Help Save Pollinators with these Conservation Tips

image

This week, help NRCS celebrate National Pollinator Week by:

  1. Using pollinator-friendly plants on your land. These include native shrubs, wildflowers, and trees such as cherry, willow, maple, and poplar, which provide pollen or nectar early in the spring when food is scarce.
  2. Planting a diverse mixture of flowers for spring, summer, and fall. Diverse colors, shapes, and scents attract a variety of fluttering and crawling pollinators. If you have limited space, you can plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony, and window box. 
  3. Finding non-chemical solutions to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides. Incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control and, if you do use pesticides, follow the listed instructions carefully and use sparingly.
  4. Expecting some damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae. This is natural and sustainable in a healthy environment.
  5. Providing clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath and partially-submerged stones for perches.
  6. Leaving dead tree trunks, also called “snags,” in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  7. Supporting land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat.


Learn more about pollinators by visiting www.nrcs.usda.gov/pollinators

Live Bee Cam: Worker Bees Collect Pollen and Nectar for Honey

The Peoples Garden Apiary is bursting with activity this spring. Get a front row seat with the USDA Bee Watch as female honeybees working to collect nectar and pollen to convert to honey.

The first beehive was installed on Earth Day in 2010 and a second hive was later added in 2011. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland helps keep these colonies of bees strong and healthy so they can pollinate crops growing at National Headquarter’s People’s Garden and neighboring landscapes. An added bonus is the delicious honey, approximately 18 gallons worth, extracted from the hive since 2010.

The beehives consist of wooden box-like sections stacked on top of each other. Each box (or super) holds 8-10 wooden frames, each containing a thin sheet of wax foundation. The bees build their combs on these foundations.

Honey is stored in the combs in the upper parts of the hive. When the bees have filled the combs in the upper section with honey and covered them with wax caps, the beekeeper takes them away to extract the honey. Take a virtual tour of the People’s Garden Apiary for a look inside the hive and the fascinating world of beekeeping.

Happy Pollinator Week!

The Water Cycle: Nature’s recycling system.

Ever wonder what it’d be like to have animated geese guide you through the water cycle? Here’s your chance to find out.

The water cycle shows how intimately connected our world is. By affecting one thing, you effect everything. From soil to water, conservation improves our environment.

Conservation improves crop yields, buffers against drought and saves money on farming costs. It also mitigates climate change, provides wildlife habitat and improves the quality of air and water. Everyone wins with conservation.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps private landowners set up voluntary conservation practices on their land. Our experts work with you to create a custom plan for your farm.

We provide technical and financial assistance for practices that benefit agriculture and the environment.

With field offices located in nearly every county of the United States, getting started is easy. Hope to see you soon.

Pollinator Week is next week (June 16-20). 

Pollinators make our life more colorful and palatable. After all, three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and more than one-third of our food depends on pollinators. The world we know is shaped by pollinators.

Unfortunately, they’re in trouble. Pollinators face many challenges in the modern world, including habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants. 

Follow us on Twitter (@USDA_NRCS) next week and we’ll discuss conservation solutions to help pollinators recover.

The 1930s Dust Bowl taught us that plants play a critical role in the health of our environment. At that time, USDA created a number of Soil Conservation Nurseries throughout the country to grow and distribute plants to stabilize severely eroding lands. Since the mid-1930s, this need for conservation plants has grown into the present day Plant Materials Program.

The Plant Materials Program selects conservation plants and develops innovative planting technology to address today’s natural resource challenges and maintain healthy and productive farms and ranches.

The Program conducts its plant evaluation activities under the guiding philosophy of Dr. Franklin J. Crider, first head of the Plant Materials Section: “In most cases nature has evolved a plant for almost every growing condition.” These plants and the associated plant technologies are invaluable resources in the implementation of USDA conservation programs.

PMCs are located across the Nation and develop plantings based on local and regional resource concerns.

Click to view larger map of PMCs and Service Areas

Every 1% of organic matter…holds 17-25,000 gallons of water per acre." -Ray "the Soil Guy" Archuleta

Maximizing Ag Production Through Good Soil Health

NRCS soil spokesman Ray Archuleta presented this powerful soil health demonstration at the 2014 Soil Commodity Classic. With much of the U.S. suffering drought, water conservation has never been more important.

The answer to many modern challenges, from climate change to food production, begins with healthy soil.

Riparian Buffers

Earlier this month NRCS leadership traveled to Washington State to listen to the resource concerns of local farmers and tribal members. A main concern is the effect agriculture has on water quality.

Riparian buffers are streamside vegetation that improve water quality by capturing nutrients and sediments, and cooling the water with shade.

Improving water quality and wildlife habitat are two of NRCS’ core missions. We are eager to work with landowners and partners to put conservation on the ground. 

Find out more about riparian buffers and how they can improve your water quality.

Innovative Partnerships that Leverage Partner Investments
“As venture capitalists provide financial resources to burgeoning, high-potential growth startups, NRCS must lead in a new venture conservationist movement that empowers and launches new, high-opportunity startup partnerships that deliver locally-led conservation solutions.”                                 —NRCS Chief Weller
Proposals are now being accepted for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a new Farm Bill program with an historic focus on public-private partnership.
RCPP opens a new era in American conservation efforts, providing private companies, local communities, and other non-government partners a way to invest in conservation projects they have designed specifically for their region.
Through RCPP, partners propose conservation projects to improve soil health; water quality and water use efficiency; wildlife habitat; and other related natural resources on private lands.
While $400 million in funding is available for the first year, USDA will also invest up to $1.2 billion in the program over the next five years and expects to leverage just as much in funding through partnership contributions.
For more information on RCPP, visit http://goo.gl/JDPKa1.
If you have questions about RCPP, tune in to our Q&A Twitter chat, June 3rd, 2pm EST.

Innovative Partnerships that Leverage Partner Investments

“As venture capitalists provide financial resources to burgeoning, high-potential growth startups, NRCS must lead in a new venture conservationist movement that empowers and launches new, high-opportunity startup partnerships that deliver locally-led conservation solutions.”                                 —NRCS Chief Weller

Proposals are now being accepted for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), a new Farm Bill program with an historic focus on public-private partnership.

RCPP opens a new era in American conservation efforts, providing private companies, local communities, and other non-government partners a way to invest in conservation projects they have designed specifically for their region.

Through RCPP, partners propose conservation projects to improve soil health; water quality and water use efficiency; wildlife habitat; and other related natural resources on private lands.

While $400 million in funding is available for the first year, USDA will also invest up to $1.2 billion in the program over the next five years and expects to leverage just as much in funding through partnership contributions.

For more information on RCPP, visit http://goo.gl/JDPKa1.

If you have questions about RCPP, tune in to our Q&A Twitter chat, June 3rd, 2pm EST.

Celebrating NRCS’ Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Today NRCS is celebrating National Endangered Species Day by spotlighting how farmers, ranchers and forest landowners make voluntary improvements to their land, helping save habitats for at-risk, threatened and endangered species.

Through NRCS’ Working Lands for Wildlife partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, owners and managers of working lands receive funding and technical assistance to create and enhance wildlife habitat for many different species, including those facing population peril.

Here are seven remarkable creatures that benefit from habitat enhancements when farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners work with NRCS:

image

Species 1: The lesser prairie-chicken is a grassland-nesting bird of the southern Great Plains. Photo by Linda Rockwell, NRCS.

image

Species 2: NRCS works with owners and managers of working lands to create thickets, the perfect habitat for the New England cotton tail. NRCS photo.

image

Species 3: NRCS works with owners and managers of working lands to enhance the landscape around rivers and streams to help the southwestern willow flycatcher. NRCS photo.

image

Species 4: The greater sage grouse thrives in the sagebrush landscape of the West. NRCS photo.

image

Species 5: The gopher tortoise is the keystone species of the Southeast’s longleaf pine forests. More than 300 species depend on gopher tortoise burrows.

image

Species 6: Bog turtles serve as a good indicator of clean water and healthy wetlands. NRCS photo.

image

Species 7: The golden wing warbler depends on thick, shrubby habitat, and NRCS is helping owners and managers of working lands enhance habitat for them. Photo by Greg Lavaty, NRCS.

Learn more about how farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners help bring back these remarkable creatures here

Be a friend to pollinators

Do you like eating apples, blueberries, strawberries, chocolate, almonds, peaches or pumpkins? You can thank pollinators.

In fact, one-third of our food comes from animal and insect-pollinated plants. Pollinators play a critical part in our food infrastructure and ag economy. Unfortunately, they’re in trouble.

Bees, bats and other pollinators face many challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, disease, parasites and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species of pollinators.

We can help them. There are many things you can do to attract and nourish pollinators. They’ll more than repay the favor.