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Maryland Dairy Farmers Work to Improve the Health of Estuaries

Dairy farmers Matt and Debbie Hoff with their daughters Courtney, Brook and Alicia

Dairy farmers Matt and Debbie Hoff with their daughters Courtney, Brook and Alicia. Photo credit: Genevieve Lister.

Producing high quality, nutritious milk may be a top priority for Coldsprings Farm, but it is not the farm’s only accomplishment. Nestled between the rolling acres and lush green meadows of New Windsor, Maryland, lies a showcase of a dairy farm where owners Matt and Debbie Hoff are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to reduce runoff of nutrients and sediment, leading to cleaner water downstream.

This is especially important, as Coldsprings Farm sits amid the Monocacy watershed, which eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Read more »

Taking Broadband to the Next Level

A technician installing cables at Pine Net Telephone and internet stations

A technician installs cables at Pine Net Telephone and internet stations. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Getting broadband to unserved rural areas is one of the toughest challenges we face. It’s far easier to make a business case to serve 500 people per square mile than it is where there are only five people per square mile. Broadband is expensive to deploy through hundreds of miles of countryside, including mountains, canyons, forests and deserts. But that’s our challenge.

The Broadband Opportunity Council report the White House released today lays the groundwork to build on the tremendous success of deploying broadband under the Recovery Act, which helped USDA and the Commerce Department expand essential broadband service nationwide. Yet even with this historical investment, we have much more to do. Read more »

It’s Autumn in America

Trees in front of hills

With the Yonder app you can post pictures in real time.

One of the greatest natural events in the world is starting to change — change colors that is. The brilliant colors on the leaves of millions of trees are about to make you look up in awe and the U.S. Forest Service wants folks to get outside and experience it this Fall.

This year the Forest Service’s 2015 Fall Colors webpage has something unique to help those wanting to visit our national forests and grasslands experience the grace and glory of autumn just about everywhere in America. It’s a downloadable app called Yonder and it’s designed for sharing outdoors experiences on your smart phone for all the world to see. Read more »

Did You Spot the Beetle?

Staff from the ALB Ohio Eradication Program with the wrapped Volkswagen beetle

Staff from the ALB Ohio Eradication Program with the wrapped Volkswagen beetle.

…the Volkswagen beetle that is. You might have if you were in Ohio the last few weeks. 

As part of the efforts to raise awareness about the invasive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), a non-native insect originating from Asia that is attacking and killing out native U.S. trees, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wrapped a Volkswagen beetle to look like Asian longhorned beetle.  The moving advertisement was part of a campaign meant to help inform residents about the beetle infestation in Ohio. Read more »

Open Data: a Key to Feeding 9 Billion People by 2050

NPR’s “The Takeaway” program recently examined the “The Biggest Challenges Facing America and the World.” The episode included an interview with USDA Chief Scientist and Undersecretary Catherine Woteki on the challenge of being able to feed a world population that is estimated to reach more than 9 billion people by the year 2050.

On behalf of USDA, Dr. Woteki played a key role in the formation of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), an international organization which supports efforts to make agricultural and nutritional data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide. She said harvesting such data could be a key to harvesting enough future crops to meet future challenges. Read more »

Wildfire Smoke Monitors Working to Reduce Health and Safety Impacts

A Environmental Beta Attenuation Monitor in a forest

Environmental Beta Attenuation Monitors (E-BAMs) are portable particulate monitoring stations. They are one technological tool used to monitor smoke. They can transmit their data via satellite to a central location for analysis. USFS photo.

Smoke from wildfires can have an enormous impact on the public and on fire personnel, affecting health, interfering with transportation safety and upsetting tourism and local economies.

Trent Procter, like all U.S. Forest Service Air Resource Advisors, is a technical specialist with expertise in air quality science, including: air quality monitoring, smoke modeling, pollutant health thresholds and communicating about smoke risks and mitigation. Read more »