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Research And Science

Our Nation’s Commitment to Rural Quality of Life Began with a Seminal Idea

We have schools to teach the art of manslaying… Shall we not have schools to teach men the way to feed, clothe, and enlighten the brotherhood of man? - Justin Smith Morrill, April 20, 1858

By 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, Justin Smith Morrill, the representative from Vermont, with little formal education beyond 8th grade level, had accomplished his vision of having schools teach the way to feed, clothe, and enlighten.

Getting “Ticked Off” with Ticks

As we kickoff the traditional start to the summer and head outdoors, remember to apply that sunscreen. Oh, and watch for ticks. According to Andrew Li, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist who is leading a new deer tick control program, they’re out in force, too. Experts predict 2017 will see the highest number in years of these sesame-seed-size parasites—also known as “blacklegged ticks”—that spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Being Serious about Saving Bees

Pollinators are a vital part of agricultural production. In the United States, more than one-third of all crop production – 90 crops ranging from nuts to berries to flowering vegetables - requires insect pollination. Managed honey bee colonies are our primary pollinators, adding at least $15 billion a year by increasing yields and helping to ensure superior-quality harvests.

Celebrating Cultural Heritage with Mouthwatering Meals

Looking for recipes that are both flavorful and nutritious? Nutrition.gov has added new resources that can help you. The newly enhanced Nutrition.gov includes an Ethnic Cooking section on the Shopping, Cooking & Meal Planning page designed to fit the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Nutrition.gov collaborated with a range of government agencies to feature links to educational materials, videos, books and websites offering a wide array of healthy, culturally-based recipes.

Open Data Revolution to Fight Global Hunger

Every day, people around the world use data to make decisions. When heading out of town, most of us use weather apps to check the forecast anywhere in the world before packing our bags. However, when we travel to far-flung places, we may find ourselves packing food from home because we don’t know what may be available when we arrive. We have a global, comprehensive, open data set that enables weather forecasting, but not something similar for food and agriculture?

Serving Twice: Military Veteran Farmers Get a New Question in the Census of Agriculture

I am a rancher and a military veteran, in addition to being a data collection coordinator for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That makes me particularly passionate about one of the additions to this year’s Census of Agriculture: a question about military veteran status. All of us will have the opportunity to document on the census whether we have served or are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard.

ARS Scientist’s Life-Saving Work Fighting Parasite Earns Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal Recognition

By probing the life cycles of parasites, Jitender Dubey’s research during the past 40 years has been instrumental in saving lives, curbing disabilities in newborn infants and greatly reducing the number of horses, cattle and lambs killed each year by infectious diseases.

Dubey, a parasitologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, Maryland, is being honored today as a finalist for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, also known as the “Sammies.” The Sammies are given each year to federal employees who have distinguished themselves by making our country safer, healthier and stronger.

Earthworms Work Wonders for Soils

Think earthworms are only good for fish bait? Think again! Earthworms play a valuable role in soil health and viability in forests, prairies, gardens and even on farmland.

Earth Day is a good time to recognize earthworms as environmental helpers. They feed primarily on organic material in soils, eating fresh and decaying material from plant roots, including crops like corn and soybeans. As they feed, they move and mix their waste with the soil in a moist, microbe-rich environment. Earthworm tunnels bring in oxygen, drain water and create space for plant roots. Their natural feeding habits mean that small amounts of soil pass through their bodies and, surprisingly, when they excrete it, it is in better condition—what goes in comes out much better!

The Benefits of Studying a Domestic Goat with an Interesting History

In much of the developing world, goats are essential for survival and are highly valued for their meat, milk and hides. So it should come as no surprise that Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and academic and industry colleagues, working with DNA from a domestic goat, used new technologies to develop a vastly improved and relatively inexpensive reference goat genome. This information will serve as a kind of instruction manual for scientists showing them how to use the same technologies to lower the cost of developing improved livestock genomes.

Using the World's Oldest Apple Trees to Supply New Ones

Considering the many different types of apples we see at farmers markets and supermarkets, it may be hard to believe that apple trees are not as diverse as they should be. But it isn’t the fruit-bearing part of the apple tree that’s the problem, it’s the apple tree’s rootstock.

Most of today’s commercially produced apples are from trees that were bred in two parts—the fruit-bearing scion that makes up the higher branches and tree tops, and the rootstock that forms the roots and lower trunk.