Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

A New Online Tool to Help Growers Select the Right Cover Crop

A cover crop mixture

A cover crop mixture that includes oat, proso millet, canola, sunflower, dry pea, soybean and pasja turnip. Photo by Mark Liebig, ARS.

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.

Whether you’re a home gardener or a commercial grower of vegetables, cotton, or other agricultural crops, as soon as the growing season is over, you may want to consider planting cover crops—grasses, legumes and small grains that protect and improve the soil.

Cover crops, which are typically grown off season, help reduce soil erosion, increase organic matter and control weeds. At the same time, they can lessen the effects of extreme weather conditions such as drought and help improve water and air quality as well as wildlife habitat. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Supports 2015 World Special Olympics

Smokey Bear and U.S. Forest Service employees pose for a picture with the South African team at the World Special Olympics

Smokey Bear and U.S. Forest Service employees pose for a picture with the South African team at the World Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Employees of the Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel Mountains National Monument were joined by employees and volunteers from national forests all over California to staff an informational booth on the University of Southern California campus, July 23 – Aug. 2. The booth helped inform athletes and spectators about the accessibility of national forests and monuments, while helping to spread the message of wildfire prevention.

A small but enthusiastic group of volunteers joined a famous bear and well-known owl to support an international competition attended by more than 100,000 people from all over the world. The U.S. Forest Service was a proud partner of the 2015 World Special Olympics in Los Angeles recently.

Employees of the Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel Mountains National Monument were joined by employees and volunteers from national forests all over California to staff an informational booth on the University of Southern California campus, July 23 – Aug. 2. The booth helped inform athletes and spectators about the accessibility of national forests and monuments, while helping spread the message of wildfire prevention. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Tyra Jonas

Tyra Jonas, Michigan State University

Tyra Jonas currently serves as the Michigan FFA State Reporter and is a freshman at Michigan State University.

Today in our Women’s Week blog series, we feature Tyra Jonas, a college freshman from the small town of Ravenna, Michigan where the smell of pickles and cheering from the football stadium isn’t uncommon. She is a freshman at Michigan State University studying agricultural communications. She currently serves as the Michigan FFA State Reporter and travels across Michigan to help members build their knowledge on agriculture and leadership qualities and tour many agriculture industries. Read more »

Recess Before Lunch – The Secret Ingredient of Montana’s School Lunch Program

Students sitting and eating their lunch with School Chef Jason Moore

After they’ve finished playing at recess, students sit and eat their lunch with School Chef Jason Moore in Gallatin Gateway, MT.

The following guest blog showcases Montana Team Nutrition and their excellent work implementing their Recess Before Lunch (RBL) program. Through this initiative Montana students enjoy active play right before indulging a nutritious school lunch meal allowing them to return to class ready for academic success.

By: Katie Bark, RD, LN, SNS (Project Director Montana Team Nutrition, Montana State University),  Christine Emerson, MS, RD, LN (State Director, School Nutrition Programs, Office of Public Instruction), and Molly Stenberg, RD, LN (Assistant Project Director, Montana Team Nutrition, Montana State University)

As USDA’s Team Nutrition celebrates its 20th anniversary, so does Montana Team Nutrition (MTTN)! Since 1995, MTTN has used funding from USDA to provide nutrition education and technical assistance to school districts across our state. Moreover, we’ve been innovators in our field, and one of our biggest accomplishments has been instituting a recess before lunch (RBL) culture in many of our schools. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Katy Coba

Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba in a store

Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba has a deep appreciation for the hard work Oregon’s farmers and ranchers do every day.

This week, USDA Deputy Secretary Harden begins her next generation of agriculture tour where she will visit with young leaders across the country to discuss the future of agriculture. Many groups, including women, veterans, minorities and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, are shaping an agricultural future that is looking to be more diverse than ever before and we want to share their stories. Every day this week, we will be sharing a story from a woman in agriculture that represents the past, present and future of our industry.

Today, we feature Katy Coba, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Katy was raised on her family’s wheat ranch in Eastern Oregon. She has a deep appreciation for the land and the hard work Oregon’s farmers and ranchers do every day. Katy has a long career in state government and shares her perspective on the current and future landscape of American agriculture (and how not to be left behind on a trade mission). Read more »

NRCS Volunteers Gain Experience and Help Further Conservation Efforts

Morgan Boggs, NRCS Earth Team volunteer in Browning, Montana

Morgan Boggs, NRCS Earth Team volunteer in Browning, Montana. Photo credit: NRCS Montana.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA) have partnered in a pilot project to provide new opportunities for Native American high school students across the west.

Morgan Boggs, a high school senior in Browning, Montana, was one of three Montana high school seniors selected by INCA. Through this pilot program, students sign up as NRCS Earth Team volunteers to work side-by-side with NRCS professionals. This on-the-job training increases the students’ qualifications for the USDA Pathways Internship Program, which employs college students working toward a degree in natural resources. Read more »