Drip irrigation is a system used to deliver slow, precise application of water and nutrients to a plant roots zone. This system maintains an optimum moisture level within the root zones, efficiently conserving water and helps prevent runoff while providing the proper balance of water and air needed for successful plant growth. USDA photo by Alice Welch.
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 profile.
Have you ever heard the saying, “In God we trust, all others bring data?” Those are the words of William Edwards Deming, a distinguished American statistician and researcher. As an agricultural statistician at USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), collecting and distributing reliable data are the most important things I do. The data we provide help shape many key decisions about all sorts of things related to agriculture, including conservation practices.
But I don’t only collect and distribute data. I get to administer the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) survey – something I’m especially proud of. CEAP is a major project led by our sister agency the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The results of the survey contribute to a first-hand look into how operators maintain agricultural lands for tomorrow. This insight is so important because soil erosion, climate change, water shortages, and feeding ever-increasing populations are common concerns today. Read more »
Utah State Conservationist Dave Brown, standing beside NRCS Assistant Chief Kirk Hanlin, discusses the impact of watershed investments in Utah. (NRCS photo)
In the 1950s and 60s USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), working with state, local governments and partners, designed and built many dams across the United States for flood and sediment control and water storage. Many of these dams are coming to the end of their design life.
In early April, I traveled up the American Fork Canyon in Utah to Tibble Fork Dam to announce Utah would be receiving nearly $30 million dollars to rehabilitate aging dams. Read more »
Farmers and ranchers were among the first to practice conservation. It’s not surprising when you think about it. They’ve always understood the importance of caring for our land and water, and they depend on our natural resources for their livelihoods. They’re at the forefront of our country’s efforts to keep the land healthy, productive and resilient. And we’re proud to partner with them in that effort.
This year, we’re celebrating two more conservation milestones: the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), one of the largest private lands conservation programs in the nation; and registering the 1 millionth acre in CRP’s State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative. Read more »
Senator Patrick Leahy, (left, at podium) speaks at a commemoration on Capitol Hill of this year’s 25th anniversary of the Forest Legacy Program and other initiatives that help states and communities conserve forest land. The Senator authored forest conservation programs that he first included in the 1990 Farm Bill, when he chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Photo courtesy of Jay Tilton, office of Senator Leahy.
Patrick Leahy is Vermont’s senior U.S. senator and led in authoring forest conservation programs that he first included in the 1990 Farm Bill, when he chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Robert Bonnie is USDA’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment. This week they headed a commemoration on Capitol Hill of this year’s 25th anniversary of the Forest Legacy Program and other initiatives that help states and communities conserve forest land. Wayne Maloney, Office of Communications
Twenty-five years ago, the Senate’s 1990 Leahy-Lugar Farm Bill authorized the creation of three pivotal forestry programs that today are a resounding success. The Forest Legacy, Forest Stewardship and Urban and Cooperative Forestry Programs help private and state forest landowners keep their forests healthy. That in turn supports tens of thousands of jobs, benefiting rural and urban communities across the nation. This week we joined in a celebration in the Capitol Hill Visitors Center marking this milestone. Read more »
A group of students build a mini-filtration system. NRCS photo.
Although it’s no longer her job, Anna Miller still takes time to volunteer for the Lee County Water Festival every spring in Auburn, Alabama. The annual event has attracted hundreds of fourth graders with lessons on aquifers, the water cycle and water filtration, since it first began in 2004.
“Students learn about their environment; they learn about water and how precious it is,” said Miller. Read more »
USDA's Economic Research Service, and other researchers, analyzed the similarities and differences of the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltic Sea to help preserve the water quality of each.
Situated on two different continents and separated by thousands of miles, the Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast of the United States and the Baltic Sea in northern Europe face remarkably similar problems. Both are relatively shallow basins of brackish water. Both marine areas suffer from eutrophication–pollution caused by introduction of chemical nutrients. For both water bodies, agriculture is the single most important source of those nutrients, and governments have implemented policies to reduce nutrient loads and improve marine ecosystems.
Researchers at the Natural Resources Institute Finland, USDA’s Economic Research Service, and the University of Helsinki have analyzed the similarities and differences between the institutional settings and protection policies of the Chesapeake Bay and the Baltic Sea. The aim was to identify avenues for reducing the cost of meeting water quality objectives. The very different political and institutional histories of the jurisdictions within the respective watersheds provide both contrasts and similarities. The six U.S. States in the Chesapeake watershed have a common political history and operate under Federal environmental law. The Baltic watershed is made up of 14 nations whose intergovernmental relations are strongly influenced by Cold War legacies. Yet current policies in both watersheds rely heavily on voluntary approaches to control agricultural runoff. Read more »