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Posts tagged: NRCS

Steps Producers Can Take to Ensure They Meet Conservation Compliance Provisions

To be eligible to receive many USDA benefits, including loans, disaster assistance, federal crop insurance premium subsidies and conservation assistance, producers must comply with requirements for highly erodible lands and wetlands. The purpose of the conservation compliance provisions is to reduce soil loss on erosion-prone lands and protect wetlands. Use these steps to ensure you’re compliant.

Farmers seeking federal crop insurance premium subsidies for the 2016 reinsurance year must comply by June 1 by filing form AD-1026. Read more »

Earth Team Individuals Volunteer More than Just Time

Matthew Roberts received the National Earth Team Individual Award for volunteering more than 1,000 hours at the NRCS Wytheville Service Center. NRCS photo.

Matthew Roberts received the National Earth Team Individual Award for volunteering more than 1,000 hours at the NRCS Wytheville Service Center. NRCS photo.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” For Matthew Roberts, the “who” was only a first step on a path that has led him to contribute more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service to the Wytheville, Virginia Service Center and his community.

Matt’s career coach thought the Earth Team program would be a great fit for the Wytheville Community College student and referred him to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Little did anyone know how good a fit that would turn out to be. Read more »

USDA Scientists, Volunteers Map Soils under New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay

Man and woman at Barnegat Bay

Barnegat Bay is one of 28 estuaries across the country classified as nationally significant.

Soil scientists don’t just map what’s under our feet but what’s below the water’s surface, too. Scientists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are mapping and documenting the permanently submerged subaqueous soils of Barnegat Bay, a troubled estuary in New Jersey that is home to environmentally-sensitive habitats.

The bay’s ecosystem has degraded over the years from pollution, human development and other causes. NRCS soil scientists are now working an inventory of the bay’s soils that will identify the sources of the estuary’s decline and aid in its restoration.

To make this happen, NRCS is collecting vibracores and field notes and describing soil samples as part of mapping the floor of the bay. Vibracores are samples of underwater soils collected in tubes. Read more »

In the West, Preparing for Uncertain Water Supply

The April 1 Snowpack Map shows the dramatic, early reduction in snowpack across the West.

The April 1 Snowpack Map shows the dramatic, early reduction in snowpack across the West.

“Well, this shouldn’t take long,” Dr. David Garen said as I sat down to interview him about April snowpack conditions. “March was warm and dry. Spring came early and the snowpack is already melting across most of the West. The End.”

Garen is a hydrologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Among other duties, he creates forecast maps and helps write the West-wide forecast summary for the Snow Survey Program.

“This year we had record low snowpack up and down the West Coast,” said Garen. “But even in the areas that had normal snowpack, it’s melting earlier than usual.” Historically, April 1st is when the snowpack peaks. This year has been different. Read more »

A Tool Helps Farmers, Conservationists Measure Cover Crop Economics

The cover crop tool is an Excel spreadsheet developed for easy use. Click to enlarge.

The cover crop tool is an Excel spreadsheet developed for easy use. Click to enlarge.

What happens when you get two energized agriculture economists together? Possibly one of the best economic tools out there for farmers using or considering cover crops. The Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool, an Excel spreadsheet, was created by two economists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service – Bryon Kirwan in Illinois and Lauren Cartwright in Missouri. The tool has taken off with great success, and the second version was released last fall.

“Where this tool has landed is not what we initially envisioned,” said Kirwan. “We wanted to build a tool valuable for producers and planners locally, and we have received many positive comments. Then it took off.” Read more »

Longleaf Pine Savanna Helps Educate Farmers, Others on Value of Forest

Longleaf pine is resistant to pests and disease, withstands drought and provides habitat for a host of wildlife. NRCS photo by Renee Bodine.

Longleaf pine is resistant to pests and disease, withstands drought and provides habitat for a host of wildlife. NRCS photo by Renee Bodine.

The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, an hour west of Tallahassee, Florida, protects nearly 6,300 acres of restored sandhill habitat. Young longleaf pines stand in thick waves of golden wiregrass. Wild turkey, bobwhite quail, gopher tortoise and Florida pine snake once again populate what 25 years ago were rows of industrial timber and bare sand.

About 50 people recently toured the preserve to see for themselves the beauty and benefits of the longleaf pine, many of them landowners interested in restoring stands on their properties.  They learned how The Nature Conservancy hand planted millions of longleaf pine seedlings and wiregrass plugs.

Foresters from Florida Forest Service explained how regular prescribed burns promoted the growth of native groundcover and kept hardwood and invasive species in check. Biologists from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discussed how wildlife is managed in longleaf pine forests. Read more »