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Agricultural Research Service

APHIS and Partners Sponsor Annual Honey Bee Survey Directed at Monitoring Bee Health

About one mouthful in three in our diets directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination. That makes bees critically valuable to humans’ existence. For this reason the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) documents issues affecting honey bee health through the annual National Honey Bee Survey (NHBS). The survey collects data on bee health to understand long term trends, factors that drive bee health, ways to safeguard bee populations in the United States. Bee pollination is responsible for $15+ billion in added crop value -- particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. We need the economic benefits, as well as the nourishment, that bees provide to us through their role in pollination.

Vertical Farming for the Future

Imagine walking into your local grocery story on a frigid January day to pick up freshly harvested lettuce, fragrant basil, juicy sweet strawberries, and ripe red tomatoes – all of which were harvested at a local farm only hours before you’d arrived. You might be imagining buying that fresh produce from vertical farms where farmers can grow indoors year-round by controlling light, temperature, water, and oftentimes carbon dioxide levels as well. Generally, fresh produce grown in vertical farms travels only a few miles to reach grocery store shelves compared to conventional produce, which can travel thousands of miles by truck or plane.

Employing Wheat's Bacterial Partners to Fight a Pathogen

Fusarium head blight is a devastating fungal disease affecting wheat and barley crops worldwide. According to the American Phytopathological Society, this disease has cost U.S. wheat and barley farmers more than $3 billion since 1990. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, together with land managers and other scientists at research universities, are taking a variety of approaches to solving this problem. These include breeding resistant cultivars, using massive disease-forecasting models and applying fungicides during critical junctures in crop growth to prevent fusarium head blight. Recently, many scientists have also become interested in the idea of employing microbial species that already live on and inside crop plants to do the dirty work of controlling disease epidemics.

Grass-Cast: A New Grassland Productivity Forecast for the Northern Great Plains

Every spring, ranchers face the same difficult challenge—trying to guess how much grass will be available for livestock to graze during the upcoming summer. In May, a new Grassland Productivity Forecast or “Grass-Cast” has published its first forecast to help producers in the northern Great Plains reduce this economically important source of uncertainty.

ARS Scientists Explore Ways to Minimize Runoff from Golf Courses

More than 20 million people play golf on the estimated 14,000 golf courses in the United States. As Americans head for the links this year, golf course managers and superintendents know it’s important not only to maintain the greens and fairways, but also to minimize the risk of pesticides and fertilizers flowing into nearby ponds, streams or lakes.

Protecting the Military from Flying Foes

For over 75 years, USDA scientists have been developing ways to protect the U.S. military around the world from powerful adversaries—mosquitoes and other biting arthropods that cause disease. Their work began in 1942 in a small USDA field laboratory in Orlando, where scientists made key discoveries about new chemicals for controlling these pests. At the time, the most effective repellents lasted only 2 hours, and the U.S. military needed a repellent that could protect for 10 hours.