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Posts tagged: Research

USDA Supports Production Research, Helping the Walnut Industry Thrive

Walnuts

The California Walnut Board funds production research across an entire spectrum of walnut needs. Photo courtesy of Pauline Mak.

Production research is critical for the success of plants for a number of reasons. The resulting data helps growers adjust to the needs of the plant environment and develop best practices to efficiently use water and energy, mitigate pest damage, minimize diseases, and improve productivity. The California Walnut Board, which funds production research across an entire spectrum of walnut needs, has used production research to increase the number of delicious, flavorful walnuts available on our tables.

The California Walnut Board operates under the authority of a federal marketing order, which is overseen by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) via its Marketing Order and Agreement Division (MOAD).  Federal marketing orders and agreements are requested for and funded by various groups in the U.S. produce industry to help growers and handlers within a geographic region to overcome marketing barriers and increase awareness of the commodity. Read more »

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way from the Summit: How REE is Using New Strategies to Reach Even Newer Poultry Handlers

USDA Chief Scientist Dr. Catherine Woteki, Dr. Fidelis (Fidel) Hegngi, with the APHIS National Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) Program, and Dr. Denise Brinson Director of APHIS National Poultry Improvement Plan

(Left to right): USDA Chief Scientist Dr. Catherine Woteki, Dr. Fidelis (Fidel) Hegngi, with the APHIS National Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) Program, and Dr. Denise Brinson Director of APHIS National Poultry Improvement Plan, pose wearing the latest in functional and fashionable wear before visiting a backyard chicken coop.

During a walk along tree-shading sidewalks in the “burbs”; you’re accustomed to seeing games of hopscotch, bike rides, and maybe even the occasional Golden Retriever. However, one residential backyard, nearly 6 miles from downtown Atlanta, calls into question whether this is suburbia at all. There were swings, a tree house, and even patio furniture. Yet one feature certified this was not your mother’s suburban home: over a dozen chickens living comfortably in a custom made “Coop de Ville.”   

The rise of “backyard poultry” is one of many agricultural phenomena tied to a growing food consciousness and increased urbanization. And while USDA’s fundamental job doesn’t change, the Department does because the challenges do.  The recent cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) at increasingly popular backyard chicken coops underscore this. While this concern was not clearly expressed in the 1862 Act of Congress that created the Department, the mandate was. USDA still works to “acquire and to diffuse…information” towards facilitating the protected growth of American agriculture. That service is what brought Research, Education, and Economics Undersecretary Dr. Catherine Woteki to this residence in Decatur, GA. Accompanied by Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officials and a man known best as the “Chicken Whisperer,” Dr. Woteki toured the site and helped to shed light on current HPAI research and important biosafety measures. Read more »

NIFA Research is Working to Make Every Day World Health Day

USDA is observing World Health Day today.

USDA is observing World Health Day today.

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.

April 7 is World Health Day and food safety is the primary focus—and with good reason.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that, in the United States alone, every year there are 48 million foodborne illnesses and 3,000 deaths from unsafe food.

Most of these illnesses are the result of bacteria, such as Salmonella, that finds its way into various types of food.  About half of all microbial foodborne illnesses are associated with animal foods, and about half from produce.  CDC reports that most illnesses come from leafy greens, which could be contaminated on the farm, during processing, at retail or in the home. Chemicals, such as mercury in fish or mycotoxins from molds are also a concern. Read more »

USDA-NASA’s Global View of Earth’s Soil Holds Many Benefits

The launch gantry is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite aboard at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. SMAP will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. Photo by NASA’s Kim Shiflett.

The launch gantry is rolled back to reveal the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite aboard at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. SMAP will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. Photo by NASA’s Kim Shiflett.

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.

When we think about space missions, we tend to look toward the stars to planets like Mars where robotic rovers roam, gathering data and sending it back to Earth. Rarely do we think about missions closer to home. But a view of Earth from 426 miles above is helping us monitor droughts, predict floods, improve weather forecasts and assist with crop productivity.

This year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched a new satellite called SMAP (Soil Moisture Active-Passive) with the help of a team that included U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hydrologist Susan Moran at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Southwest Watershed Research Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, and physical scientist Wade Crow and hydrologist Thomas Jackson at ARS’s Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. Read more »

Newly Launched AgResearch Magazine Showcases USDA Scientific Research in a New Way

Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) new monthly digital magazine, AgResearch, launches today. Check it out!

Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) new monthly digital magazine, AgResearch, launches today. Check it out!

Today, I am proud to announce the launch of the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) new digital AgResearch magazine.  AgResearch is a monthly product designed to highlight short features on the scientific research discoveries occurring at the 90-plus ARS research laboratories across the Nation and abroad.

The new magazine replaces the previous print edition of the agency’s Agricultural Research magazine, which debuted in early 1953 and published its last print edition in 2013.  Back then, the bimonthly publication focused on agricultural research stories that addressed the growing food, fiber and agricultural needs of post-World War II America.  Today, we still have that same commitment to bring our readers the research discoveries that have an impact on their everyday lives. Read more »

How Does Wildlife Respond When Forest Management Helps to Reduce Wildfire Risk?

Deer mice and chipmunks were among the dominant small mammals in the study area and were mostly unaffected by the fuel reduction treatments. (Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org)

Deer mice and chipmunks were among the dominant small mammals in the study area and were mostly unaffected by the fuel reduction treatments. (Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org)

Forest managers in the western United States often face difficult choices when it comes to reducing wildfire hazards while also maintaining wildlife habitat in forests that have changed dramatically in the last century.

The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and partners are working to find the balance between forest restoration and habitat conservation in a new era of forest management. Read more »