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Special Bean Team Tackling World Hunger with Science

Packages of dry beans

USDA-ARS maintains a collection of dry beans obtained from around the globe and catalogued for important traits, like resistance to diseases and pests. USDA-ARS photo by Steve Ausmus.

2016 has been named “International Year of the Pulses” by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). The goal of the initiative is to educate consumers about the nutritional and other benefits of eating pulse crops, as well as to marshal the capabilities of agricultural research organizations around the world in developing new, improved varieties that will help further global food security and sustainable agriculture.

Pulses refer to the dry edible seed of certain leguminous plants—most notably dry beans (like kidney, pinto and navy beans), dry peas, lentils and chickpeas. Read more »

10 #USDAResults in Conservation and Forestry You Should Know

USDA Results: Caring for our Land, Air and Water graphic

USDA Results: Caring for our Land, Air and Water. Preserving Precious Natural Resources for Tomorrow.

At the beginning of this year, we launched a year-long reflection on USDA-wide results achieved over the course of this Administration. This week begins a month-long focus on seven years of USDA accomplishments to preserve our natural resources for tomorrow’s generations – accomplishments that have only been made possible with the hard work of our staff at USDA and the support of our steadfast partners.

I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to build lasting partnerships to care for our nation’s unparalleled public lands and support producers as they conserve our nation’s land, water and soil. Please take some time to read a full story of our results on my Medium page at: www.medium.com/usda-results. Read more »

SBIR Grantee’s Response to Killer Beetles: SPLAT!

Mountain Lake With Pine Beetle Damaged Forest

Mountain pine beetle infestation has devastated pine forests in western North America, creating vast areas of “dead-crown zombie trees.” (iStock image)

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at USDA offers competitively awarded grants to qualified small businesses to support high quality, advanced concepts research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefits.  The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers SBIR Phase I grants that are limited to $100,000 and a duration of 8 months, and Phase II grants of up to $500,000 and 24 months that are open only to Phase I awardees. Below is the first-hand account of NIFA-funded SBIR research from Agenor Mafra-Neto, President and CEO of ISCA Technologies, Inc.

It might sound like the subject of the lamest B-horror flick ever made, but for pine trees in western North America, it’s a true story—the plant world’s equivalent of a zombie plague that has destroyed an estimated 723 million cubic of timber on more than 17.5 million hectares of forested land.

All on account of a tiny mountain pine beetle (MPB), no larger than a single grain of rice. Read more »

Agricultural Research Needs to Be a Priority

Agronomist Edgar E. Hartwig with soybeans

Agricultural research means real results helping real people every day. Agronomist Edgar E. Hartwig has devoted half a century to soybeans research, developing productive plants with built-in resistance to insects, nematodes, and diseases. He is best known for commercial varieties that include Bragg, Lee, Forrest, Lamar, Sharkey, and most recently, Vernal. (USDA ARS photo by Keith Weller.)

Seeing President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal and the strong commitment it makes to agricultural research reminds me of Dr. Consuelo De Moraes.

As a university researcher and panel manager of the National Research Initiative (NRI) competitive grants program, I called Dr. De Moraes in 2002 to inform her that USDA was going to fund her research proposal on determining how plants defend themselves against insects, so farmers could exploit the same as a means to control pests. She screamed with happiness. Later I learned that people heard the scream throughout the building at Pennsylvania State University. After that, Dr. De Moraes went on to great acclaim as one of the leading insect researchers. Read more »

USDA Celebrates a Record of Conservation Successes

USDA Results tile

We're taking a look at how historic investments over seven years have helped USDA build lasting partnerships to care for our nation’s unparalleled public lands and support producers as they conserve our nation’s land, water and soil.

Throughout the last seven years, the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service have made great strides in conserving private working lands and our public lands for future generations. We have pioneered approaches to conservation that use incentives and partnerships to work with landowners across property boundaries and conserve watersheds, wildlife and large landscapes.  What’s more, USDA is demonstrating that conserving our natural resources creates economic opportunities for rural communities across the country.

Today, we are launching the second chapter of USDA Results, a progressive year-long storytelling effort of the Obama Administration’s work on behalf of those living, working and raising families in rural America.  This month’s chapter tells the story of how we are working to conserve our natural resources. Throughout February, we will be announcing new projects and highlighting the work we have done over the last seven years. Read more »

Accountant to Farmer: Finding Moisture in Dry Soil Conditions

Douglas Poole in front of his tractor

Douglas Poole is an evangelist who saved his own soil. Now he wants to help others save theirs. Photo: Jennifer Cole.

“Nothing motivates me quite like being told I can’t do something. They told me no-till doesn’t work here, and you’re not supposed to be able to grow any type of canola. Well, look around. Here we are.”

When Douglas Poole speaks, you can hear the passion in his voice for healthy soil and how it has helped his farm. Poole wasn’t always a soil health proponent; he used to be an accountant. Read more »