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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2005
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 Thumbnail of cattle in stream

December 19, 2005

Livestock access to Appalachian streams can create water quality problems by direct introduction of pathogens and nutrients to the water. Accelerated stream bank erosion and increased sediment loads are also consequences of livestock in streams. AFSRC is researching ways to minimize livestock access to environmentally sensitive areas.

 Thumbnail of staff installing runoff erosion plots

December 12, 2005

AFSRC researches ways to reduce soil erosion on the central Appalachian hillsides. AFSRC staff are installing a series of runoff-erosion plots to study the effectiveness of various soil additives to stabilize soil.

 Thumbnail of Dr. Staley speaking to Field Day participants

December 5, 2005

AFSRC conducts field days to maintain a dialog with local and regional agriculture professionals. Dr. Thomas Staley, Microbiologist (retired) talks about plant-soil bacterial interactions with an interested audience of field day participants.

 Thumbnail of technician changes storm sample bottles in automatic sampler

November 28, 2005

The headwaters for most of the rivers in the eastern United States are located in the Appalachian Region. AFSRC researchers are studying agricultural practices that maintain a safe and reliable water supply. Derek Hall, Physical Science Technician, changes storm sample bottles in an automatic sampler located at an Appalachian spring. Storm sampling of ground water provides AFSRC scientists information about the pathways of nutrient and pathogen transport in rural Appalachian watersheds.

 Thumbnail of cattle on pasture

November 21, 2005

Health and quality conscious consumers demand a safe and reliable supply of beef.  Pasture-finished beef systems built on the tremendous forage production capabilities of the Region can help reduce production costs while meeting consumer demands for a high quality, nutritious product.

 Thumbnail of crew moving log

November 14, 2005

In addition to providing farmers with a second source of income from tree production, silvopastoral systems offer some advantages to forage production in Appalachian hill lands. Danny Carter, biological science lab technician, moves a log harvested in one of AFSRC’s research silvopastures while Keith Galford, biological science technician, assists.

 Thumbnail of Grandview overlook

November 7, 2005

Management practices designed for small-scale farms in the Appalachian Region must be compatible with the multiple-use demands placed on the landscape including recreation, preservation of natural resources and economically vibrant rural communities.

 Thumbnail of salamander in hand

October 31, 2005

Amphibians are important indicators of ecosystem function.  Ecological research conducted jointly by the AFSRC, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and the USDA Forest Service monitors changes in salamander populations to evaluate how silvopastoral management practices impact the health of pasture ecosystems

 A thumbnail of goat carcasses hanging

October 24, 2005

The meat goat industry is becoming a popular enterprise on Appalachian small farms.  Grazing research at USDA, ARS, AFSRC is helping farmers raise meat goats on high quality pastures without grain supplementation resulting in lean carcasses (pictured here) without any measurable backfat.  Chevon (goat meat) is consumed by many ethnic populations in the U.S., and is becoming an alternative low fat, red meat option for health-conscious American consumers.

 Thumbnail of goats cleaning hillside

October 17, 2005

Goat are browsers meaning they prefer to eat vines, twigs, weeds and other woody plants.  Goats are being used at USDA, ARS, Appalachian
Farmings Systems Reseach Center, Beaver, WV to help clean a hillside of multiflora rose, honeysuckle, weeds, and other woody plants.

 Thumbnail of storm in pasture

October 10, 2005

Sudden, intense thunderstorms are common in the central Appalachian hill lands. AFSRC scientists are studying hillslope hydrology and transport of nutrients and pathogens from grazing lands in order to ensure environmentally friendly pasture management systems.

 Thumbnail of scientist taking blood sample from sheep

October 3, 2005

Good animal health and performance are primary objectives at AFSRC. Dr. James Neel, Research Animal Scientist, is assisted by Matt McDougal, Summer Aide, and Wendy Halvorson, Biological Science Technician, in extracting blood samples from sheep that are grazers in an assortment of pasture management systems. Animal performance and health data are two of many factors AFSRC scientists use to assess the suitability of management systems for central Appalachia.

 Erosion Thumbnail

September 26, 2005

Erosion presents a challenge to land managers in the hill land topography of central Appalachia. Structures, such as this farm lane, concentrate water runoff which can rapidly accelerate into erosion of adjoining fields and pastures. AFSRC is developing management practices to prevent adverse environmental impacts.

 Thumbnail of thistle plant

September 19, 2005

Weed control is essential for production of quality forage. Here, thistle (Cirsium sp.) was able to compete against Sericea lespedeza after a late spring freeze killed the lespedeza (Sericea lespedeza) back to the roots. AFSRC scientists are studying ways to better manage forage species in the difficult conditions of central Appalachia.

 Thumbnail of oats and sheep in pasture-trees

September 12, 2005

A patchwork of forest and open areas with thin soils challenge livestock producers in Appalachia. AFSRC scientists are researching grazing and forage management systems for small ruminants such as these sheep and goats to maximize productivity while maintaining environmental quality.

 Thumbnail of boy trying game with Dr. Ritchey

September 5, 2005

The West Virginia State Fair provides an exciting ten-day venue each August for interactions with the public. West Virginia University provided tent space where AFSRC personnel used demonstrations as a means to educate people about the research activities at AFSCR. Dr. K. Dale Ritchey, Soil Scientist, enthusiastically interacts with a young man trying out a computer quiz created by Dr. Ritchey and his collaborators.

 Thumbnail of turnip plants with harvested row

August 29, 2005

Forage brassicas, like these turnips, are a high-yielding, high-quality means to extend the interval of herbage production in autumn. AFSRC scientists are researching ways to extend grazing seasons in order to reduce the need for feed storage and allow farmers to take advantage of highly variable markets.

 Thumbnail of Senator Byrd cutting ribbon at AFSRC Dedication

August 22, 2005

Our 25th Anniversary

Senator Robert C. Byrd’s commitment to improving the economy and environment of Appalachia resulted in the dedication of the Appalachian Soil and Water Conservation Research Laboratory in Beaver, West Virginia on August 23, 1980.

 Thumbnail of two employees herding sheep

August 15, 2005

Animal scientist Jim Neel (left) and biological technician Danny Carter herd sheep from a silvopasture to a weigh station for collection of animal performance data.

 parasitic nematode worm

August 8, 2005

Gastrointestinal parasites present a management challenge to producers of small ruminants such as goats and sheep. AFSRC, in cooperation with Virginia Tech University, is evaluating effects of chemical and physical characteristics of plants on parasitic nematode worm Haemonchus contortus egg development and larval survival.

 Thumbnail of esearch Microbiologist collects fecal samples from sheep

August 1, 2005

Animal health is important for successful livestock production. Dr. Ewa Kuczynska, Research Microbiologist (Veterinary Parasitology), collects fecal samples from sheep for parasite analyses. Daniel Carter (Biological Science Lab Technician) calms the sheep while Derek Hall (Physical Science Technician) is ready to assist.

 Triticale growing in field thumbnail

July 25, 2005

AFSRC is studying alternative forage plants for livestock production. Triticale (Triticale hexaploide Lart.), a stabilized hybrid between wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale) is sprouting in this picturesque area of southeastern West Virginia.

 Nest in bamboo thumbnail

July 18, 2005

Grazing systems developed at AFSRC often have ancillary benefits. Tammy Robertson, Biological Science Technician, found the bamboo in this study provided a nesting site for some birds.

 Thumbnail  of Sheep in Trees

July 11, 2005

Combinations of geology, topography, and previous land use practices have rendered some landscapes marginally productive. AFSRC is researching ways to use trees and livestock such as sheep and goats to maximize potential productivity of those lands.

 Thumbnail of hemispherical images obtained with a camera and a fisheye lens

July 4, 2005

An intricate mix of trees, pasture, and topography create challenges, as well as opportunities, for pasture productivity in the Appalachians. AFSRC scientists use hemispherical images obtained with a camera and a fisheye lens to study tree canopy interactions with forage production.

 Thumbnail of rain simulator

June 27, 2005

Rainfall simulators provide a means to study rainfall effects on biophysical processes in a controlled environment. Physical Science Technician Derek Hall operates a rainfall simulator to study rainfall-induced redistribution of microorganisms in a forage canopy.

 Colonies of fecal coliform bacteria - Thumbnail

June 20, 2005

Colonies of fecal coliform bacteria filtered from water samples and grown on mFC nutrient agar are indicators of fecal contamination of the water. Scientists at AFSRC are studying ways to minimize fecal pollution of water from grazing livestock.


 Meat Goats in pasture thumbnail

June 13, 2005

The Meat Goat industry is the fastest growing livestock industry in the U.S.  Meat goat production is suited for Appalachian small farm resources and offers producers a high dollar, niche market opportunity.

 Thumbnail of microscopicv mite from soil

June 6, 2005

A single teaspoon of fertile soil can contain more than a billion organisms * more than twice the number of people living in North America today.  These organisms range widely in size, from microscopic bacteria and fungi to the large earthworms and centipedes that can be easily seen with the unaided eye. Scientists at the AFSRC are investigating what role soil microinvertibrates, such as this microscopic mite, play in the decomposition of plant materials.

 Thumbnail of Laura Cooper collects grass samples to test for fecal coliform

May 31, 2005

Laura Cooper, Biological Sciences Technician, collects grass samples to test for fecal coliform bacteria distributions in the grass canopy. Knowledge about potential pathogens in forage canopies help AFSRC scientists develop forage management strategies that protect livestock health and ensure a safe food and water supply.

 Thumbnail of medicinal herbs

May 23, 2005

Medicinal plants being investigated for their potential benefits in improving animal health due to their anti-oxidant (basil), immunosystem booster (echinacea), and anthelmintic (Artemisia sp, Chicory) properties.

 Thumbnail of root system of an Eastern Gamagrass plant

May 16, 2005

This is an excavated root system of an Eastern Gamagrass plant.  The large roots contain air filled pores called aerenchyma.  Aerenchyma move oxygen from the shoot down to the root tips when the plant is flooded.  Flooding is a common occurrence during wet springs in the Appalachian region.  The aerenchyma also allow these strong roots to penetrate saturated clay layers deep in the soil so that the plant has more water available during drought periods. 

 Derek Hall, Physical Science Technician, surveys a massive sediment

May 9, 2005

Derek Hall, Physical Science Technician, surveys a massive sediment bank in Buckeye Cave, West Virginia. Sediment trapped in caves of the Appalachian karst might be important contributors of sediment and associated contaminants in stormflow from karst springs.

 Thumbnail of Image from globoscope, which is a camera and a parabolic mirror, for hemispherical visualization and analysis of terrain.

May 2, 2005

Development and optimization of forage production systems in complex terrain requires consideration of terrain influences on the biophysical environment. The globoscope, which consists of a camera and a parabolic mirror, is one tool for hemispherical visualization and analysis of terrain.

 Snow on apple blossoms thumbnail

April 25, 2005

Occasional late April snow and freezing temperatures adversely impact agricultural production in the central Appalachians. AFSRC researches ways to help farmers cope with highly variable climatic conditions.

 Walter Winant, Soil Scientist, installs a minirhizotron tube for studying plant root growth

April 18, 2005

Walter Winant, Soil Scientist, installs a minirhizotron tube for studying plant root growth. The minirhizotron is a clear plastic tube in which a camera is inserted to take high quality images of the roots in a nondestructive manner.

 Cow and calf

April 11, 2005

Healthy mothers and calves are important for the success of cow-calf operations in Appalachia. AFSRC is researching pasture grazing systems that enhance the economic viability of livestock operations in the Region.

 Blackwater Falls, WV

April 4, 2005

The Blackwater River in West Virginia is one of hundreds of source water streams in Appalachia that contribute the 86 trillion gallons of water that flow annually out of the Region to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A goal of research at AFSRC is to develop farming practices that protect water quality.

 Constitutive aerenchyma in tetraploid Eastern Gamagrass

March 28, 2005

Constitutive aerenchyma in tetraploid Eastern Gamagrass allows these roots to penetrate saturated soils.

 Goats eating from trees

March 21, 2005

Increasing demand for meat goats for niche markets provides production incentives and land management options for Appalachian hill-land farms.  Goats are browsers and select the most nutritious parts such as leaves and growing points from black locust, multiflora rose, and honeysuckle.

 Aerial of the complex topography of Appalachia

March 13, 2005

Complex topography in the Appalachian region creates management challenges to the region’s small farms. The multidisciplinary team of researchers at AFSRC is working to help farmers compete in a global market and maintain high qualities of life, while protecting the region’s natural resources.

 Employee takes record of botanical composition of a pasture

March 7, 2005

Detailed records of botanical composition of pastures are used by scientists and land managers to develop pasture management strategies that help farmers achieve production goals while meeting the nutritional needs of grazing livestock.

 Sheep among trees

February 28, 2005

The use of woodlots in traditional pasture systems as a means to modify the distribution and quality of forages are being researched at AFSRC. The goal is to design environmentally benign grazing management practices, which capitalize on the dynamics of herbage growth in complex terrain.

 testing botanical quiz game for students

February 21, 2005

K. Dale Ritchey (Soil Scientist) tests an interactive computer program developed at AFSRC. The program was designed to teach children and the public about agricultural fundamentals and the research program at AFSRC. Erlend Mathias (Agronomist) takes notes that will be used for modification and further development of the computer program.


February 14, 2005

Rough topography, forest influences, thin and acidic soils, and microclimatic differences challenge livestock farmers in the Central Appalachians. AFSRC continues a proud research program helping farmers economically improve and maintain pastures, while protecting soil and water quality.



February 7, 2005

Dedicated as the Appalachian Soil and Water Conservation Research Laboratory in 1980, the Beaver, West Virginia research facility focused on problems associated with acid and marginally productive soils, forage production, and environmental issues. In the 1990’s the facility was renamed the Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center and boasts a multidisciplinary team of scientists and support personnel working to develop knowledge and technology to increase the profitability of small-farm agricultural enterprises in the Appalachian region while enhancing soil and water quality and environmental integrity.


January 31, 2005

Dr. David Bligh removes a quick-frozen sample of chicory (Cichorum intybus) forage from a container of liquid. The samples were to be analyzed for sesquiterpene lactones and other constituents. Sesquiterpene lactones are bitter tasting and and can adversely affect palatability. This experiment investigated the effects of phosphorus fertilizer on concentrations of sesquiterpene lactones and other constituents in three chicory cultivars.


January 24, 2005

Former AFSRC student intern and current Mountain State University collaborator, Dean Myles, discussed rescue of Appalachian medicinal plants from mining, timbering, and construction sites in southern West Virginia. Myles was speaking at the Third Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Symposium co-sponsored with Mountain State University September 2004 in Beckley, West Virginia.

AFSRC Picture Gallery, 2011

AFSRC Picture Gallery, 2010

AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2009

Picture of the Week, 2008

Picture of the Week, 2007

Picture of the Week , 2006

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Last Modified: 5/5/2011