These two soil samples are the same soil type. The one on the left is after 11 years of continuous no-till farming. The one on the right is conventional tillage.
No-till farming used to be only about reducing soil erosion. Today, continuous no-till is the preferred tillage system in some areas. Why? It’s all about soil health.
The loss of organic matter in soil, which is the lightest soil component and the first to wash away, is the healthiest portion of our topsoil. It is the house where the biological systems in our soils live and includes everything from the tiniest organisms like bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa to the more complex nematodes, micro-arthropods (think tiny spiders), and the more visible earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, and plants. They are all part of healthy soil. Read more »
Becoming a certified organic producer presents a unique set of restrictions and challenges. Oregon Farmer Chris Roehm overcomes those challenges with the help of a powerful ally: healthy soil. Photo by Bob Stobaugh
For agricultural producers, it’s an age-old question: How do you grow the largest, healthiest, most-profitable crops possible? Oregon organic farmer Chris Roehm says the secret is in the soil.
Co-owner and operator of Square Peg Farm in Forest Grove, Roehm is among a growing number of producers, both conventional and organic, who are realizing the benefits of improving the health and function of their soil through working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »
Cows graze on a farm in Upper Marlboro, MD.
“Who better to share the benefits of intensive rotational grazing than farmers who are actually doing it on their lands?” asked Beth L. McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Water Quality Scientist.
Intensive grazing systems, a type of rotational grazing that uses higher per acre stocking rates in smaller grazing or pasture units, can provide multiple benefits for farmers and the environment. These systems can help maintain and enhance farm profitability while reducing labor and input costs. Compared to more traditional confinement operations, intensive grazing can result in improved soil health, an increase in sequestered carbon and decreased emissions of other greenhouse gases. Read more »
Learn more about prairie chicken conservation efforts by downloading this new report, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range. Click to download the report.
Cattle and lesser prairie-chickens both need healthy rangeland to thrive. Through voluntary conservation efforts, farmers and ranchers in the southern Great Plains can restore habitat for this iconic bird while strengthening working lands.
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI), a partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), works to enhance lesser prairie-chicken habitat one ranch at a time. A number of the initiative’s successes are highlighted in a new report called the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range. Read more »
The donation of Important Soils of the United States, Bureau of Soils, 1916, was highlighted in a ceremony hosted at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland. Pictured are (l to r): Susan Fugate, Head of Special Collections, NAL; Sally Schneider, ARS Deputy Administrator, Natural Resources & Sustainable Agricultural Systems; Stan Kosecki, Acting Director, NAL; Jill Guenther, Schoolteacher; Kirk Hanlin, USDA-NRCS Assistant Chief, and David Smith, USDA-NRCS Deputy Chief of Soil Science and Resource Assessment (SSRA). USDA photo by Anson Eaglin.
Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated science teacher from New Jersey, a valuable piece of soil science history is now available for viewing and research among the special collections at USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, Maryland.
Jill Guenther, who has taught Earth and space science for 29 years, discovered the antique soils collection tucked away in a classroom cabinet. “I knew it was something special, and I wanted to use it as a display when teaching erosion and conservation issues,” she explained. Read more »
Hydrologist Randy Julander has been managing Utah’s snow survey program for the past 24 years.
“To say I enjoy my job is an understatement,” said Hydrologist Randy Julander. “Monday is my favorite day of the week, because I get to go back to work.”
As the Snow Survey Data Collection Officer in Utah, Julander’s job is a mix of science, adventure and artistry. He weaves information from data. “Data are just numbers on a page; but information – now that’s something meaningful, something that informs decision makers,” he explained. Read more »