Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Category: Conservation

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Other Species Benefit from Riparian Restoration Work in Utah

Southwestern willow flycatcher

The Southwestern willow flycatcher is an endangered bird that lives in the riparian areas of the Southwest. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo.

Jim Hook, owner of the Recapture Lodge and volunteer firefighter in Bluff, Utah, has been working for years to manage and restore the riparian habitat on his property along the San Juan River in southeast Utah.

Where the Cottonwood Creek and the San Juan River meet, Hook is working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to establish healthy riparian habitat. His hard work over the years has begun to yield results as the invasive plants have begun to die and native plants are taking their place. An endangered bird species, the Southwestern willow flycatcher, is one of the species that will benefit from his restoration work. Read more »

No-Till and Cover Crops from a Farmer’s Point of View

Jamie Scott participated in a roundtable on climate change and agriculture with USDA Secretary Vilsack in East Lansing, Michigan on April 23rd, 2015. Mr. Scott is the Chairman of the Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District and currently serves as the Vice-President of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Alongside my father Jim, I operate JA Scott Farms. Together we grow approximately 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in Kosciusko County, Indiana. One-hundred percent of those acres are planted using a no-till conservation cropping system that incorporates cover crops every winter.

We use this approach to take advantage of the soil health benefits of no-till and cover crops. We have higher yields, richer soil, and improved water holding capacity. I am also encouraged that these practices can remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. We have found that these benefits outweigh the added expense of labor and cover crop seeds. Read more »

The Earth Day Confessions of a Soil Health Geek

Unlock the Secrets in the Soil graphic

Farmers throughout the country are growing a new hope in healthy soil, which is cause for celebration on Earth Day 2015. Illustration by Catherine Ulitsky, NRCS.

I am a soil health geek.

I didn’t seek to become a geek. But the more I learned about our living and life-giving soil, the more I became convinced this miracle under our feet holds the promise of our future.

We are all connected to the soil. Without it, life as we know it would not exist. However, for years it was believed that the best hope for our precious soil was to slow its rate of erosion—to retard its inevitable decline. Read more »

Bi-State Sage-Grouse Success Shows Importance of Voluntary Conservation Partnerships

Front view of a bi-state sage-grouse

Bi-State sage-grouse live at the California-Nevada border, and biologists estimate that between 1,800 and 7,400 of these ground-dwelling birds inhabit about 4.5 acres of sagebrush habitat. Bureau of Land Management photo.

We can achieve more when we voluntarily work together, and the decision today not to list the Bi-State sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act proves the power of partnerships. In this case, collectively, we were able to proactively conserve and restore habitat for this geographically distinct sage-grouse.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service works with conservation partners and ranchers in Nevada and California to take steps to benefit sage-grouse habitat while also helping ranchers improve their ranching operations. Meanwhile, this work helps connect public lands like national forests, where U.S. Forest Service is working to restore habitat, too. Read more »

Crop Insurance and Conservation Compliance

Just-picked green zucchini squash waits to be loaded onto a processing trailer at Kirby Farms in Mechanicsville, VA.

Just-picked green zucchini squash waits to be loaded onto a processing trailer at Kirby Farms in Mechanicsville, VA. Kirby Farms is a third-generation family farm that covers 500 acres and generates produce and grains on a year-around operation. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Crop insurance has long been an important part of the farm safety net, providing a reliable and cost-effective risk management tool that ensures farmers can continue to farm even after tough years. Just as important is the planning and good stewardship of the land that farmers perform to ensure a sustainable food supply.

USDA has a long standing mission of helping people help the land. USDA provides assistance to producers with farm-level natural resource assessments and conservation planning as well as financial and technical assistance through a variety of voluntary conservation programs. USDA also provides the technical services necessary to implement conservation compliance provisions. Read more »

USDA and Landowners Work Together to Overcome Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Conservation Work in the Gulf States, fiscal years 2010-2014 conservation map.

Tens of thousands of farmers in the five Gulf states have put conservation practices on more than 22 million acres from fiscal years 2010-2014. Click to watch video.

In a time of need, America’s private landowners voluntarily made conservation improvements to their land to aid recovery following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico region. Landowners are working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to put conservation systems to work on their farms, ranches and forests that clean and conserve water, boost soil health and restore habitat – all while making their working lands more resilient.

Since 2010, tens of thousands have made conservation improvements to more than 22 million acres in the five Gulf states during fiscal years 2010-2014.

“Landowners are really interested and committed to doing good things on their lands, said Wesley Kerr, NRCS area conservationist in southern Mississippi. Read more »