Soil Erosion Modeling: It’s Getting Better All the Time

Melissa Sandfort

About 50 years ago, scientists at the USDA devised the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE), a formula farmers could use to estimate losses from soil erosion. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists will soon release a version that integrates models generated by cutting-edge computer technology, an updated soils database, and new findings about erosion processes. Every conservation plan written by the …


First USDA Virtual Office Hours on Twitter

Chuck Zimmerman

Tomorrow (April 5) at 1:30pm EDT, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will hold the first “USDA Virtual Office Hours on Twitter.” Most of you probably know how this works, especially if you’ve been a participant in AgChat. I’d recommend using TweetChat, Twubs or an app like TweetDeck or HootSuite to follow along. It looks like these planned monthly sessions will focus …

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Government, USDA

Ag Day Activities in DC

Cindy Zimmerman

The annual commemoration of the importance of agriculture is traditionally celebrated on the first day of spring to recognize the start of planting season, but the event in the nation’s capitol is held a little earlier in the month when Congress is in session so lawmakers can attend. This year the date was March 8 and the day in DC …

Audio, Farm Bill, Government, USDA

Vilsack Announces CRP Initiative at Commodity Classic

Cindy Zimmerman

Before heading back to Washington for a White House conservation conference last Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Nashville speaking to corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum farmers and announcing the opportunity for them to enroll a total of 1 million acres of land in a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative to preserve grasslands and wetlands. “By focusing 1 …

Audio, Commodity Classic, Farm Bill, USDA

New Highly Erodible Cropland Initiative for CRP

Melissa Sandfort

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a new conservation initiative to protect up to 750,000 acres of the nation’s most highly erodible croplands. The new initiative will assist producers with targeting their most highly erodible cropland (land with an erodibility index of 20 or greater) by enabling them to plant wildlife-friendly, long-term cover through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Producers …


Administration Backtracks on Child Labor Rules

Cindy Zimmerman

The administration is rethinking plans to prevent children from doing many types of farm work. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) this week announced that a proposal which would have barred children from many on-farm tasks will be revised to allow broader exemptions for parents who own or run agricultural operations. The proposed rules would have prevent children younger than …

AFBF, Farmers, Regulation, USDA

USDA, EPA and Minnesota Make Conservation Pact

Cindy Zimmerman

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Minnesota to develop a new state conservation program for agriculture. The program is designed to increase the voluntary adoption of conservation practices by farmers and ranchers that protect local rivers, streams and other waters by reducing fertilizer …

Conservation, USDA

January 31 Deadline for USDA Conservation Innovation Grants

Cindy Zimmerman

January 31, 2012 is the deadline to submit project pre-proposals for fiscal year 2012 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Pre-proposals support large-scale demonstration projects that test and prove original approaches to conserving America’s private lands. “These conservation grants continue to generate exciting new ideas that help farmers and ranchers run sustainable and profitable …

Conservation, Nutrient Management, USDA

Farm Program Atlas

Cindy Zimmerman

The USDA Economic Research Service has a Farm Program Atlas online for your searching pleasure. The Farm Program Atlas is a web-based interactive mapping tool that displays payment and participation data on major farm programs and covered commodities at the county level — to visualize how these Federal farm programs vary across the United States. Users can select maps displaying …


USDA Incorporates 4R Nutrient Stewardship in New Nutrient Management Standard

Melissa Sandfort

TFI Fertilizer Institute (TFI) commended the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for embracing 4R nutrient stewardship (the right nutrient source at the right rate, the right time, and in the right place) at the national level with its December 13 release of the national conservation practice standard for nutrient management. 4R Nutrient Stewardship is an innovative and science-based approach …

Company Announcement, USDA