U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) engineer Kevin King (right) explains an edge of field water quality monitoring station to Ohio State Conservationist Terry Cosby, farm owners Joe and Clint Nester in the Western Lake Erie Basin near Bryan, Ohio on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. The device allows tracking of both surface and underground water moving thru field tile. Monitoring stations results help determine what may be best farming practices on different types of soil in the watershed. USDA photo by Garth Clark.
USDA has a long history of investment in water quality and quantity issues. Still, Toledo, Ohio Mayor Michael Collins issued an emergency water advisory leaving about 500,000 people without clean tap water to drink or cook with from Aug. 2 to Aug. 4. The reason for the advisory: toxins produced by algae in Lake Erie got into the city’s water supply. Residents were forced to rely on bottled and trucked-in water for drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth. The Lake Erie algae bloom incident shows we all have a lot more work to do to ensure adequate water supplies for now and into the future.
In response to the algae bloom incident, USDA leadership, represented by Terry Cosby, NRCS state conservationist, joined Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Marcy Kaptur, this week to immediately announce $2 million in new federal emergency funds to reduce runoff in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Read more »
A male sockeye swims in Alaska’s Steep Creek on the Tongass National Forest. Just below the sockeye are coho fry. (U.S. Forest Service/Pete Schneider)
NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, we moved the salmon cam to the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OuM4U3Z1jU
Gordie Reeves looks at salmon the way a man would look at pictures of his family. For Reeves, the salmon species is pretty much the best fish species around.
“They are dandelions of the fish world,” said Reeves, a research fish ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. “They have this mechanism or strategy for persisting. We are under the illusion that everything in a stream should be perfect all the time, but that’s not true. It’s not the way the world works. Salmon do a terrific job under really incredible odds.”
Nature lovers can get a glimpse of salmon runs through a live streaming video. For the second year, the Forest Service is streaming from the bed of Juneau’s Steep Creek on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Read more »
Marsh grasses in Maryland provide valuable habitat for wildlife and help filter runoff from nearby farms. NRCS photo.
The Chesapeake Bay is a valuable resource. The Bay is home to a variety of species, such as blue crab and striped bass, provides jobs for local fishing communities, and serves as a place to interact with nature. About a quarter of the land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is devoted to agriculture. The crops and livestock produced in this region provide food and fiber for millions of Americans. But these agricultural lands do more than produce food—they can play a role in improving the Bay’s water quality.
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked with the Bay states to set water quality goals for the Chesapeake Bay and to develop Watershed Improvement Plans, or “WIPs,” for each of the states. Read more »
Andreas Farm installed a buffer to help improve water quality. NRCS photo.
Running an economical and environmentally friendly dairy operation is a tough job but Andreas Farms is dedicated to meeting the challenge. That challenge involves running an efficient milking operation of more than 1,500 dairy cows while also managing tons of animal waste.
Dan Andreas is a dairy man who runs the successful operation that produces 38 million pounds of milk each year, and he’s a conservationist who strives to protect his hometown’s watershed. The East Branch South Fork Sugar Creek watershed is one of three priority Ohio watersheds that are in critical need of water quality improvements. Read more »
ARS cotton technologist Paul Sawhney (left) and research leader Brian Condon examine needled-punched nonwoven products made with classical raw cotton and precleaned raw cotton, respectively.
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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
During the month of April we have taken a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine.
Ag research month has been an excellent opportunity to showcase all the ways in which USDA is truly the “People’s Department.”
That’s how President Lincoln described it after USDA was established in 1862. More than 150 years later, we continue to find innovative ways to improve agricultural production and create new products to benefit the American people. Read more »
Molly Stetz, a graduate student in wetland ecology in New York, gives of her time and expertise to NRCS through the Earth Team program. NRCS photo.
When not in class, Molly Stetz volunteered her time to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), assisting with the agency’s efforts to restore wetlands and curb other environmental concerns.
As part of National Volunteer Week, NRCS is celebrating the contributions of volunteers like Stetz that help the agency advance the conservation mission through Earth Team.
Stetz, a graduate student in wetland ecology at the State University of New York at Brockport, donated more than 900 hours to NRCS through the agency’s Earth Team volunteer program. Read more »