Along Beaver Creek in central Iowa, ARS soil scientist Mark D. Tomer and technician Sarah Porter review a map showing results from a new toolset that analyzes conservation data from this watershed. Photo by Jim Ascough.
A free computer-based toolset developed by USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists was launched this month. The toolset can help conservation planners, landowners and researchers better manage watershed runoff, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, while also supporting agricultural production.
Excess nutrients from watershed runoff—from sources that include farming—affect the ecological quality of aquatic environments. A watershed is an area of land from which all of the water that runs off its surface flows to the same location, typically a stream or river, but lakes and ponds also have watersheds. There are thousands of watersheds of varying sizes that cover the continental United States. Read more »
In 2015, U.S. farmland value averaged $3,020 per acre, a 2.4 increase from previous year’s values.
If you are interested in the farm economy, August is a great time of the year. Here at NASS, we start the month by putting out an analysis of farm production expenditures. In other words, how much does it cost to produce our foods, fuels, and fabrics. On the next day, we publish a report on the value of farmland in the United States and how much it costs farmers and ranchers to rent an acre of cropland or pastureland. This year, each one of the reports told a unique story.
While the nearly $400 billion that U.S. farmers spend to produce food and fabric in 2014 is already staggering, it is even more interesting to see what is happening in the livestock sector. While feed has been the leading expense for farmers for a while now, the rest of the livestock expenses stayed on par with the other farm-related costs. For example, in 2010, U.S. farmers spent $24.4 billion on livestock, poultry, and related expenses, which was less than total rent costs and comparable to the $21 billion spent on fertilizer. Read more »
Agricultural research science technician Fred Engstrom (left), a parent volunteer and two Central Elementary students measure out lumber for building raised beds at Noah’s Garden.
As an agricultural research science technician at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa, Fred Engstrom’s responsibilities are wide-ranging. They include tasks from managing the station’s nursery and field plots to modifying research equipment and collecting yield data for critical projects such as the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize program.
But the ARS station isn’t the only beneficiary of Engstrom’s versatile contributions. His time and technical know-how have also been praised by members of Central Elementary in Nevada, Iowa, where Engstrom helped to build the raised beds and irrigation system for the school’s community garden, dubbed “Noah’s Garden.” Read more »
Justin Smith Morrill served as a Vermont Representative and Senator from 1855-1898. He is best known for authoring the Morrill Act in 1862, which created the land-grant university system, and the Second Morrill Act in 1894, which expanded the system to include historically black colleges and universities. (Historical photo)
July in America. It is summer time and school’s out. It is about vacations and maybe a trip to the beach. It is Independence Day—the 4th of July—and parades and fireworks. It is about barbecues, hotdogs, and burgers.
2015 marks America’s 239th birthday.
July is also the month for another important birthday in America—passage of the Morrill Act on July 2, 1862, which established the land-grant university system, ensuring access to education for all people. Read more »
As local and regional food systems continue to expand, so does the need for reliable market data. USDA Market News now captures data on over 85 farmers markets in the U.S. Pictured here is the Des Moines Farmers Market, which draws an average of 20,000 visitors a weekend. Photo courtesy of Des Moines, Iowa Farmers Market.
Farmers markets are an important part of local and regional food systems. Nationwide, 150,000 farmers and ranchers are selling their products directly to consumers to meet the growing demand for local food. Many sell their products at farmers markets, which can be a catalyst for future growth.
According to USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, there are over 8,400 farmers markets across the country serving as community gathering places where America’s food producers are building successful businesses and bringing fresh, local food to their communities. As local and regional food systems continue to expand, so does the need for reliable market data. Read more »
David Petersen uses a variety of conservation practices to prevent nutrients from washing off his dairy farm into the nearby Cedar, Iowa and Mississippi Rivers. NRCS photo.
David Petersen takes extra steps to ensure his dairy in southeast Iowa does not impact water quality downstream. Through voluntary conservation work, he prevents manure from washing off the dairy into the nearby Cedar, Iowa and Mississippi rivers.
Majestic Manor, run by Peterson and his wife Amy, has been in the family for four generations. They milk about 120 Holstein dairy cows twice daily and also grow corn, alfalfa, oats, triticale and soybeans on about 320 acres. Petersen likes to refer to his operation as “closed-loop” where the soil feeds the crops, the crops feed the cattle, and the cattle feed the soil. “It is a benefit to everyone,” he says. Read more »