Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: North Carolina

Cover Crops: Agriculture’s Hero

Testing can provide the vital information needed when deciding what cover crop seed to purchase. Pictured here is AMS Botanist Elizabeth Tatum identifying a weed seed. (AMS photo)

Testing can provide the vital information needed when deciding what cover crop seed to purchase. Pictured here is AMS Botanist Elizabeth Tatum identifying a weed seed. (AMS photo)

Cover crops are the real heroes in the world of agriculture. Their job starts after a field is harvested and ends just before the next season’s crop is planted. Expectations for cover crops are high because if they don’t produce, the next crop may suffer.

After crops are harvested each year, planting fields are left bare. Runoff from rainwater, wind, and other forms of erosion devastate planting fields by stripping essential nutrients from the soil – nutrients needed for the next growing season. In addition to the loss of vital nutrients, the exposed fields are prime real estate for noxious-weed seeds intent on stealing what is left of the field’s nutrients. Replacing the lost nutrients and removing the weedy invaders costs millions of dollars each year for farmers. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Jewel Hairston

Dr. Jewel Hairston is Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University (VSU). As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders.

Dr. Jewel Hairston is Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University (VSU). As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are taking a moment to talk with prominent women in agriculture about their lives, their ideas about leadership, and how their day gets off to a good start.

Dr. Jewel Hairston is currently the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University. As Dean, she leads in developing the strategic vision and plan for the college and develops and fosters partnership with other universities, as well as local, state and federal agencies and organizations across the state of Virginia to offer competitive educational programs to students and diverse stakeholders. Read more »

New Film to be Shown at USDA: Restoring the South’s Brook Trout–Raise a Glass of Water to the Return of a Regional Icon

Southern Appalachian Brook Trout spawn in the Fall when brightly colored males court females, who dig nests known as redds in clean streambed gravels. (Copyright photo courtesy Freshwaters Illustrated/Dave Herasimtschuk)

Southern Appalachian Brook Trout spawn in the Fall when brightly colored males court females, who dig nests known as redds in clean streambed gravels. (Copyright photo courtesy Freshwaters Illustrated/Dave Herasimtschuk)

For a community of brook trout in the southern Appalachian mountains, there are signs that the good times are coming back. To some, these native inhabitants might even appear to be waving a welcome home sign.

Their numbers almost vanquished, they are as much a cultural emblem of these rugged and lush mountain forests as they are an important signal for the highest quality drinking water. This is what makes their fate of such interest to the millions who live in the surrounding watersheds and to those involved in an inspiring partnership to help them along. They are also the subject of a new film, “Bringing Back the Brooks: Reviving the South’s Trout” produced by Freshwaters Illustrated in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. Read more »

1890′s Land-Grant Universities: Providing Access and Enhancing Opportunities

Professor Edward Jones discusses an alfalfa nutrition experiment with Delaware State University students (left to right) Tony Carney, Latisha Corey, and Karen Meyer. (USDA photo by Scott Bauer)

Professor Edward Jones discusses an alfalfa nutrition experiment with Delaware State University students (left to right) Tony Carney, Latisha Corey, and Karen Meyer. (USDA photo by Scott Bauer)

February is traditionally a month of celebration for our nation’s 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) in commemoration of Black History Month. These institutions are historically-black universities that were established in 1890 under the Second Morrill Act.  Now, as the month draws to an end, the 1890 LGUs are setting their sights on August 30, which marks the 125th anniversary of the Congressional action that created a network of historically black colleges and universities dedicated to providing educational opportunity for all through innovative scientific research and community-minded Extension programs.

“One of the ways we can best honor black history is by providing a proper foundation to support future achievement. Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future,” said Cathie Woteki, USDA’s Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. Read more »

An Amphibian Only a Mother (or Biologist) Could Love Needs your Attention

The Eastern hellbender is the largest salamander in North America, reaching lengths of up to 24 inches.  Hellbenders need clean streams with high water quality and silt-free streambeds to find their prey and avoid predators.  (Copyright photo courtesy Freshwaters Illustrated/Dave Herasimtschuk)

The Eastern hellbender is the largest salamander in North America, reaching lengths of up to 24 inches. Hellbenders need clean streams with high water quality and silt-free streambeds to find their prey and avoid predators. (Copyright photo courtesy Freshwaters Illustrated/Dave Herasimtschuk)

Hiding beneath a pile of rocks in a clear mountain stream flowing from the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina lurks North America’s largest salamander, the Eastern hellbender.  It is also locked in battle between its perilous decline and valiant struggle for survival.

Sediment from runoff, prescription and over-the-counter therapeutic and veterinary drugs, personal care products such as soaps, fragrances and cosmetics, other chemical pollutants, and the physical disturbance of its rocky lairs by unknowing recreationalists are all suspects contributing to the hellbender’s decline. Read more »

Sunlight to the Seagrasses: U.S. Forest Service Research Shines Light on Threatened Coastal Plant

Healthy seagrass meadows prevent erosion on coasts, store carbon, and provide marine animals with food and habitat. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency)

Healthy seagrass meadows prevent erosion on coasts, store carbon, and provide marine animals with food and habitat. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency)

Just off Florida’s 8,000 miles of coastline and tidal areas, in shallow sunlit waters, over two million acres of seagrass meadows waft in the ocean currents.

Besides providing food and habitat for manatees, sea turtles, shellfish, and other animals, seagrasses protect coasts from erosion and store vast quantities of carbon dioxide.

“Seagrasses grow off the coast of many other U.S. states, including North Carolina and Virginia, as well as around the world,” said U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station scientist Zanethia Choice. “Globally, their economic value is nearly $4 trillion.” Read more »