Young soybean plants thrive in the residue of a wheat crop. This form of no till farming provides good protection for the soil from erosion and helps retain moisture for the new crop. NRCS photo.
How can farmers reduce their fertilizer costs, maintain yields, reduce their environmental impacts, and take advantage of a new and emerging source of income? A project funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant is showing how.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded a CIG grant in 2011 to the Delta Institute to develop an innovative opportunity for farmers to receive greenhouse gas emissions reductions payments from the voluntary implementation of more efficient nitrogen fertilizer management techniques.
The Delta Institute engaged a variety of partners in the project, including American Farmland Trust, Conservation Technology Information Center, Environmental Defense Fund and agricultural retailers. Read more »
USDA airport biologist Bobby Hromack holds his first captured short-eared owl. Although it weighs no more than 16.8 ounces, the species can pose an aviation safety hazard due to its 33-43 inch wingspan and low, rolling flight style.
Seeing a short-eared owl in November on the Pittsburgh International Airport, where I work as an airport wildlife biologist, was a unique occasion. However, as the number of owls grew to eight, I recognized the challenge ahead: Like all birds of prey, short-eared owls are a recognized potential aviation hazard. Their low rolling flight and difficult-to-disperse reputation means they pose an aviation safety threat. From 1990-2012, short-eared owl strikes with aircraft in the United States caused over $1 million in damage, and often are fatal to the birds. Convincing them to leave would be difficult but important.
The task would be harder because short-eared owls are listed by the State as an endangered species. Common in many areas globally, Pennsylvania is the southernmost edge of their breeding range. These owls likely migrated from Canadian breeding grounds to winter in Pennsylvania. Read more »
In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Obama outlined his plan to move our economy forward by expanding opportunity for all Americans. Recognizing the role that agriculture continues to play in our nation’s economic recovery, the President said, “Today in America, […] a farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history.”
America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters, and those working in supporting industries, are to be commended for these accomplishments. They are expanding and growing markets around the world, spurring innovation, and creating jobs and opportunity on and off the farm, even in the face of uncertainty. The future of rural America depends on their continued leadership, and we must make sure they have the tools they need to continue to grow. Read more »
Recycled trees placed in a fish crib. (U.S. Forest Service)
For many, purchasing or cutting a Christmas tree is a favorite seasonal tradition. But what do you do with your trees after the festivities end?
Tree recycling after the holidays has become part of community traditions on several Eastern Region national forests. Recycled trees can be used to establish fish habitats, create mulch for future plantings and build soil erosion barriers. Using the trees for these purposes also keeps them from filling up local landfills.
Land managers of several national forests in the area have found that the old Christmas trees can be used to make a cozy home for schools of fish. Fish habitats create ideal spawning grounds to ensure successful reproduction, a place of refuge and shade for the young, and shelter from predators. Also, fish habitats provide a food source – a breeding ground for algae and plankton to attract bait fish and lure larger fish to favorite fishing spots. Read more »
Last week, I had the pleasure of serving as moderator for a Google+ Hangout examining USDA’s BioPreferred program and the growing bioeconomy. The Hangout was like a visit with old and new friends discussing a subject on which we all agree: biobased products are here to stay!
It was gratifying to see such an excellent panel representing a cross section of this flourishing industry; among them, Ray Miller of Verdezyne, a renewable industrial biotechnology biobased chemicals manufacturer. Ray told Hangout participants the BioPreferred program serves as a respected, independent source of information on new carbon content of bioproducts and said many studies such as this one indicate the production of the chemicals from biobased feed stocks is growing rapidly worldwide. Read more »
Today is National Maple Syrup Day! So, what does maple syrup have in common with an invasive insect? Well, if the insect is the Asian longhorned beetle, then they both can come from maple trees. Obviously, we want the maple syrup and not the invasive beetle. But who cares? And why should anyone care? Well, I care and here’s why:
Not only do I work for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency that is actively fighting known infestations of Asian longhorned beetle in three different states, but I also am a native of Vermont. Read more »