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What does Maple Syrup Have in Common with an Invasive Insect?

Two Asian longhorned beetles on maple tree

Two Asian longhorned beetles on maple tree

Today is National Maple Syrup Day!  So, what does maple syrup have in common with an invasive insect?  Well, if the insect is the Asian longhorned beetle, then they both can come from maple trees.  Obviously, we want the maple syrup and not the invasive beetle.  But who cares?  And why should anyone care?  Well, I care and here’s why:

Not only do I work for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency that is actively fighting known infestations of Asian longhorned beetle in three different states, but I also am a native of Vermont. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Hosts Visitors from the Jewish National Fund to Discuss Resource Management

(left to right): David Leffler, Director General, Ministry of Environmental Protection; Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF World Chairman; David Brand, KKL-JNF Chief Forester; Hadas Magen Molho, Head of International Relations for the Minister; Jane Leche, Public Affairs, U.S. Forest Service; Maribeth Gustafson, Deputy Regional Forester of Operations, U.S. Forest Service; Rene Reinhard, JNF Chief of Staff; (back right) Chris Soriano, International Programs, U.S. Forest Service; and Damian Rawoot, International Programs, U.S. Forest Service take in the views from 11,900 feet at the top of Loveland Pass. (U.S. Forest Service)

(left to right): David Leffler, Director General, Ministry of Environmental Protection; Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF World Chairman; David Brand, KKL-JNF Chief Forester; Hadas Magen Molho, Head of International Relations for the Minister; Jane Leche, Public Affairs, U.S. Forest Service; Maribeth Gustafson, Deputy Regional Forester of Operations, U.S. Forest Service; Rene Reinhard, JNF Chief of Staff; (back right) Chris Soriano, International Programs, U.S. Forest Service; and Damian Rawoot, International Programs, U.S. Forest Service take in the views from 11,900 feet at the top of Loveland Pass. (U.S. Forest Service)

In the late 1980s, Israel experienced one of its worst fire seasons ever. Devastating blazes ravaged the forested corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The U.S. Forest Service responded by sending a technical team to assess the damage and subsequently recommended future mitigation and management strategies. Thus, a cooperative exchange program between the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (JNF-KKL) and the U.S. Forest Service was born.

Earlier this fall, a team from the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, headed by Deputy Regional Forester Maribeth Gustafson, hosted a small group of guests from Israel. They included Minister of the Environment Amir Peretz; David Leffler, director general from the Ministry of Environmental Protection; Efi Stenzler, the JNF-KKL World Chairman; David Brand, the KKL Chief Forester, and four other staff members. Read more »

Discover the Cover: Farmers Realize Benefits, Challenges of Soil-Improving Cover Crops

Todd and Arliss Nielsen inspect their ryegrass cover crop in Wright County, Iowa. USDA photo.

Todd and Arliss Nielsen inspect their ryegrass cover crop in Wright County, Iowa. USDA photo.

A growing number of farmers throughout the nation have “discovered the cover” — and for some very good reasons.

They’re recognizing that by using cover crops and diverse rotations, it’s possible to actually improve the health and function of their soil, said David Lamm, a soil health expert with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Farmers are also reaping the benefits healthy soils bring to their operations in the form of better nutrient cycling, improved water infiltration and more consistent yields over time. Read more »

Kitty Litter: Potential New Use for Spent Corn Grains

ARS scientists have developed a nearly 100 percent biodegradable kitty litter made from dried distiller's grains, left over from corn-ethanol production.

ARS scientists have developed a nearly 100 percent biodegradable kitty litter made from dried distiller's grains, left over from corn-ethanol production.

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.

Sometimes, the results of USDA science show up in the most unlikely places—maybe even in your cat’s litter box.

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have discovered a way to make kitty litter that’s nearly 100 percent biodegradable by processing spent grains left over from corn ethanol production.

And what’s good for you and your cat may also be good for the environment. ARS researcher Steven F. Vaughn and his colleagues have shown that litter made with these grains as the starting material may prove to be more environmentally friendly than popular but nonbiodegradable, clay-based litters that mostly end up in landfills. Read more »

Science that Sells

New certification programs could open market opportunities in the European Union, Russia, China and others.

New certification programs could open market opportunities in the European Union, Russia, China and others.

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.

Agriculture is key to any nation’s success.  American farmers continue to be more innovative and productive, providing affordable foods for the U.S. consumer while supporting a robust export market. Global agricultural trade is complex, constantly changing, with multi-layered requirements that have to be met before a grower can get his product into another country.

Although a general export certificate is issued for most agricultural products, some countries require certification based on scientific testing.  USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service provides the service and scientific expertise that helps American farmers export their products. Read more »