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Category: Conservation

Kentucky Jail Uses a High Tunnel to Grow Fresh Food

NRCS staff discuss soil health efforts with Hopkins County jailer Joe Blue, right, and Deputy Jailer Billy Thomas and the jail’s gardener. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

NRCS staff discuss soil health efforts with Hopkins County jailer Joe Blue, right, and Deputy Jailer Billy Thomas and the jail’s gardener. NRCS photo by Christy Morgan.

Kentucky Jailer Joe Blue is passionate about rehabilitating inmates. Innovative ideas for teaching new skills are always on his mind, which is how the Hopkins County jail’s gardening program was started.

The Kentucky jail sits on several acres and has a large farm just across the street. As Blue was walking around the property one day, he looked across the street and thought: “What’s the difference in that land and our land? Why can’t we grow our own food here?” Read more »

What Most People Don’t Realize is Behind Their Thanksgiving Dinner

After composting, the leftover animal materials and waste are no longer recognizable. Instead, they become healthy, organic fertilizer. NRCS photo courtesy Analia Bertucci.

After composting, the leftover animal materials and waste are no longer recognizable. Instead, they become healthy, organic fertilizer. NRCS photo courtesy Analia Bertucci.

You can picture it now, can’t you? The familiar sounds of a parade or football game playing on the TV while little ones chase each other through the house. More friends and family members than you can ever remember in one place at the same time. And the aroma … those delightful smells that let you know it’s a holiday.

You see the table surrounded by mismatched chairs, dinnerware and cutlery. And on that table, neatly decorated with the rich colors of the season, sit bowls filled with traditional fare and in the center of it all, the pièce de résistance – the golden brown bird around which the entire meal is built. Turkey. The year’s most prestigious meal! Read more »

Decrease Wildfire Risks by Choosing the Right Plants

A grass fire burns across eastern Washington.

A grass fire burns across eastern Washington.

Land begins to recover one year after emergency reseeding following the Los Alamos fires in New Mexico. Some of the species planted for erosion control and habitat improvement were prairie junegrass, slender wheatgrass, mountain brome, three awn, gambel's oak and mountain mahogany.

Land begins to recover one year after emergency reseeding following the Los Alamos fires in New Mexico. Some of the species planted for erosion control and habitat improvement were prairie junegrass, slender wheatgrass, mountain brome, three awn, gambel's oak and mountain mahogany.

Traveling at speeds up to 14 mph, wildfires can quickly ravish landscapes and homesteads. Experts with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) are studying what plants can slow fire rather than fuel it.

NRCS’ Plant Materials Centers evaluate and study plants, including those that can reduce fire damage or losses, helping keep people, property and natural resources safe. These centers, located across the United States, can provide information on the type plant best suited for an area given factors such as geography and climate. Read more »

Iowa – the Land of Corn and Soybeans (and More!)

Farmers in The Hawkeye State produced more than $17.3 billion worth of crops in 2012 and lead the nation in acres planted to corn. Check back next Thursday as we take a look at another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Farmers in The Hawkeye State produced more than $17.3 billion worth of crops in 2012 and lead the nation in acres planted to corn. Check back next Thursday as we take a look at another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

If you take a drive through Iowa, there is no way you can miss our beautiful farms all around you. With the most recent Census of Agriculture counting more than 30.6 million acres of land dedicated to farming, agriculture is truly at the core of Iowa.

Iowa farmers produced more than $17.3 billion worth of crops in 2012, with corn and soybeans making up the largest portion of the state’s agriculture. Our farmers have been leading the nation in production of these two key crops for decades. In 2012, Iowa growers tended to more than 13.7 million acres of corn and more than 9.3 million acres of soybean fields, ranking number one in the nation.  Read more »

Producers get a New Revenue Source, Waterfowl Habitat is Preserved and Industry Benefits from Conservation Effort

General Motors Global Public Policy Executive Director Greg Martin speaks at a press conference announcing the completion of the first-of-its kind purchase of verified carbon credits generated on working ranch lands by Chevrolet, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. (L to R Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), General Motors Global Public Policy Executive Director Greg Martin, Ducks Unlimited Paul Schmidt, The Climate Trust Executive Director Sean Penrith, and USDA Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Under Secretary Robert Bonnie). USDA photo by Tom Witham.

General Motors Global Public Policy Executive Director Greg Martin speaks at a press conference announcing the completion of the first-of-its kind purchase of verified carbon credits generated on working ranch lands by Chevrolet, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. (L to R Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), General Motors Global Public Policy Executive Director Greg Martin, Ducks Unlimited Paul Schmidt, The Climate Trust Executive Director Sean Penrith, and USDA Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Under Secretary Robert Bonnie). USDA photo by Tom Witham.

Earlier this week, USDA highlighted the creation of a market for carbon credits generated on working grasslands. Landowners benefit because they receive compensation for the carbon credits generated on their lands. They get a new source of revenue, while thriving grasslands provide nesting habitat for wildlife, are more resilient to extreme weather, and help mitigate the impact of climate change. Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, recently purchased almost 40,000 carbon dioxide reduction tons generated on working ranch grasslands in the Prairie Pothole region of North Dakota. It was the first purchase of its type. 

Robert Bonnie, USDA’s under secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, announced the purchase and USDA’s involvement in the project at an event at USDA headquarters. He was joined by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Greg Martin, executive director for global public policy, General Motors; Sean Penrith, executive director of The Climate Trust and Paul Schmidt, chief conservation officer of Ducks Unlimited. The under secretary thanked Senator Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, for her staunch support for the program, which she said is delivering “real world measurable results.” Bonnie said he hopes this purchase will set a pattern for future carbon credit sales. Read more »

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 »