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Are You Curious About What Lies Beneath the Earth’s Surface? So Are We!

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, logs soil survey data into a computer at a soil survey site.

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, logs soil survey data into a computer at a soil survey site.

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, determines a soil profile. This information is available in the recently released soil survey.

Brien Park, Nevada NRCS soil scientist, determines a soil profile. This information is available in the recently released soil survey.

Those curious about what’s below the water’s surface don snorkeling gear and immerse themselves into the depths of the ocean. But what about discovering what lurks below the earth’s surface, under topsoil, trees, shrubs, rocks and plants? 

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) in Nevada is curious, too, and the agency’s soil scientists have finished unearthing what kind of soils lie beneath the surface in portions of central and eastern Nevada. Their findings are available to assist farmers, ranchers, land managers, homeowners or those just simply curious about what lies beneath. Read more »

NIFA Grant Programs Help Fuel Ag-related Job Boom

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.

The overall job market may go up and down, but things are definitely looking good in agricultural, environmental, and related fields. Read more »

Re-establishing Tribal Biodiversity through Agroforestry

 

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

Ron Reed of the Karuk Food Crew collects gooseberries. Photo credit: Colleen Rossier

 

The Karuk and Yurok Tribes traditionally managed entire watersheds and ecosystems on their ancestral lands to meet their dietary, cultural and spiritual needs. The Tribes are now working with University of California -Berkeley, University of California -Davis, the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to reestablish the once rich and bio-diverse ecology of their ancestral homeland forests and waterways using traditional agroforestry management systems.

“By putting fire back on the landscape, we intend to restore the currently wildfire-prone food desert into a healthy, bio-diverse, fruit, nut and wildlife-rich forest,” said Karuk Department of Natural Resources Director Leaf Hillman. Read more »

High Five for High Tunnels — Tool Brings Conservation, Fresh Produce to Detroit

Cynthia Brathwaite a loyal customer attends Wayne State University Market Day to purchase D-Town Farm’s fresh produce.

Cynthia Brathwaite a loyal customer attends Wayne State University Market Day to purchase D-Town Farm’s fresh produce.

Sherri Barnes, left, at D-Town Farm, harvest fresh vegetables from their high tunnel to sell at Wayne State University’s Market Day. At right, Kwamena Mensa her father before the market day begins to sell their fresh local produce.

Sherri Barnes, left, at D-Town Farm, harvest fresh vegetables from their high tunnel to sell at Wayne State University’s Market Day. At right, Kwamena Mensa her father before the market day begins to sell their fresh local produce.

The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm located in River Rouge Park produces farm-to-table produce using a conservation practice encouraged by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). By using seasonal high tunnels, the practice helps to address food security in the city.

High tunnels, or hoop houses, conserve resources while serving as a source for local food. They are plastic-covered structures that enable farmers to have crops ready earlier or later in the season. In high tunnels, plants are grown directly in the ground, and the temperature is regulated by opening or closing the plastic curtain sides and doors on the ends. Read more »

U.S. Forest Service Gets to the Heart of Wildland Firefighters

A crew of wildland firefighters begins their trek into a fire. Their specialty is wildfire suppression, but they sometimes perform other work, including search and rescue and disaster response assistance. (U.S. Forest Service)

A crew of wildland firefighters begins their trek into a fire. Their specialty is wildfire suppression, but they sometimes perform other work, including search and rescue and disaster response assistance. (U.S. Forest Service)

Morman Lake Hotshots check gear at a base camp. The backbone of U.S. Forest Service firefighting is the thousands of boots-on-the-ground men and women. (U.S. Forest Service)

Morman Lake Hotshots check gear at a base camp. The backbone of U.S. Forest Service firefighting is the thousands of boots-on-the-ground men and women. (U.S. Forest Service)

It takes a certain type of person to fight wildfires. It’s not what they look like. Or sound like. It’s not their heritage or their culture. It’s their heart.

 A seven-minute U.S. Forest Service recruitment video, “The Heart of a Firefighter,” takes viewers as close to being as firefighter as possible through a small screen. Read more »

Partnering for a Strong Rural Economy is a USDA Specialty

Partnering for a Strong Rural Economy is a USDA Specialty

Partnering for a Strong Rural Economy is a USDA Specialty

A strong rural economy benefits the whole nation. Sales of specialty crops – which include everything from fruits and vegetables to tree nuts, cut flowers and nursery crops – total nearly $65 billion per year.  The success of specialty crop farmers and businesses creates opportunities for new jobs and is critical to the rural economy. That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is partnering with states to support the hardworking American farmers who grow these products.

 This week Secretary Tom Vilsack announced millions of dollars in grant funding authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill, including $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) awarded by AMS.  The goal of the SCBG program is to promote and increase opportunities for specialty crop producers by supporting projects that create new business opportunities, boost productivity and improve food safety.  Every state department of agriculture receives a block grant that it can use to fund projects that support its specific priorities. This year’s specialty crop block grants fund 838 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories. 

Read more »