- Farm conservation funding on the chopping block
The Trump administration has proposed cutting $4.7 billion, or 21 percent, of the U.S. agriculture budget. If made, those cuts will come from discretionary spending, which includes on-farm conservation funding — as well as food safety, rural development and international food aid.
- Farmers improve soil health, increase productivity
The Soil Health Institute estimates farmers manage some 70 percent of the land in the United States and the individual decisions they make on a daily basis influences soil, air and water quality and other natural resources. The Soil Health Institute was launched in 2013 in Morrisville, North Carolina, to help farmers improve soil health. The Institute emphasizes cover crops and no-tillage to help farmers improve the soil, increase productivity and help the environment.
- Judge throws out Des Moines Water Works nitrate case
A federal judge on March 17 dismissed Des Moines Water Works' pollution lawsuit against drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties, saying that the Iowa Legislature is in position to decide the fate of the state's waterways — and the drainage districts don't have the power. The decision brought an immediate flurry of news releases in which Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and farm groups said the decision takes away a divisive distraction from the work on the voluntary measures called for by the state's Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
- CREP promoted to help save aquifer
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State of Kansas are partners in implementing a voluntary program to encourage Golden Belt farmers along the Arkansas River to decrease irrigation and take other steps to conserve water and help wildlife. The plan is the establishment of a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to enroll up to 28,950 acres of agricultural land in 10 counties to conserve and improve water resources and wildlife habitat through buffers, native grasses, shallow water areas for wildlife and the restoration of wetlands.
- National research initiative aims to improve cover crops
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is part of a $6.6 million research initiative to promote soil health through the development and adoption of new cover crops across the United States. The initiative was launched March 22 by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, which is the lead institution.
- Warm weather brings out cover crops' true colors
Warm 70-degree weather and a lack of snow cover showed Chad Bell's cover-cropped fields to their best advantage, even in the foggy morning that preceded a summerlike February day. But for Bell, who has become a spokesman for the art and science of cover crops in the state, the real benefits of the ryegrass can't be seen from the road.
- Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
Fertilizers, animal waste, changes to atmospheric chemistry and warming soils are all tied to increased ammonia over U.S., Europe, China and India, say researchers as they reveal the first global, long-term satellite study of airborne ammonia. The study, published March 16, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also describes the probable causes for increased airborne ammonia in each region.
- Runoff reduced, water retention increased by multi-paddock grazing
Adaptive multi-paddock grazing has been found to be an effective conservation practice on grazing lands for enhancing water conservation and protecting water quality, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research study at Vernon.
- Cover crops renovate grassland
Cover crops are rejuvenating lackluster hayfields on Darrell Oswald's cow-calf operation near Wing, North Dakota. The alfalfa in the fields had gradually died out, leaving monocultures of domestic perennial grasses. With decreasing plant diversity, the grasses and soils lost vigor, and production dropped.
- Where the greenhouse gases go
Almost half of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the environment is taken up by the world's oceans and the terrestrial biosphere. In this manner, greenhouse gases are partially extracted from the atmosphere, which alleviates the process of global warming. But will the land and the seas be able to continue storing carbon dioxide in the future? Researchers aren't sure. Changes in ocean circulation, woodland clearances and stress reactions in forests could reduce their capacity to act as carbon sinks.