Friday, October 23, 2009
“The strength of the Soil and Water Conservation Society has always been its thoughtful, science-based contribution to natural resource management policy,” Gulliford said. “The role of soil and water resources in issues of energy, climate, water quality and the production of food and fiber has never been more important. I look forward to working with the SWCS Board, its members and staff to assure that the voice of conservation scientists, educators and practitioners is a productive part of policy development and implementation.”
Gulliford has been an active member of the society since 1982 and was president of the Iowa Chapter in 1996. He was also a member of the National Association of State Conservation Agencies from 1982 to 2001, serving as president in 1989.
Read the full press release here.
Friday, August 28, 2009
For more information about this research topic, check out the full article: “Erosion Index Derived from Terrain Attributes using Logistic Regression and Neural Networks.”
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
National Academies Releases Free Executive Summary of America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation: Summary Edition
To view the table of contents, read the executive summary, or purchase the summary edition, visit the National Academies Press Web site. The full version can be preordered here.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The free Webinar will be hosted by the American Society of Agronomy/Crop Science Society of America/Soil Science Society of America. Chief Dave White along with others from NRCS will provide information on the new CSP and will be available to answer questions.
Webinar registration at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/275231451
Additional information on CSP at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Programs/new_csp/csp.html
More than the name has changed! The new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), part of the 2008 Farm Bill, began August 10.
CSP is a new voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers/landowners to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. CSP provides opportunities to both recognize excellent stewards and deliver valuable new conservation. The program will be offered to producers in all 50 states, District of Columbia and the Pacific and Caribbean areas through continuous sign-ups. The initial sign-up began August 10 and continues through September 30.
ASA and SSSA are pleased to host a special USDA update on the program
and are offering this seminar at no charge.
August 19, 2009
12:00 – 1:00 PM Central Time
1:00 – 2:00 PM Eastern Time
Dave White, Chief of NRCS, will provide an overview and highlights of the program. Program leaders Dwayne Howard and Steve Parkin will provide more program information/details and all three will take your questions about program benefits and eligibility requirements.
"This program will help the Nation's agricultural and forestry producers reach greater levels of conservation performance," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The conservation benefits derived from maintaining and enhancing natural resources will improve the quality of soil and water, assist in addressing global climate change, and encourage environmentally responsible energy production."
NRCS: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps America's private land owners and managers conserve their soil, water and other natural resources. NRCS and its nationwide network of partners provide technical assistance based on sound science, as well as financial assistance that helps land owners and managers put conservation practices into service on their farms and ranches. NRCS reaches out to all segments of the agricultural community, including underserved and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to ensure that conservation programs and services are accessible to everyone. NRCS celebrates its 75th year of service in 2010.
Chief White: Dave White was named Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service on March 24, 2009. He began his 32-year career with NRCS as a conservation aid in Missouri. Subsequently, he has served the agency in South Carolina, Montana and its Washington, D.C. headquarters. As Chief, he leads 12,000 employees and manages a budget in excess of $3 billion. From 2002 to 2008, Mr. White was assigned as the NRCS State Conservationist in Montana. For much of 2007 and 2008, he was also detailed to Senator Tom Harkin's Capitol Hill office, where he helped the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry craft the Conservation Title of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Chief White's earlier jobs in Washington, D.C. include two details to the staff of Senator Richard Lugar, in support of agriculture committee work on energy and alternative fuels and the 2002 Farm Bill, and a tour as Director of Communications for the White House Task Force for Livable Communities. Mr. White is an honors graduate of the University of Missouri, where he studied agriculture. He and his wife have a grown son and daughter.
Dwayne Howard: Dwayne Howard is the Branch Chief for NRCS Stewardship Programs. Dwayne's primary area of responsibility is managing the Conservation Security and Conservation Stewardship Programs. He has worked for NRCS for nearly 32 years at the field and state level in Indiana and has been in his current position at NRCS Headquarters since 2006.
Steve Parkin: Steve Parkin is a Stewardship Program Management Specialist. Parkin grew up on a working farm in Eastern Kansas. Over the past 29 years, he has held NRCS leadership positions at the field, area, state, and national levels.
If you are unable to participate, the session will be archived.
The seminar will be conducted online. However, participants may dial-in via their phone line (at their cost - the dial-in number will not be an 800 number). All participants will need internet access and your computer must be equipped with a soundcard and internal or external speakers. For those attendees wishing to access the seminar via phone only, you will still need to login prior to the seminar to access the dial-in number.
If you have any questions, please contact Michele Lovejoy, e-mail: email@example.com or phone: 608-268-4953.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
By PHILIP BRASHER • firstname.lastname@example.org • August 9, 2009
Washington, D.C. - Farm programs have long rewarded farmers for growing certain types of crops such as corn and soybeans. Congress wants to pay farmers according to how they farm, not just what they grow.
The result is the new Conservation Stewardship Program, a revamped and better-funded version of the old Conservation Security Program. Farmers nationwide can start signing up for the new program, starting Monday.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The debate began because a Sydney-based bottling company wanted to use a local aquifer as a source for its bottled water. As residents began to dislike the increase in truck traffic that would accompany the usage of their aquifer, they also began to oppose the environmental impact of transporting water for packaging and then for distribution.
As awareness grew, it was proposed that perhaps the town shouldn’t support bottled water at all. 356 people attended the meeting to vote on the bottled water ban. By show of hands, only one objected.
The reason varies between ban supporters—besides the environmental implications, some people expressed concern about the chemicals in plastic and others saw it as an exhibition against the water plant.
The effects of the ban are voluntary, but the town’s retailers have decided to stop selling bottled water in September. Reusable bottles will be sold instead, with the intent that available water fountains can be used to fill the bottles.
Bundanoon’s ban has increased awareness about the bottled water debate. For more information, please see the full New York Times article here.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Researchers in Germany used a new analytical method to detect artificial sweeteners in waste and surface water. Out of the seven sweeteners they tested for, they found four: acesulfame, saccharin, cyclamate, and sucralose. These sweeteners are making it through the sewage treatment process, indicating that sweeteners are polluting rivers and streams that receive water from sewage treatment plants. In previous studies, only sucralose had been detected.
Click here for more information on this research.
Climate change is affecting the entire forest sector with all its stakeholders and is perceived as a common challenge. A decision for whether and how forests will be dealt with in the post 2012 climate arrangement is expected to be negotiated at the UNCCC COP 15 at Copenhagen, Denmark, in early December. In preparation for Copenhagen 2009, the XIII World Forests Congress invites the global community to a Forum on Forests and Climate Change, a unique occasion for debate which aims to produce a recommendation of a technical nature, which will be presented to the UNCCC COP 15.
Forests are linked with climate change in various ways - they are affected by climate change, when degraded or removed, they contribute to climate change through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and they contribute to climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during afforestation and reforestation. Furthermore, the use of wood for products and fuel reduces GHG emissions from competing, more carbon-intensive products.
According to the FAO (2005), deforestation worldwide, mainly conversion of forests to agricultural land, continues at an alarming rate (approximately 13 million hectares per year for the period 1990–2005). Deforestation and forest degradation result in immediate release of the carbon originally stored in the trees as CO2 emissions, particularly if the trees are burned, and the biomass decays. The IPCC WG III (2007) estimated emissions from deforestation in the 1990s to be at 5.8 GtCO2/yr, accounting for roughly 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC also notes that reducing and/or preventing deforestation and forest degradation are the mitigation option with the largest and most immediate global carbon stock impact in the short term, per hectare and per year, as the release of carbon as emissions into the atmosphere is prevented.
With the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report has come more certainty that climate change is an inevitable consequence of past and present human activities. Observations of current impacts of climate-mediated events on forests include diebacks and mass mortality and changes in tree physiology, forest biodiversity, forest growth and productivity. Forests interact intimately with climate and are also an essential part of many societies, especially in the developing world. Climate change is already affecting people and livelihoods and in despite of incomplete knowledge and uncertainties, forest adaptation is possible, but it is necessary to have a plan and act rapidly.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Agricultural practices are the primary cause of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Conservation efforts should help reduce agriculture’s impact on the gulf, but a new report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that relying on voluntary participation for conservation effort is not enough. Their report recommends targeting taxpayer money to the highest priority locations, particularly in the Mississippi River watershed, to make the most of the money and to have the most improvement on water quality.
This new EWG report is called Making EQIP Work for Water Quality in 10 Mississippi River Border States. The EWG recommends that the USDA NRCS takes action to increase the effectiveness of the EQIP program, including setting specific goals for how much pollution needs to be reduced, identifying which lakes, streams or tributaries are priorities for improvement, and setting a timetable to achieve the goals.
More information about this report can be found here.
Monday, June 8, 2009
A new act, called the Clean Water Restoration Act, would update the old law with text that clearly outlines what bodies of water are protected. It would protect rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands from pollution and would give protected status back to the bodies of water that have lost it since 2001.
You can help. Click here to use a template email to contact your senator to make sure the Clean Water Restoration Act becomes law.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
In a recent study published in Science Magazine, ethanol and bioelectricity were compared to determine their environmental impacts. Two factors were considered: how much cropland is used and the effectiveness at reducing greenhouse gas emissions when used as fuel.
Ethanol is a liquid fuel that can be used like gasoline to power vehicles. It is produced from plant biomass, like corn or switchgrass. Bioelectricity comes from the same type of source—biomass—but in this case the biomass is used to produce electricity, which is then used to power an electric car battery.
Bioelectricity outpaced ethanol by 81% in terms of land use, and it also offset 108% more greenhouse gas emissions. The source of the biomass did not affect the results; bioelectricity was the clear winner. For example, a small SUV could travel about 14,000 miles using bioelectricity produced from an acre of switchgrass, but it could only travel 9,000 miles using ethanol made with the same parameters. Bioelectricity is even more appealing because it has more potential to make use of carbon capture technology, which would offset even more carbon emissions.
Campbell offered an explanation for ethanol’s poor performance relative to bioelectricity.
"The internal combustion engine just isn't very efficient, especially when compared to electric vehicles," said Campbell. "Even the best ethanol-producing technologies with hybrid vehicles aren't enough to overcome this."
Still, more research should be completed before concluding that bioelectricity is the best approach.
"We also need to compare these options for other issues like water consumption, air pollution, and economic costs," said David Lobell of Stanford’s Program on Food Security and the Environment.
For more information on this study, go here.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
"The objective of this initiative is to make organic food producers eligible to compete for EQIP financial assistance," said Merrigan.
Both National Organic Program certified organic producers and producers who are moving toward organic practices may apply. If you are interested, you should visit your nearest USDA Service Center to make sure you are eligible. Applications must be turned in by May 29.
Applications will be ranked using two National Screening Tools (one for certified producers and one for producers who are transitioning to organic practices). Ranking will be based on core conservation practices and resources concerns related to National Organic Program objectives. For a list of the objectives or for more information, go here.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
A team of Swedish and German scientists decided to consider future water availability using both “blue” and “green” water. Blue water is what is usually considered when trying to determine if there will be enough water; it includes river discharge and groundwater. What makes this study unique is that it also looks at “green” water, which is water that is present due to rainfall. The results of this research show that well-managed rainfall will provide enough water for many countries to grow food to sustain their populations, despite population increases and climate change.
“Much of the past debate regarding various water-scarce regions focused on the absence of water rather than the opportunities linked to the presence of water,” says lead author Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
The research team plans to cooperate in future studies to explore specific green water management methods to expand future food production opportunities. More information about the current article is available from ScienceDaily.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Congress elected to dedicate the National Plant Materials Center in honor of Berg in the 2008 farm bill. The ceremony will be led by Dave White, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is sponsoring the event.
All are welcome to attend. Be sure to RSVP to Ayana Williford by phone (202-720-3210) or email (Ayana.Williford@wdc.usda.gov). You should also plan to arrive early.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
64th International SWCS Annual Conference
July 11-15, 2009 in Dearborn, Michigan
As a part of the planning for the 2009 SWCS Annual Conference, we are pleased to bring you a series of podcasts featuring key members of the program committee and planning team for the conference.
Today’s podcast is from Gene Rosow, Director/Producer of DIRT! The Movie. We are very excited to be hosting a screening of the documentary as the special event on Monday night at the 2009 Annual Conference. Following the screening, Mr. Rosow will be our special guest for an informal question and answer session. The event is being presented by EnviroCert International.
To listen to the podcast, go to www.swcs.org/acpodcasts
Friday, May 1, 2009
July 11-15, 2009 in Dearborn, Michigan
As a part of the planning for the 2009 SWCS Annual Conference, we are pleased to bring you a series of podcasts featuring key members of the program committee and planning team for the conference. Today’s podcast is from Jeff Strock, Annual Conference Program Chair and Associate Professor of Soil Science at the University of Minnesota.
To listen, go to www.swcs.org/acpodcasts
This year, the overarching theme of the conference is Delivering Conservation, Today and Tomorrow. Conference highlights include a screening of Dirt! The Movie (and a Q&A session with one of the directors); 24 symposia, more than 150 oral and poster sessions, eight tours, and a variety of additional networking opportunities. Registration and more information is online at www.swcs.org/09ac
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Farming with Grass: Achieving Sustainable Mixed Agricultural Landscapes was inspired by a conference with the same name, which brought together diverse stakeholders in grassland environments.
The purpose of the conference was to (1) help assess the current condition of agriculture, (2) consider alternative production scenarios for grassland agricultural ecosystems, (3) identify key
issues hindering the development of more sustainable systems, and (4) clarify the role of science and government policies in developing options for the future. The Farming with Grass book documents the valuable information collected during this conference.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The goal of the World Water Monitoring Day Program is to engage one million people in one hundred countries in monitoring local waterways by 2012. In 2008, 73,510 people participated worldwide, which was a 60% increase from 2007, according to the program’s Year in Review. People can participate on their own or they can work as a team through their school, university, community, or common-interest group.
Participants test water for dissolved oxygen levels, pH, temperature, and turbidity (clarity). They report results on the World Water Monitoring Day Web site.
World Water Monitoring Day is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens in conducting basic monitoring of their local water bodies. For more information about the program, how to participate, or past results, go to the World Water Monitoring Day Web site: http://www.worldwatermonitoringday.org.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The Nature Conservancy in Iowa is working to restore habitat on an 80 ac floodplain that is rich in biological diversity. The Nature Conservancy’s Swamp White Oak savanna, in southeastern Iowa, is the focus of this project. In the past, fire and seasonal floods limited plant growth and maintained the delicate ecosystem. Recently, however, inadequate fires have not limited growth leading to unnatural tree density. As a result, new oak trees have not had a chance to grow. In addition, floods have been so severe that they have interfered with native populations. Invasive plant species, including reed canary grass and garlic mustard, are also upsetting the natural balance of the savanna.
Research by Connie Dettman Rose will be used as a guide for the restoration plans. Rose has extensively studied survey records of native species.
“Restoration efforts will include opening of the closed canopy to a more savanna-like condition and invasive species removal. We will then return fire to the landscape,” said Jennifer Filipiak, director of conservation science for the Conservancy in Iowa.
For more information on this restoration effort, view the full article here.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
"The world has no alternative to pursuing Sustainable Crop Production Intensification to meet the growing food and feed demand, to alleviate poverty and to protect its natural resources. Conservation Agriculture is an essential element of that Intensification," Pandey said.
To increase production, farmers throughout the world have made similar mistakes: ploughing too often, applying too much fertilizer or pesticide, or providing too much irrigation water. While these strategies may appear effective in the short-term, they have long term consequences that reduce productivity.
To increase production effectively over the long term, farming practice changes should be focused on conservation agriculture, which is a practice that eliminates ploughing and includes the use of crop rotation and permanent soil cover.
Conservation agriculture helps increase productivity, but it has additional benefits as well. It reduces the carbon footprint created by farming and reduces water loss since healthy soil loses less water to evaporation. For more detail about Pandev’s presentation or recommendations, view the full article here.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
“Though we still live from the land, as we always have and always must, we now live with the land less than ever before,” Wendell Berry, “Living with the Land” chapter.
Cherish the work started by conservation fathers Aldo Leopold and Hugh Hammond Bennett, learn about the growth of conservation ethic, and challenge yourself to consider future conservation implications, all by reading one book. Relationship with the Land includes a collection of the most thought-provoking articles that have appeared in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation within the last 60 years, as well as two invited essays that bring an international perspective and a controversial idea to the conservation conversation.
Relationship with the Land includes four sections:
· Hugh Hammond Bennett and the Soil Conservation Movement
· Aldo Leopold and the Land Ethic
· Development of Conservation Thought on Land Stewardship and Natural Resource Values
· The Future of the Conservation Land Ethic
“Each of us has the right to own and enjoy property, whether that property is a dollar bill, a book, or an acre of farmland…We cannot use the dollar to pay for commission of a crime, or the book to hit somebody over the head, or that farmland in a way that diminishes the private or public values of our neighbors,” Neil Sampson, “Achieving Public Values on Private Land” chapter.
“While the claim of the moral “high ground” on the basis of values may be personally gratifying, it has diverted needed attention away from understanding why land owners may be unwilling or unable to act on these values.” Pete Nowak, “Of What Value are Values in Resource Management?”
Relationship with the Land is now available at the SWCS Online Store.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Adel, Ia. - State agriculture officials think they have the solution to the pollution problems caused by water that drains off the state's farms: Drain the water faster.
Shallow ponds like the one created with federal money on a Dallas County farm can destroy much of the pollution that runs off neighboring corn fields and eventually into Des Moines-area water supplies and on to the Gulf of Mexico.
Read the article...
Don't just read it, talk about it! Post your thoughts below in the comments or on the SWCS Network at http://swcsnetwork.ning.com/
Thursday, February 5, 2009
"USDA is proud to collaborate with the State of Hawaii on this important agreement that will improve the state's water quality and wildlife habitat. It will protect the Hawaiian Islands' vital watersheds and riparian areas on marginal pastureland and cropland," said Carolyn Cooksie, acting administrator of the USDA Farm Service Agency.
The partnership, which is based on a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement, will encourage preservation and restoration of land on Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai, and Oahu. The goal for this project is to enroll 2,000 acres for forest restoration and 13,000 acres for wetland restoration.
Participation in this program is voluntary, and the signup date will be announced soon. For more information about available practices and incentives, click here.