Drainage Water Management 

This practice allows farmers to control how much water drains off their land. Benefits include:

  • Increased yields;
  • Water conservation;
  • Reduced nutrient loss; and
  • Improved water quality.

Conservation makes your land more productive, healthy and environmentally friendly.

To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Carry on the Tradition

In the past, it was customary for people to have a household garden. But with time, this practice faded.

Millie Titla and her 13-year-old nephew, Noah, want to help bring the tradition back to life.  To do so, they are starting with their local Apache community. Their goal is to help people appreciate what gardens can provide for their families.

“Gardening has been a part of the Apache culture for thousands of years, and we’ve lost the traditional way of gardening throughout the century,” said Millie, who works for NRCS as a district conservationist.

With his aunt as his mentor, Noah’s passion gardening with tribal traditions has increased awareness of the benefits and availability of fresh food on the southeastern Arizona reservation.

“I didn’t know that such a small community could grow such a good amount of crops,” Noah said about his 4-H club’s community garden. Club members share the harvested food with their friends and families.

Through hard work, Noah is making a difference in a state where USDA is targeting assistance through the StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative. Read more here.

To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Weather Drought with Conservation

Did you know healthy soil remains productive during drought? But to achieve healthy soil, conservation is key - helping you retain water and resist desiccation.  

NRCS has resources for drought preparation and relief:

  • Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP): NRCS will customize a conservation plan to make your soil drought-resistant. Cover crops, no-till and crop rotation are a few of the practices for which we provide technical and financial assistance.
  • Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP): NRCS can help communities reseed drought-stricken areas that might be prone to erosion.
  • The National Water and Climate Center (NWCC): this Center monitors snowpack and forecasts water supply for Western states. The staff serves as technical specialists on issues of drought, soil moisture and climate change.
  • The Drought Calculatordeveloped to help ranchers assess the impacts of drought on forage production and make informed decisions for drought strategies.

Additional resources are available at USDA Disaster and Drought and the Drought Monitor.

Whether you want to prepare for potential drought or you need immediate relief, we’re here to help.

To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

That Old-Time Conservation

This Thursday we throwback to the 1930’s, when our agency was in its youth. Originally formed in the wake of the Dust Bowl to prevent further soil erosion, our conservation mission has expanded to protect air and water quality, wildlife habitat and much more.

Conservation is Timeless

In modern times we face many environmental challenges: conservation holds the answer to them all. Let us help you help the land.

To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Big Solutions for Big Challenges

The Gulf of Mexico is a huge area, encompassing more than 290 million acres across five states. Much of the area is delicate ecosystem, supporting industry, recreation and wildlife. 

Comprehensive Conservation

NRCS is working with landowners to restore and protect the Gulf with this five step strategy:

  1. Expand NRCS’ Gulf of Mexico Initiative to restore the health of major rivers in all five Gulf states. 
  2. Increase investments to restore and protect coastal Gulf of Mexico. 
  3. Expand NRCS’ Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative in the lower Mississippi River delta and along all five Gulf Coast states. 
  4. Launch an NRCS “Room for the River” project to restore the Mississippi River’s floodplain. 
  5. Expand NRCS’ Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative in the lower and upper basin states to improve water quality and quantity, and help address the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. 

To learn more about our plans to restore and protect the Gulf region, click here.

To get started with NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.

Do you dream about preventing erosion? Could you improve the water quality of an entire watershed, given the chance? 

Let us help.

Conservation is science-based, and science is always improving. We encourage that progress by awarding annual conservation innovation grants to applicants with the most promising ideas.

If you have an idea but need help testing it, see if our CIG program is a good fit for you. Funding is available at the national and state levels.

How to improve the health of your soil in four easy steps:

1. Minimize soil disturbance. The soil’s natural biological cycles and soil structure can be disrupted through tillage, chemical disturbance or improper livestock grazing. By reducing or eliminating these activities, farmers will benefit from better plant growth, reduced soil erosion, increased profit margins and better wildlife habitat.

2. Energize with diversity. Biodiversity, growing more plants in rotation, increases the success of most agricultural systems. Diversity above ground improves diversity below ground, which provides an ideal habitat for the billions of micro-organisms that perform essential soil ecosystem functions like helping make nutrients available to plants.

3. Keep the soil covered. Using cover crops helps restore soil health, protects against soil erosion and groundwater leaching, and provides livestock feed and wildlife habitat. In addition, cover crops protect the soil ecosystem from temperature extremes and improve plant health.

4. Maximize living roots. Year-round, living roots are essential to provide the food and habitat for soil micro-organisms. These roots also create pores and channels in the soil that provide oxygen and increase water infiltration capacity — which helps makes cropland more resilient to weather extremes like droughts and floods.

Want to Unlock more Secrets in the Soil? Go here.

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