Red-backed salamanders and other amphibians are key players in ecosystem health. (iStock photo)
Forested areas that border wetlands help protect wildlife, but until recently their efficacy has been untested for most amphibian species. Now, recently published results of a six-year study explore how the loss or reduction of amphibians could affect the ecosystem.
At the University of New Hampshire, Dr. Kimberly Babbitt and a team of graduate students conducted landscape-scale experiments that tested the impacts of forest buffer width vernal pools on population size and structure, body size and condition and population genetics of two amphibian species in the northeastern United States. A grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supported the project. Read more »
Potato production is an important part of the Black Brook Watershed’s landscape. Photo credit: J. Owen /Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
When thinking about how to reduce run-off from potato fields in New Brunswick, Canada, researcher Josée Owen of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada turned to a tool created by Mike Dosskey, a U.S. Forest Service researcher at the USDA National Agroforestry Center.
With others at the University of Kentucky and the Forest Service, Dosskey created AgBufferBuilder, a GIS-based computer program used for designing vegetation buffers around agricultural fields. Soil can erode, and fertilizer and pesticides off of fields while suspended in water. Buffers with trees, shrubs and other plants help to filter this water by trapping sediment and nutrients. Read more »
USDA-ARS maintains a collection of dry beans obtained from around the globe and catalogued for important traits, like resistance to diseases and pests. USDA-ARS photo by Steve Ausmus.
2016 has been named “International Year of the Pulses” by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). The goal of the initiative is to educate consumers about the nutritional and other benefits of eating pulse crops, as well as to marshal the capabilities of agricultural research organizations around the world in developing new, improved varieties that will help further global food security and sustainable agriculture.
Pulses refer to the dry edible seed of certain leguminous plants—most notably dry beans (like kidney, pinto and navy beans), dry peas, lentils and chickpeas. Read more »
Mountain pine beetle infestation has devastated pine forests in western North America, creating vast areas of “dead-crown zombie trees.” (iStock image)
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at USDA offers competitively awarded grants to qualified small businesses to support high quality, advanced concepts research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefits. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers SBIR Phase I grants that are limited to $100,000 and a duration of 8 months, and Phase II grants of up to $500,000 and 24 months that are open only to Phase I awardees. Below is the first-hand account of NIFA-funded SBIR research from Agenor Mafra-Neto, President and CEO of ISCA Technologies, Inc.
It might sound like the subject of the lamest B-horror flick ever made, but for pine trees in western North America, it’s a true story—the plant world’s equivalent of a zombie plague that has destroyed an estimated 723 million cubic of timber on more than 17.5 million hectares of forested land.
All on account of a tiny mountain pine beetle (MPB), no larger than a single grain of rice. Read more »
Agricultural research means real results helping real people every day. Agronomist Edgar E. Hartwig has devoted half a century to soybeans research, developing productive plants with built-in resistance to insects, nematodes, and diseases. He is best known for commercial varieties that include Bragg, Lee, Forrest, Lamar, Sharkey, and most recently, Vernal. (USDA ARS photo by Keith Weller.)
Seeing President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal and the strong commitment it makes to agricultural research reminds me of Dr. Consuelo De Moraes.
As a university researcher and panel manager of the National Research Initiative (NRI) competitive grants program, I called Dr. De Moraes in 2002 to inform her that USDA was going to fund her research proposal on determining how plants defend themselves against insects, so farmers could exploit the same as a means to control pests. She screamed with happiness. Later I learned that people heard the scream throughout the building at Pennsylvania State University. After that, Dr. De Moraes went on to great acclaim as one of the leading insect researchers. Read more »
In the United States, 31 percent of the available food supply in 2010 went uneaten. The estimated value of this food loss was $161.6 billion using retail prices.
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 portfolio.
We’re all fortunate to live in a country that has one of the most productive and efficient food production systems in the world. The United States produces over 430 billion pounds of food each year. However, nearly a third of the food produced by farmers goes uneaten, representing $161.6 billion. That’s enough food waste to fill 44 Sears Towers every year. To meet this challenge, USDA scientists are developing innovative programs and using cutting-edge research to reduce food waste on the farm, on supermarket shelves, and in the home. Read more »