Marsh grasses in Maryland provide valuable habitat for wildlife and help filter runoff from nearby farms. NRCS photo.
The Chesapeake Bay is a valuable resource. The Bay is home to a variety of species, such as blue crab and striped bass, provides jobs for local fishing communities, and serves as a place to interact with nature. About a quarter of the land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is devoted to agriculture. The crops and livestock produced in this region provide food and fiber for millions of Americans. But these agricultural lands do more than produce food—they can play a role in improving the Bay’s water quality.
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked with the Bay states to set water quality goals for the Chesapeake Bay and to develop Watershed Improvement Plans, or “WIPs,” for each of the states. Read more »
At the APHIS Otis Lab in Massachusetts, employees conduct research for several APHIS forest pest emergency response and eradication programs, including Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), Asian gypsy moth (AGM), emerald ash borer (EAB), and Sirex noctilio woodwasp.
In addition to the existing science-based eradication protocols for fighting an Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infestation, such as surveying trees and removing infested ones, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) relies on on-going research to not only improve current protocols, but also to develop new ones.
APHIS’s Center for Plant Health Science and Technology continues research to develop attractant-baited traps designed to lure and capture adult insects. The attractants include plant odors and pheromones, which are naturally occurring chemicals created and used by insects to communicate with each other. These attractants are used to lure beetles to traps that are hung on trees that the beetle will attack. Traps can aid in early detection of insects in areas where survey staff may not be working. When the traps are checked by staff members and a beetle is found, nearby trees may be surveyed to determine if they are infested. This year, the traps will be placed in the spring and early summer in strategic locations in all three ALB-affected states: New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio. APHIS is also working with the U.S. Forest Service and Penn State University on their research with similar ALB traps. Read more »
Water quality in the Chesapeake Bay is important for many reasons, such as supporting local fishing economies. Water quality trading is one way to improve the quality of the Bay so that we can continue to rely on the ecosystem benefits it provides. Photo credit: NRCS
Last fall, USDA brought together a group of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) awardees, state policymakers, and other stakeholders involved in one of the most challenging nutrient management initiatives in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: enabling water quality trading markets.
Water quality trading offers flexibility to those required to improve water quality in the Bay: power plants, wastewater treatment plants, new developments, and agricultural producers, among others. It allows those facing high costs of water quality improvement to reduce those costs, working with farmers to improve water quality on their behalf, thus providing farmers with additional income streams and the opportunity to significantly increase the scope of conservation practices on their land. Read more »
Penn State University (PSU) Extension released a mobile app, “DairyCents,” for dairy farmers to easily calculate their income over feed cost. The app also allows farmers to compare their feed costs with the costs paid by others.
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 profile.
It’s a digital world – and agriculture is no exception. More and more, farmers and ranchers are moving away from traditional methods of getting their news and information. Mobile devices are convenient, budget-friendly ways for farmers and ranchers to stay up-to-date on a variety of agricultural issues. Read more »
Snow didn’t stop the ideas from flying as members of the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission (Northern Tier) and their partners from Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, and Wyoming Counties met in Pennsylvania last month. Northern Tier is leading the regional group that was awarded the opportunity to participate in the Stronger Economies Together (SET) training and technical assistance program, sponsored by USDA Rural Development in conjunction with the Northeast Regional Rural Development Center and Penn State Extension. The SET program is a nationwide effort focused on working with regional groups to encourage and strengthen regional thinking and developing information and strategies to address issues affecting the region. The training will cover nine course modules on “Strategies for Building New Economic Opportunities” which will be completed by next year. Read more »