Farmers are the ultimate survivors. By definition, their work requires incredible planning, but it also requires creativity. This year, farmers have faced the test of limited summer rains, which have lowered the productivity of many farmers’ yields. With fall approaching, farmers have an opportunity to invest today for better outcomes next year by planting what are called “cover crops.” Not harvested like a main crop, cover crops are mowed to stay on top of the soil or disked in for soil improvements.
Cover crops offer a wide range of benefits: they “trap” nitrogen left behind by fertilizer in the field, which otherwise may be washed away over the winter. They conserve water, improve the quality of soil, suppress weeds, and control insect pests and erosion. Cover crops can also provide an excellent source of animal feed during periods when drought has reduced forage.
USDA science counts conservation research as an important area, so our scientists continually study cover crops, including timely focus on the impacts of drought stress to reduce potential losses in U.S. production capacity. Using a grant provided by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, researchers at Purdue University show that cover crops left on the soil surface after germination in spring will conserve soil moisture acting as a soil cover. This can increase crop yields in dry years and reduce year-to-year variability in yields. Read more »
Addison, a Kindergarten student at Matoaka Elementary School, makes friends with a new vegetable on Asparagus Day.
Matoaka Elementary School isn’t the biggest school, or the oldest. But it does have a Parent Teacher Association that takes student health very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that one committee is completely devoted to helping kids and families develop Healthy Lifestyles!
“There were a few PTA parents who started talking about how our school could be healthier,” said Tryna Fitzpatrick, “and we decided to survey families and find out what other parents were thinking.” Read more »
Norman Borlaug, who went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal attended this one-room school through the eighth grade.
On Friday, September 14 school buses lined the yard outside a one-room schoolhouse in rural Howard County, Iowa. More than 300 fifth grade students from area school districts had come to learn about Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug at the farm on which he was born and raised. Read more »
Stuffed mushrooms with breadcrumbs and cheese. This was one of our favorite recipes on the Mushroom Council website. This appetizer with very few ingredients is a great way to celebrate National Mushroom Month. Photo courtesy, Kelsey from the Naptime Chef, Mushroom Council website
Whether you eat them for their unique flavor or distinct texture, there are plenty of reasons why you should try mushrooms during National Mushroom Month. One thing is certain – you could spend the entire month of September finding different ways to enjoy mushrooms. Read more »
The ladder used to convict Bruno Hauptmann of kidnapping is seen here in a contemporary crime-scene photograph. Scientists at the Forest Products Laboratory were able to prove that one of the steps used in the ladder was from a plank of wood in Hauptmann’s attic. Forest Service photo.
In the early 1930’s, before the age of DNA and forensics, piecing together the evidence of a crime scene was a difficult task involving fingerprints (if you could get them), eyewitness accounts (if there were any), or a confession (not likely). Law enforcement had none of these as they tried to convict Bruno Hauptmann, the man they believed was guilty of what was then being called the “crime of the century”– the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby.
It was amid this national media frenzy that the U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Lab would in many ways introduce the concept of forensics into crime solving. Read more »
U.S. Pasture and Range Conditions as of September 16, 2012. Click to enlarge image.
The 2012 summer crop season is quickly winding down. By mid-September, more than three-quarters (76%) of the U.S. corn was fully mature and well over half (57%) of the soybeans were dropping leaves, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. More than one-quarter (26%) of the corn had already been harvested by September 16, a record-setting pace. As the growing season comes to an end, corn and soybean conditions (currently 50% and 36% very poor to poor, respectively) remain comparable to those observed during the 1988 drought. Read more »