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Interactive Online Tool Teaches Users About Climate Change

Screenshot of the climate change science and modeling education module explaining the greenhouse gas effect. Without the natural greenhouse gas effect, the average temperature of the planet would be about zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Screenshot of the climate change science and modeling education module explaining the greenhouse gas effect. Without the natural greenhouse gas effect, the average temperature of the planet would be about zero degrees Fahrenheit.

As we celebrate Earth Day and think about ways to protect our environment, we cannot ignore the dramatic effects that climate change is having on our planet.

To help the U.S. Forest Service respond to a changing climate, the Climate Change Resource Center, an online portal to credible, relevant and timely information focused on forest management responses to climate change, recently released a new education resource on basic climate change science and climate modeling. Read more »

Earth Day 2014: The Hope in Healthy Soil

Conservation tillage practices like no-till allow farmers to plant cash crop seeds with little disturbance to the soil, which protects the habitat for billions of the soil’s microorganisms. NRCS photo.

Conservation tillage practices like no-till allow farmers to plant cash crop seeds with little disturbance to the soil, which protects the habitat for billions of the soil’s microorganisms. NRCS photo.

For years, it was believed that a certain amount of cropland soil erosion was inevitable. But by using conservation techniques like cover crops, no-till and diverse crop rotations, an increasing number of farmers are proving that we can actually build our soils and, in some instances, increase soil organic matter by as much as 3-4 percent.

In the process, these farmers are using less energy, maintaining or increasing production and improving their bottom lines. And that’s a reason to celebrate today—Earth Day 2014. Read more »

Experience Earth Day with USDA

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches 2,175 miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Hikers who choose to explore the entire stretch will go through 14 states and on eight national forests. (U.S. Forest Service)

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches 2,175 miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Hikers who choose to explore the entire stretch will go through 14 states and on eight national forests. (U.S. Forest Service)

Earth Day is a reminder that some of our best moments can be spent in the great outdoors.

Getting outside is one of the best ways to feel re-invigorated, whether on a short hike to the Crags Trail on Pike National Forest or on a longer exploration of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail, which winds through 14 states and across eight national forests.

The range of outdoor activities run the gamut from hiking, camping, boating, bird watching, and experiencing wildlife to photographing nature, hunting and fishing. Read more »

Decades of Research Show Increased Sustainability for American Agriculture

The Pioneers of Progress booklet illustrates how U.S. cotton has increased sustainability over the last 4 decades.  The original cover art was inspired by vintage almanacs, acknowledging the heritage of the U.S. cotton industry. Image courtesy Cotton Inc.

The Pioneers of Progress booklet illustrates how U.S. cotton has increased sustainability over the last 4 decades. The original cover art was inspired by vintage almanacs, acknowledging the heritage of the U.S. cotton industry. Image courtesy Cotton Inc.

U.S. agricultural producers have been engaged in sustainable farming practices for many years as an inherent part of their work.  They need the environment to flourish and thrive in order to continue producing the foods we eat and the materials we use.  Agricultural research and promotion groups, with oversight from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), allow producers and businesses across a commodity industry to pool their expertise and resources in order to help create new markets and invest in research.  The research they conduct helps improve production, discover new uses, and plays an important part in helping their industry identify and adopt sustainable practices. Read more »

Celebrating Our Glorious Planet

Map of USDA’s Long-Term Agro-ecosystem Research (LTAR) sites and farm resource regions.

Map of USDA’s Long-Term Agro-ecosystem Research (LTAR) sites and farm resource regions.

During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine. For example, finding sustainable ways to produce food for Americans and the growing global population.

Today is Earth Day, which gives us the opportunity to celebrate the magnificence of our planet.  It’s a day to observe and support our environmental commitment to our planet now and in the future.

USDA scientists play an important role in protecting our environment.  Much of our research is focused on finding sustainable agricultural solutions to producing food, feed and fiber to meet our nation’s and the world’s ever-growing demand.  We develop environmentally friendly practices that farmers, ranchers, and others involved in food production can integrate into their operations. Read more »

Los Angeles Soil Survey Unearths Cradle of the City

Kit Paris and Randy Riddle with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are taking soil samples in downtown Los Angeles. (NRCS photo)

Kit Paris and Randy Riddle with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are taking soil samples in downtown Los Angeles. (NRCS photo)

It has been 88 years since the hammers and crowbars went silent. Sweat ran for more than a month as teams of workers smashed and destroyed Los Angeles’s original buildings between First, Temple, Spring and Main streets.

Construction began in the 1850s, and these buildings quickly became known as the cradle for an infant city. The footprint is now buried deep below present day Los Angeles City Hall and its adjacent park. It was not until March 2014 that local historians were reminded of this past for the second largest city in the United States.

It started last fall when a soil survey team from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) began to dig a soil pit in City Hall Park adjacent to city hall, as part of the agency’s soil survey. Read more »