulbs because, in his words, who wants to pay $10 for a new one?

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media/File photo

New research suggests that no-till farming could help mitigate climate change.

A study from Iowa State University, released Monday, examined Midwest land use between 1850 to 2015. As agriculture and the practice of tilling spread, less carbon was being stored in the ground and more was going into the atmosphere. That added to the carbon emissions already accumulating from burning coal and driving cars.

A solution, according to study co-author Chaoqun Lu, is ending tilling.

Edmiston Oil Company

Kansas oil production continued its decline in 2017 even as prices began to tick up.

The public submitted more than 100 comments to Kansas regulators about the proposed merger of Great Plains Energy and Westar Energy. Almost all of them were negative.

usgs.gov

Watershed conservation groups in Wichita made their pitch Wednesday for more money from the federal farm bill.

But for two Kansas congressmen, conservation falls a bit lower on the wishlist.

Brian Grimmett / KMUW

Early on the morning of March 16, wind provided 60 percent of the region’s electric needs. That number set a record, breaking an earlier one set only a week and a half earlier.

Wind power also recently set records for highest peak generation at 15,690 MW and continuously sustained generation of more than 13,000 MW for three days.

Brian Grimmett / KMUW

A decade ago, Kansans felt an earthquake once every few years. Now ground tremors come regularly. One of the hardest hit areas is Harper County in the south central part of the state.

It’s no coincidence, scientists and state regulators agree, that Harper and Sumner counties are also where massive amounts of wastewater has been pumped below ground by outfits drilling for oil and natural gas.

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