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Posts tagged: Research

Research Can Help the Economy and Inform Policy

Wood pellets

Wood pellets which can be used as biofuel are one example of the many technologies and products the Forest Service produces or supports that provide sizable financial benefits to stakeholders and industry. (Photo credit: USDA)

When most people think of forests, science isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but, perhaps, it should. That’s because the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development program oversees projects across many science disciplines including forestry, genetics, wildlife, forest products and wildfire.

And the agency has been using this science to deliver returns on investments for stakeholders, industry partners, and the public.

For instance Forest Service research supported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision to not list the Greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act, listing the species would have necessitated restrictions on economic activity across 163 million acres. Read more »

USDA Scientific Integrity Policy Scores “Top Grade” in New Report

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist Jay Evans and postdoctoral research associate Ryan Schwarz use a microscope to look at spores of the honey bee fungal parasite Nosema ceranae

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist Jay Evans and postdoctoral research associate Ryan Schwarz use a microscope to look at spores of the honey bee fungal parasite Nosema ceranae, which can replicate in cells lining the honey bee gut on Oct. 25, 2011. Photo by Stephen Ausmus.

“Top grade,” “strong,” “substantially strengthened,” and “significantly improved,” may sound like reviews you might read about consumer products such as smart phones or televisions. However, these are the actual terms used by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in its recent review of USDA’s updated Scientific Integrity Policy.

In a January 2017 report titled “Preserving Scientific Integrity in Federal Policymaking,” the UCS – a noted organization that represents the interests of the scientific community – gave USDA’s updated Scientific Integrity Policy (or SIP, for short) the highest rating assigned in a three-tiered rating system.  Additionally, based on USDA’s release of a new procedural manual to accompany the SIP, USDA was one of only five federal departments or agencies (out of 18 reviewed) to receive a “strong” rating for its procedures for responding to scientific integrity concerns. Read more »

The Cost of Raising a Child

Families Projected to Spend an Average of $233,610 Raising a Child Born in 2015 infographic

Families Projected to Spend an Average of $233,610 Raising a Child Born in 2015.

USDA recently issued Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015. This report is also known as “The Cost of Raising a Child.” USDA has been tracking the cost of raising a child since 1960 and this analysis examines expenses by age of child, household income, budgetary component, and region of the country.

Based on the most recent data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, in 2015, a family will spend approximately $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income ($59,200-$107,400), two-child, married-couple family. Middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in*) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. This does not include the cost of a college education. Read more »

Selecting Trees to Grow in Cities: Database Captures Urban Tree Sizes, Growth Rates Across US

An overgrown urban tree

Knowing the maximum size of a tree can help a planner or manager avoid future conflicts between roots and sidewalks or branches and power lines. A technical manual published by the U.S. Forest Service can help cities decide which trees are best to plant in specific areas. (Photo Credit: U.S. Forest Service)

In the cramped environs of U.S. cities every inch counts, especially if attempting to make space for nature. But now city planners and urban foresters have a resource to more precisely select tree species whose growth will be a landscaping dream instead of a maintenance nightmare.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station recently published a technical manual and launched the most extensive database available cataloging urban trees with their projected growth tailored to specific geographic regions. Read more »

September: A Nice Time to Celebrate Rice Research

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods with a special display of rice products

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods, Stuttgart, Arkansas, presents a special display of rice products to celebrate National Rice Month.

September is National Rice Month, and the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, is well positioned—literally and figuratively—to support the production, harvest, and public enjoyment of this versatile and nutritious grain. And on the world-food security front, ARS’ Stuttgart center is closing in on genes that regulate rice’s uptake and storage of iron, thiamine and other important vitamins and minerals—a pursuit that could bolster the nutritional value of this cereal grain crop as a staple food for roughly half the world’s population.

In the United States, nearly 85 percent of the rice eaten by consumers is grown on family-run farms across six States:  Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Of these, Arkansas produces about half of all U.S. rice on nearly 1.3 million acres of cropland. Read more »

The Science Behind Fire

Researchers preparing for the next phase in examining physical fire processes

Researchers prepare for the next phase in examining physical fire processes by adding the effect of a slope. Photo credit: Mark Finney

In recent months, we have all become familiar with images in the media of wildland firefighters digging lines, air tankers dropping retardant and fire engines dispersing water. You may wonder “how do these firefighters know what it takes to fight fire?”

The short answer is: research.

Before a wildland firefighter sees his or her first fire, they are given the tools and training on how to fight fire and its behavior. The information passed onto them is not learned overnight but rather through years of research. Read more »