About 44 percent of managed honey bee colonies have been lost over the past year. (iStock image)
Without pollinators, we don’t eat—it’s simple as that—and, at the moment, large numbers of pollinators are dying. With the world’s population projected to exceed 9 billion in just the next 30 years or so, that is not a good position for us to be in.
More than 90 species of U.S. specialty crops require pollination, and various animals, including bees, butterflies, moths, bats, and birds are a critical part of the pollinator-plant ecosystem. Despite the myriad species of pollinators available, American farmers rely on one species of honey bee, Apis mellifera, for most of the pollinator services to pollinate their crops. Wild and managed bees together add $15 billion in crop value each year. Read more »
Farmers in Haiti participate in new agriculture classes taught by one of the new vocational agriculture schools. (Photo by Patricia Fulton)
Food security, having a reliable source of safe and nutritious food, is a cornerstone of good human health. In many poor countries around the world, achieving and maintaining food security is a challenge, but it’s a challenge that USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) can help countries meet through its Center for International Programs (CIP).
Patty Fulton, NIFA national program leader for international programs, traveled to Dondon, Haiti, where she served as a mentor to Haitian administrators and teachers at a newly opened vocational agricultural school. The project, managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service in collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, is implemented by a team of agricultural educators from the University of California – Davis (UC Davis). The UC-Davis team created a curriculum and trained school administrators and teachers at the vocational agriculture school in Dondon. Read more »
Residual forest materials are collected from tribal forestland for use in aviation biofuel production. (Image courtesy of NARA)
USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.
Alaska Airlines will conduct a demonstration flight in 2016 using 1,000 gallons of jet fuel made from forest scraps.
The aviation biofuel was derived from twigs and small branches that would otherwise have been burned in slash piles after timber harvest. These forest residuals were provided by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe via the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance Tribal Partnership Program (NARA TPP). TPP and other NARA partnerships are made possible by a $39.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »
A $39.6 million grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is helping turn forest byproducts into biofuel. (Courtesy of NARA)
U.S. airline carriers collectively used more than 16 billion gallons of jet fuel in 2014. Given growing concerns over energy independence and the environment, commercial airlines are looking for secure and reliable alternative jet fuels that reduce global emissions.
To address this problem, researchers at Washington State University formed the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) with biofuels company Gevo, Alaska Airlines, and several other partners across academia, industry, and government. As a result of NARA’s efforts, made possible by a $39.6 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Alaska Airlines is planning to use 1,000 gallons of NARA-produced biofuel in a demonstration flight scheduled for 2016. Read more »
Dorper ewes graze in selected areas in a mixed crop-livestock research project. (Image courtesy of Jonathan Wachter)
Grazing livestock may soon be a common sight in the Palouse region of southeastern Washington, usually known for its rolling hills and grain production.
Jonathan Wachter, a soil science doctoral student at Washington State University, has been working with a local farm to improve the competitiveness of organic mixed crop-livestock systems and their potential adoption by growers in a conventional grain-producing region. Read more »
Nuña beans. USDA-ARS photo.
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.
Indigenous people of the Andes Mountains in South America have farmed the nuña bean (a.k.a. “Peruvian Popping bean”) as a staple crop for centuries. Its colorful, nutty-flavored seed is especially prized for its tendency to pop open when roasted—a cooking method that requires less firewood than boiling in fuel-scarce regions.
At the Agricultural Research Service’s Western Regional Plant Introduction Station in Pullman, Washington, plant geneticist Ted Kisha curates an edible dry bean collection that includes 91 accessions of high-altitude nuña beans grown by Andean farmers in Peru, the origin for this legume member of the Phaseolus vulgaris family. Read more »