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Posts tagged: NRCS

Working Together to Restore the Colorado Front Range

Dr. Richard Reynolds talking with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species

Dr. Richard Reynolds talks with a group of land owners and land managers about the benefits of ponderosa pine forest restoration to wildlife species. Photo credit: Jennifer Hayes, US Forest Service

It started with a call from a concerned landowner living on Pine Country Lane, nestled in the foothills just west of Denver. The landscape spread out before them was scarred from previous high-severity fires, the homeowners told their local Conservation District.

Their home was sitting at the top of a hill in a tinderbox surrounded by dense forests dying from bark beetle and tussock moth invasions. Decades of fire suppression has altered forests on the Front Range. These forests were historically adapted to frequent low-severity fire and, with suppression, have become fuel-dense and are now comprised of a different species mix. Read more »

New York State of Mind: Empowering Women and Creating Local Food Opportunities

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (standing in the middle) joined USDA state colleagues and New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball for a roundtable on Women in Agriculture

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (standing in the middle) joined USDA state colleagues and New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball for a roundtable on Women in Agriculture and Local Foods at the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Center in Syracuse, N.Y.

The future of agriculture depends on the next generation of farmers and ranchers.  That’s why the Department of Agriculture is committed to creating more opportunities for new and beginning farmers and removing barriers for women and minority farmers.

To advance these priorities, I traveled to Syracuse, N.Y., last week, where I was joined by my USDA state colleagues and New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball for a roundtable on Women in Agriculture and Local Foods at the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Center in Syracuse, N.Y.  The discussion focused on the big picture of how a thriving local food system can help women succeed as farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs.  We had a vibrant conversation that ranged from sharing ideas to creating valuable connections and networks to mapping out strategies for further progress. Read more »

Using Gypsum to Help Reduce Phosphorus Runoff

USDA agricultural engineer Jim Fouss observing an algal bloom on Alligator Bayou, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana

USDA agricultural engineer Jim Fouss observes an algal bloom on Alligator Bayou, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. These blooms, a particular problem during hot summer months, can be caused by high concentrations of fertilizer nutrients from agricultural drainage waters.

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.

When it rains it pours. Whether we get a passing shower or a day-long downpour, the runoff ends up in rivers, streams and waterways. That runoff may include nutrients from fertilizers, and one of those nutrients is phosphorus.

Phosphorus runoff is causing blooms of harmful algae that deplete waterways of oxygen, resulting in “dead zones” that damage ecosystems vital for aquatic life. It’s a problem in many of the waterways we all depend on for recreation and drinking water, including the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.  Just last year, Maryland’s outgoing governor proposed land use regulations designed specifically to reduce phosphorus runoff in the Chesapeake watershed. Read more »

USDA-EPA National Workshop on Water Quality Markets September 15-17

2015 USDA/EPA National Workshop on Water Quality Markets graphic

2015 USDA/EPA National Workshop on Water Quality Markets graphic. (Click for the registration link)

For most people, water quality markets are probably a new concept. They are not something you hear about on the news every day, even though reports frequently cover the need to clean up rivers and lakes. But to some—like states, utilities, and farmers—they represent an opportunity, and should be on the radar.

Water quality markets can reduce costs of cleaning up waterways by allowing sources with high costs of meeting water quality requirements to purchase credits from sources that have lower costs of making the same water quality improvement. Agricultural producers often have lower costs of improving water quality, which makes farmers and ranchers prime candidates to supply water quality credits. Read more »

Commitment to Innovation and Conservation Shapes the Littles’ Family Farm

The Littles in front of their cattle

The Littles have a diversified farming and ranching operation. Photo: Dan Zinkand for NRCS.

When you stop on a bridge that crosses the Big Sioux River in Hamlin County, South Dakota, and look south you can see how well Donnie, Barry and Eli Little manage their cows and crops to improve soil and water quality and increase productivity.

Cows graze in one of 24 paddocks that the family manages with a computer program Eli made after graduating from South Dakota State University in 2013. An electric fence along a buffer strip following the river keeps cows out, protecting the source of drinking water for the city of Sioux Falls. Read more »

An NRCS Earth Team Volunteer Gives Her Perspective

Raquel MacSwain, NRCS Earth Team Volunteer

Raquel MacSwain, NRCS Earth Team Volunteer. Photo credit: Julie MacSwain.

I experience a sense of passion and pride towards something greater than myself every time I volunteer with an organization that directly benefits others, such as serving with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as an Earth Team Volunteer.

I have been with NRCS since 2008 – volunteering nearly 100 hours over my summer breaks and a few hours a week while in school – assisting the public affairs specialist for NRCS in Minnesota. Through my familiarity with social media, I help by developing messaging for Twitter, promoting upcoming media events, as well as other clerical tasks like designing PowerPoint slides for presentations for employee meetings. Read more »