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Posts tagged: ARS

A Giant Crop-Scanner Is Turning Heads in Arizona

A giant electronic scanner in Maricopa, Arizona

ARS scientists and their partners are using a giant electronic scanner in Maricopa, Arizona to study the growth characteristics of sorghum plants as part of a project designed to speed biofuel crop development. Photo by Jeffrey White, Agricultural Research Service.

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.

With its 30-ton frame and 50-foot-high catwalk, the newest scanner for measuring crop plants in Maricopa, Arizona, can be seen for miles. It looms over a tract the length of two football fields and moves along steel rails.

“When people saw this big apparatus being built here, they started asking if we were going to be looking for space aliens,” says Jeffrey W. White, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist with the Arid-Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa. Rather than studying the heavens, the scanner is measuring the individual characteristics of thousands of energy sorghum plants growing underneath it. The effort could play an outsized role in meeting the Nation’s future energy needs. Read more »

September: A Nice Time to Celebrate Rice Research

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods with a special display of rice products

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods, Stuttgart, Arkansas, presents a special display of rice products to celebrate National Rice Month.

September is National Rice Month, and the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, is well positioned—literally and figuratively—to support the production, harvest, and public enjoyment of this versatile and nutritious grain. And on the world-food security front, ARS’ Stuttgart center is closing in on genes that regulate rice’s uptake and storage of iron, thiamine and other important vitamins and minerals—a pursuit that could bolster the nutritional value of this cereal grain crop as a staple food for roughly half the world’s population.

In the United States, nearly 85 percent of the rice eaten by consumers is grown on family-run farms across six States:  Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Of these, Arkansas produces about half of all U.S. rice on nearly 1.3 million acres of cropland. Read more »

2016 GODAN Summit: A Large Display of USG Support for Agriculture and Nutrition Open Data

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the GODAN Summit 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (third from right at center table) participated in a high-level meeting at the United Nations as part of the two-day GODAN Summit 2016. The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative (GODAN) meeting was the largest ever event dedicated to open data in agriculture and nutrition, convening over 750 attendees including world leaders, researchers, farmers, students and others – public, private and non-profit - united around a collaboration on agriculture and nutrition data openness. Photo credit: Perry Bindeglass

Open agriculture and nutrition data is a powerful tool for long-term sustainable development.  The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative – comprising more than 350 international organizations representing governments, donors, businesses, and not-for-profits – continues to be a leader in advocating for the adoption of open data policies.  GODAN’s focus on opening agriculture and nutrition data as a mechanism to support sustainable development has the potential to solve longstanding global food security challenges.

As a founding partner of GODAN, the United States Government (USG) has implemented policy to support the creation of open data resources and provided technical support to make open data work for agriculture and nutrition—through the release of open data sets, through the development of standards that allow different types of data sets to be integrated with one another, and through the creation of new databases to house open data.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has served as the U.S. Government lead on the GODAN initiative since its creation in 2013, and has been highly involved in open data efforts. Read more »

Knowledge and Passion: A Student Intern’s Perspective

National Scholar Atiya Stewart

National Scholar Atiya Stewart cultivated her passions through internships.

I’m not sure that there are many 1890 National Scholar interns who are “ambassadors” of their university and who are planning a career in farming. But then, I never considered myself an average student. My experience during my undergraduate years perhaps is not typical. Not only was I a USDA 1890 National Scholar, but I also served as the “queen” of my university all while maintaining a 3.5 cumulative grade point average.

Though I never envisioned myself at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, my undergraduate experience has taught me that it doesn’t matter where you attend school. What matters is how hard you work, getting an education and taking advantage of opportunities. The most important opportunities that I made sure I’d take advantage of as an undergraduate student were internships, which I believe are imperative for students to undertake prior to graduating. Read more »

Saving Florida’s Citrus Industry Through Collaboration and Innovation

A thermotherapy truck covering infected citrus trees

Thermotherapy trucks cover infected citrus trees with a canopy to heat treat them significantly reducing the amount of disease in the trees and increasing their productivity.

The Florida citrus industry is under siege and the invader is a tiny bug called the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP).  The ACP spreads a disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening, and together they are destroying groves that have been cultivated by families for generations.

But all is not lost.  USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with State and Federal partners such as the Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as State departments of agriculture and the citrus industry in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas to develop short-term solutions to help protect groves while researchers focus on longer-term projects that may one day put an end to this devastating pest and disease combo. Read more »

Report: Maintaining Sagebrush-Covered Landscapes Keeps Water on the Land for Ranchers and Wildlife

Sage grouse

Sage grouse are the iconic species of the West’s sagebrush sea. Photo by Tim Griffiths, NRCS.

Removing invading conifer trees improves the health of sagebrush ecosystems, providing better habitat for wildlife and better forage for livestock. And now, new science shows these efforts may also help improve late-season water availability, which is crucial for ecosystems in the arid West.

According to the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI)’s newest Science to Solutions report – which summarized research from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) – a sagebrush-dominated watershed holds water in snow drifts an average of nine days longer than one dominated by juniper trees. Read more »