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Posts tagged: Research

America’s Diverse Family Farms

Family Farms table infographic

America’s Diverse Family Farms report categorizes farms based on annual revenue, operator’s primary occupation, and the family/nonfamily ownership of the farm.

Describing the structure of the U.S. farm sector is challenging because farms vary widely in size and other characteristics.  Are they largely family businesses, or corporate operations?  U.S. farms range from very small retirement and residential holdings to businesses with sales in the millions of dollars.

To better understand U.S. agriculture, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released America’s Diverse Family Farms.  The report categorizes farms into homogenous groupings based on the annual revenue of the farm, primary occupation of the principal operator, and family/nonfamily ownership of the farm. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Dr. Lois Wright Morton

Dr. Morton (R) and her colleagues looking at the layout of one of the more than 35 field sites they are gathering data on

As project director for the USDA-NIFA Climate and Corn-based Cropping System Coordinated Agricultural Project, Dr. Lois Wright Morton (R) spends a lot of time in corn fields from Iowa to Ohio talking with farmers across the Midwest cornbelt. In this picture, Dr. Morton and her colleagues are looking at the layout of one of the more than 35 field sites they are gathering data on.

As part of our ongoing #womeninag series, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each month.  This month, we profile Dr. Lois Wright Morton, professor of sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University and director of the USDA-NIFA Climate & Corn-based Cropping System Coordinated Agricultural Project.

Dr. Morton’s research focuses on the relationship between people and the natural environment as it relates to climate change. She discusses with us the impact research has on women worldwide and how the field continues to evolve. Read more »

A Banner Year for Research: 5 Innovative Projects Aimed at Helping Growers

USDA scientists work 365 days to provide safe and sustainable food, water, and natural resources in the face of a changing climate and uncertain energy sources. To recognize the contribution that agricultural science and research makes in our daily lives, this week’s “Banner Year” series features stories from 2015 that show the successes that USDA science and statistical agencies made for us all.

Making a success in agriculture and rural communities in today’s competitive world requires a toolbox of cutting-edge knowledge and ways to put that information in people’s hands so they can put it to work. Whether it’s designing these tools, developing the data to prove them, or breeding a new crop variety to outwit a plant disease to avoid a harvest’s devastation, the scientists of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are always coming up with something new to enhance rural opportunities.

Here are five research highlights from 2015 you should read: Read more »

Walnuts Have Fewer Calories than the Label Suggests, ARS Researcher Discovers

Walnuts

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have found that walnuts have fewer calories than previously thought. Studies also show that eating tree nuts, as part of a healthy diet, can lead to improved cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of obesity.

USDA scientists have found that walnuts have 21 percent fewer calories than previously thought, which is good news for the weight-conscious nut lover!

Researchers with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service fed volunteers a controlled diet consisting of walnut halves and pieces (45 grams) for three weeks. After measuring the calories in the walnuts consumed, they found that a typical 28-gram serving actually contains 146 calories, 21 percent fewer than the 185 calories currently assigned by the USDA.  The study, published this month in The Journal of Nutrition, was partially funded by the California Walnut Commission. Read more »

Producing Statistics about Hard-to-Reach Populations through Adaptive and Network Sampling

Dr. Steve Thompson at the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture

Dr. Steve Thompson headlined the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture, November 17, 2015.

The number of people who had heart disease related surgeries, the percentage of Americans who take anti-depressants; the number of women who opt for natural childbirth, these are health statistics you likely hear about in the news frequently. But how do public health researchers obtain data about hard-to-reach, marginalized populations such as the homeless at-risk of contracting specific things like HIV/AIDS?

Producing statistics about hidden, underserved populations was one of the topics explored by Dr. Steve Thompson, professor of statistics at Simon Fraser University during the 25th annual Morris Hansen Lecture hosted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The lecture series was established by the Washington Statistical Society to honor Morris Hansen and his pioneering contributions to survey sampling and related statistical methods during his long and distinguished service at the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 200 people attended this year’s lecture at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium in Washington. Read more »

Genomics and Precision Agriculture: The Future of Farming

A variable-rate center-pivot irrigation system in a field in Bushland, Texas

A variable-rate center-pivot irrigation system in a field in Bushland, Texas, equipped with infrared thermometers that collect temperature data and a neutron gauge to measure soil water content. High-resolution data such as these are used by scientists to optimize crop performance in specific environmental conditions.

For nearly 400 years, Thanksgiving has been a time in North America when families come together to celebrate food and agriculture. As we reflect on yet another year, agricultural scientists at USDA continue to keep a wary eye on the future. At the end of what may be the hottest year on record, a period of drought has threatened the heart of one of the most important agricultural production zones in the United States. Water demands are increasing, and disease and pest pressures are continually evolving. This challenges our farmers’ ability to raise livestock and crops.  How are science and technology going to address the problems facing our food supply? 

To find answers, agricultural scientists turn to data—big data.  Genomics, the field of science responsible for cataloging billions of DNA base pairs that encode thousands of genes in an organism, is fundamentally changing our understanding of plants and animals.  USDA has already helped to fund and collect genomes for 25 crop plant species, important livestock and fish species, and numerous bacteria, fungi, and insect species related to agricultural production. Other USDA-supported research projects expanding these efforts are currently underway, including genome sequencing of 1,000 bulls and 5,000 insect species in the i5K initiative. But classifying and understanding DNA is only part of the story. Read more »