Friday, August 28, 2009

Mapping Erosion to Aid Conservation Planning

Where is the best place to focus conservation practices on farmland? The answer varies depending on many factors, such as the shape and slope of the land and even the conservation practice being introduced. A new research paper by A.C. Pike, T.G. Mueller, A. Schörgendorfer, S.A. Shearer, and A.D. Karathanasis uses logistic regression and neural networks to create maps that highlight areas where channel erosion is common. Grassed waterways can be used to reduce channel erosion, so knowing where the most erosion occurs would be very useful for conservation planning.

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

The America's Energy Future project was created by the Committee on America's Energy Future, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Research Council. The goal of this project is to evaluate energy in relation to the US economy, national security, and climate change. Results from this project have been compiled in a book called America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation: Summary Edition and a free executive summary is available. This summary edition is part of a set; the final version of America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation is scheduled for release later this year.

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

CSP Webinar August 19

Online Seminar on Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

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:

Additional information on CSP at:

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: or phone: 608-268-4953.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Des Moines Register Article: New land program protects environment with simpler rules

New land program protects environment with simpler rules

By PHILIP BRASHER • • 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.