Horticultural research at land-grant universities is coming up with better types of grass that stands up to the stresses of NFL football. (iStock image)
Grass is a big deal in football – a really big deal. Nearly every day of the week, untold millions of people watch players step out onto lush, green fields painted with white.
All aspects of the game are tough. Even growing and maintaining a real turf grass field has its challenges, like freezing temperatures, rain, and damage from tackles and foot traffic. So what type of grass can hold up to all that? Horticultural specialists and plant breeders throughout the land-grant university cooperative extension system, as well as USDA researchers from Agricultural Research Service, are working to answer that question. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture supports their research with Hatch Act funding. Read more »
The Ninos Sanos, Familia Sana program uses NIFA-administered grant funds to teach a new culture of healthy living to residents of Firebaugh, Calif. (Poster courtesy of Elizabeth Bishay)
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.
What started as a project to test the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention methods has turned into a community-wide effort and a new culture of health for families in Firebaugh, California. Read more »
Fields-Johnson rotates his goats and sheep through the thinned stands to browse on honeysuckle and other understory vegetation. (Photo courtesy of Tom Ward and Colleen Rossier)
Throughout his life, Chris Fields-Johnson has been keenly aware of the need to preserve the natural landscapes, which provide us with clean air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat. As a graduate student of soil science at Virginia State and Polytechnic University, a forestry undergraduate, a student of Tom Brown, Jr.’s Tracker School and a former employee of the Virginia Department of Forestry, he also knows much of the science behind soil restoration and forestry. These experiences have given him a strong desire to turn his knowledge into action by managing land in the most beneficial way possible.
To make this dream a reality, he began converting a 250-acre loblolly pine plantation in Scottsville, Virginia., into a goat and sheep silvopasture system that resembles a pine savanna landscape. Silvopasture combines trees with forage and livestock production. The trees are managed for high-value sawlogs and, at the same time, provide shade and shelter for livestock and forage, reducing livestock stress and sometimes improving forage quality. Fields-Johnson and friends have spent many weekends thinning and pruning trees by hand, conducting controlled burns, fighting invasive plants and experimenting with forage establishment while they also learn how to raise goats and sheep. Read more »
EFNEP provides food and nutrition information to limited-resource families, including how to understand the nutrition information provided on food labels. (iStock image)
Educators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories recently met in Arlington, Virginia to discuss local implementation of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), one of the nation’s largest nutrition education programs.
Through nutrition education, EFNEP helps limited-resource families and children gain the knowledge and skills to change their current attitudes and behaviors when it comes to choosing nutritionally sound diets and improve their health and well-being. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers EFNEP and provides national program leadership.
“The 2015 EFNEP Conference brought together about 170 representatives from 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) to coordinate, collaborate, and receive training that they can take back and implement in their respective university programs,” said Stephanie Blake, NIFA EFNEP program coordinator. Read more »
A farmer in Navasota, Texas uses modern technology to navigate a harvester through his wheat sorghum crop.
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 profile.
Low prices for commodity crops are never good for agricultural producers. But for small farmers, many of whom already depend on off-farm income, this is not a good scenario.
Navigating this uncertain financial terrain is not for the faint of heart; fortunately, at-risk residents in rural communities have the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) on their side to provide them with the information they need. Land-grant universities (LGU) provide research-based information through non-formal, non-credit to residents in their state. Read more »
The USDA Climate Hubs are almost one year old! Since February of 2014, we have made considerable progress by developing networks that connect researchers to landowners; by evaluating available tools that can help land managers with management decisions regarding risk management; by synthesizing regional risks and vulnerabilities; and we have learned a lot along the way.
The Hubs are about developing and delivering science-based, region-specific information and technologies, with the help of USDA agencies and partners, to agricultural and natural resource managers and communities. Land managers and communities desire healthy, resilient, productive, and profitable agricultural or natural ecosystems that are sustainable over time. The Hubs’ role is to work with (and as) advisers to land managers by providing information and tools to help them achieve their goals in an environment filled with climate-related stresses and risks. The Hubs’ initial focus is on communicating with our stakeholders and developing networks with our partners. This includes communicating research to Certified Crop Advisors, relaying stakeholder needs to science organizations, or just making sure the lines of communication are open among the respective science and information providers and managers of working lands. Read more »