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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine.
Over the past several decades, satellite imagery has emerged as one of the most valuable new tools in modern agriculture. At USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), we strive to remain at the forefront of this technology to continually advance our statistical products in service to U.S. agriculture. To keep abreast of how our counterparts in other countries are implementing this exciting new technology, last month we hosted representatives from the Canadian and Mexican agriculture departments in a Tripartite meeting. As geographic neighbors and statistical collaborators, we are particularly interested in each others’ work and how we can learn from each other.
It was exciting to see that Statistics Canada, working with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, is researching new remote sensing-based yield models, using vegetative indices, agro-climactic data, and survey data for 21 crops. As a result of this innovation, Stats Canada is planning to use only remote sensing to set their official estimates for these crops rather than conducting traditional surveys. This is a tremendous step forward for a statistical estimates program that we will be watching with great interest. Read more »
Data consumers can now more easily leverage several of the most popular offerings from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS)!
To meet the needs of a growing community of data users, including application developers and researchers, ERS has just released seven new APIs (Application Programming Interface), enriched with shared services provided by other Federal agencies. The APIs offer dynamic access to ERS’s atlases, traditional data sets, and indicators in machine-readable formats. ERS has developed rigorous standards for data products; users will note the extensive metadata and full documentation and transparency provided for each of the data sets via APIs.
Experienced users may want to dive into the thorough documentation available on ERS’s Developer page; while those seeking a simpler path can leverage pre-built widgets and starter-code snippets available in jQuery, Python, and Ruby. The geospatial APIs provide access to map layers via ESRI (or other mapping services, such as Mapbox and Google Maps). The newly released APIs supplement the following data sets: Read more »
Rick Mueller, Spatial Analysis Research Section Head, National Agricultural Statistics 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.
2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.
While most of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) statisticians studied mathematics, economics or agriculture in school, my career path started in a completely different place. I came to NASS in the 1990s as an IT specialist to help the agency evolve its use of geospatial technology and contribute to the remote sensing acreage estimation program. And so, while most of the agency staff learned about agriculture by visiting fields, my knowledge of this intricate subject came from studying and analyzing satellite imagery. Read more »
Kevin Megown (right), program manager at the Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City, familiarizes Phub Dhendup (left) and Kinley Tshering (center) with the forest types found in the montane, basin and range ecosystems in Mill Creek Canyon on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Dhendup and Tshering are official guests of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Forest Service, and are assigned to the Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan. They are spending two combined months in Salt Lake City and Missoula, Mont. while working and training with the Forest Service on forestry and climate change issues.
Bhutan is a small mountainous kingdom nestled in the Himalayas. Some people know it as the country that measures gross national happiness in addition to its gross domestic product. Others may have heard about its innovative, eco-friendly approach to tourism or of its Dragon King’s royal wedding in 2011. Read more »