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South Carolina Conservation Partnership Buzzing About Pollinators

This wildflower field at Dirt Works Incubator Farm, on John’s Island, in Charleston, S.C., provides important habitat for pollinator species. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.

This wildflower field at Dirt Works Incubator Farm, on John’s Island, in Charleston, S.C., provides important habitat for pollinator species. Photo by Nikki Seibert, Lowcountry Local First.

Eighty-five percent of all flowering plants depend on pollinators, like bees and bats, to reproduce.

But these critical pollinators are in trouble as habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants are causing a decline of many species, including some of the more than 4,000 species of native bees in North America.

That’s why USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Carolina and the Xerces Society, with the support of a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant, are promoting the benefits of pollinators through hands-on workshops targeted to employees of NRCS, soil and water conservation districts, cooperative extension agents and many others involved in agricultural production. Read more »

Agroecology Program: Ag Research is More than Farming

Florida International University Agro-Ecology graduate student Thelma Velez, right, explains an agricultural research project to area high school students.

Florida International University Agro-Ecology graduate student Thelma Velez, right, explains an agricultural research project to area high school students.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Some say careers in agriculture are a thing of the past, but don’t tell that to Krish Jayachandran, a professor and co-director of Florida International University’s (FIU) Agroecology Program. He will tell you that agriculture is the wave of the future—and he is backing that statement with nearly a decade of work to ensure the next generation of agricultural scientists are ready.

“If we are going to feed more than 9 billion people in the future, we have to get creative in how we use our soil and water resources—not to mention our over-reliance on the same kind of germplasm decade after decade,” Jayachandran said. “I tell students that agriculture research is not farming, it is science and technology. It’s thinking about bio-geo-chemical processes and nutrient cycling; on-farm and off-farm remediation measures, surface and groundwater management, and bioenergy.” Read more »

NRCS Helps with Reforestation Efforts on a Scarred Tribal Landscape

Daniel Kessay, with the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s forestry department, and Jan Pertruzzi, with NRCS in Whiteriver, Ariz., review plans for ponderosa pine tree plantings. Photo by Beverly Moseley, NRCS.

Daniel Kessay, with the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s forestry department, and Jan Pertruzzi, with NRCS in Whiteriver, Ariz., review plans for ponderosa pine tree plantings. Photo by Beverly Moseley, NRCS.

From the top of Limestone Ridge, 6,000 feet up, the scars of a massive wildfire on Arizona’s White Mountain Apache Reservation in east central Arizona are still visible. As far as the eye can see are bare mountain ranges where century-old ponderosa pines once stood.

A decade ago, the Rodeo-Chediski fire burned more than 270,000 acres and an estimated 80 million trees, leaving behind few pine trees to help seed the beginnings of a new forest. Read more »