Industrial hemp to be grown on test field in Wisconsin

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — Industrial hemp will be grown in Chippewa Falls this year as part of a statewide project with the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Division of Extension.

Extension agent Jerry Clark said three to five varieties of industrial hemp will be grown on a parcel on county-owned farmland. It will probably be one or two acres total.

“Any time you can be part of a new crop, we’re going to try it,” Clark said. “We’re excited to see how this crop grows.”

The Chippewa County site is among four trial field sites across the state. Another trial site is on a private field in Buffalo County.

Among the work the researchers will do is to determine the best soil and conditions for the plant.

There are three potential markets for industrial hemp: oil, grains and fiber.

The studies done will help determine if hemp can become a regular rotation crop on Wisconsin farms.

Jury convicts former S.D. aquaponics company official of fraud

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a former executive of a South Dakota company accused of defrauding investors in a scheme to build an $11 million fish farm.

The jury on April 29 found Timothy Burns guilty of five charges of wire fraud for his role in soliciting investors for Global Aquaponics in Brookings. He will be sentenced later.

Burns was the one-time chief operating officer of Global Aquaponics. The company sought investors to build an indoor fish farm and hydroponics facility.

But the Argus Leader reports construction on the fish farm never started. Investors who put a minimum of $25,000 each in the project lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Businessman Tobias Ritesman earlier pleaded guilty to all 18 counts against him in the alleged scheme. Ritesman also awaits sentencing.

Iowa officials trying to stop spread of gypsy moths

BELLEVUE, Iowa — Officials are trying to stop the spread of gypsy moths in eastern Iowa’s Jackson County.

The gypsy moth is an invasive species that can cause deforestation as its larvae eat tree leaves, especially oaks.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship directed aerial treatments of designated swaths of land situated west of Bellevue earlier this month to curtail the proliferation of gypsy moths.

“Last year’s treatment was successful in reducing the number of gypsy moths, but we noted that there was movement northward,” said Mike Kintner, a gypsy moth outreach and regulatory coordinator for Iowa. “This year, we’re trying to stop that spread.”

Since the 1870s, the gypsy moth has gradually spread west from Massachusetts. The insect already has a substantial presence in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Northeastern Iowa is now deemed a “slow-the-spread” area. State officials work in those areas to contain the spreading of gypsy moths to a maximum of 3 miles per year.

Jackson and Allamakee have been the only counties to undergo treatments this year.

Man loses legal bid to block planned wind energy project

WATERLOO, Iowa — A man who sued a Black Hawk County board has lost his bid to block a planned wind energy project.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that a judge affirmed last week that the county Board of Adjustment’s power and decision to issue a permit to Washburn Wind Energy. The company plans to erect 35 wind turbines east of Hudson.

Farmer Harold Youngblut’s lawsuit says the board’s April 2018 action violated the county’s zoning ordinance and amounted to an illegal “taking” of property because of the wind project’s potential effect on neighbors.

The $120 million project drew objections from nearby property owners concerned about its potential impact on their health, quality of life and property values. Project supporters have said it would generate clean energy and give farmers where the turbines would be placed new revenue to keep their farms viable.

Youngblut’s lawyer says he’ll probably appeal.

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