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Category: Conservation

Conservation Programs Help Nebraska Farmer Install, Improve Irrigation System

Center pivot irrigation systems use less water and are more efficient at uniformly distributing water across a field. NRCS photo by Jacob Robison.

Center pivot irrigation systems use less water and are more efficient at uniformly distributing water across a field. NRCS photo by Jacob Robison.

As a little girl, Mary Kay Lyon followed her father around their south central Nebraska farm always dreaming of one day owning the operation herself. Lyon left the farm to attend college, but eventually made it back home when her father retired, determined to run the family farm.

“I wanted to farm since I was old enough to walk,” Lyon said.

Lyon grows corn and soybeans and raises cattle on the farm. Upon her return, she immediately began looking for ways to make improvements. Their crops have always been watered through an irrigation system, but Lyon knew improvements were needed on the old water delivery system. Read more »

Vanished Rabbit Reappears on Central California’s Dos Rios Ranch

The riparian brush rabbit is state and federally endangered, with all known populations in the northern San Joaquin Valley facing significant threat of extinction. Declines of brush rabbits have largely been attributed to loss of habitat. Photo courtesy USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

The riparian brush rabbit is state and federally endangered, with all known populations in the northern San Joaquin Valley facing significant threat of extinction. Declines of brush rabbits have largely been attributed to loss of habitat. Photo courtesy USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

Some exciting news recently came from a large wetlands restoration project now underway in Central California. River Partners, a nonprofit conservation organization, documented the first occurrence of a state and federally endangered rabbit on its habitat preserve at Dos Rios Ranch, a key piece of riverfront habitat located at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers in Stanislaus County.

Thanks to a generous loan of wildlife cameras from a professor at the University of California, Davis, River Partners’ summer interns captured images of riparian brush rabbits at Dos Rios Ranch in July in remnant riparian habitat along the Tuolumne River. Riparian brush rabbits are a critically endangered subspecies of rabbit that was thought to be extinct following catastrophic flooding in 1997. Read more »

From Scientist to Farmer, Today’s Agriculture Producers Come from All Walks of Life

Richard McGinley farms 950 acres fulltime in central Florida.  According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming. NRCS photo.

Richard McGinley farms 950 acres fulltime in central Florida. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming. NRCS photo.

In the past, full-time farmers were the norm and children of farmers followed in their parent’s footsteps. That’s not the case today. Now, data from the Census of Agriculture show more than half of Florida’s principal farm operators report primary occupations other than farming.

Richard McGinley is a good example of today’s Florida farmer. He spent his early years living the city life until his dad moved the family to Ocala, located in central Florida, to begin farming. But McGinley had other interests that took him far from farming. He established a career in the nuclear industry and even started his own consulting business. Read more »

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 »