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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2007
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 Thumbnail of field

December 31, 2007

The patchwork mosaic of agricultural and forest areas and topographic complexity in Appalachia create land management challenges for landowners and resource managers. AFSRC scientists are studying ways to manage diverse Appalachian landscapes in sustainably productive and environmentally friendly ways.

 Thumbnail of River in Appalachia

December 24, 2007

The Appalachian Region is the ‘birthplace’ of many of the rivers flowing to the eastern U.S. coast and the Gulf of Mexico. AFSRC scientists are researching ways to protect this valuable resource. More information about Appalachian water resources can be found on an AFSRC poster.

 Thumbnail of employee preparing samples

December 17, 2007

Rikin Shah, student intern, prepares manure samples, from various sources, for analyses. Rikin is working on a student project in collaboration with AFSRC scientists to study the effects of tannins on nutrients and E. coli bacteria in manure. His research is part of a project for studying the effects of polyphenolic substances on soil organic matter.

 Thumbnail of employees counting microfauna in soil samples

December 10, 2007

AFSRC Biologist, Harry W. Godwin, and Biological Science Technician, Melissa M. Johnson, identify and record micro-fauna from two-inch soil core samples extracted with a modified high gradient Berlese funnel system. A two-inch soil core may contain several-hundred micro-fauna specimens. Current data from these samples suggest micro-invertebrates might be responsive indicators for soil management practices.

 Thumbnail of technician crossing railroad track

December 3, 2007

The rugged terrain of Appalachia makes travel and transportation of commodities a difficult task. Railroads have historically offered a means of traveling within the region as well as transportation in and out of the region. Derek Hall, Physical Science Technician, uses one railroad as a means of access to find a spring draining higher elevation agricultural lands situated on karstic limestone

 Thumbnail of cow in field with sinkhole filter

November 26, 2007

Protection of groundwater quality in limestone areas, where surface water rapidly plunges underground through sinkholes and networks of caves, can be a challenge. AFSRC scientists tested a constructed sinkhole filter designed by USDA-NRCS in West Virginia for effectiveness of removing contaminants from water before it goes underground. The sinkhole filter in the background of this beef pasture was one of the study sites.

 Thumbnail of turkeys and turkey litter

November 19, 2007

As Americans settle in to celebrate Thanksgiving by consuming about 45 million turkeys AFSRC scientists are finding ways to safely and economically use some of the turkey litter produced. About 10 million tons of turkey litter is produced by 270 million turkeys raised in the United States annually. The pile of turkey litter shown here is destined to be spread on beef pasture. AFSRC scientists are also investigating ways to use turkey litter as one of the ingredients in a constructed soil for turf grass production.

 Thumbnail of water samples

November 12, 2007

AFSRC has developed a great deal of knowledge and understanding of agricultural activity impacts on water quality in karst systems. Tracing of underground water with fluorescent dyes is a common tool for studying the hydrology of karst systems. Three of these sample jars show strong visual evidence of a connection between the point of injection of fluorescein dye and the water collection points.

 Thumbnail of oposter showing AFSRC emloyees and family Veterans

November 5, 2007

AFSRC salutes its veterans. AFSRC has a proud history of veteran employees and families. Veterans’ service to their country and commitment to AFSRC research are appreciated.

 Thumbnail of employees weighing cattle

October 29, 2007

Ecologist Jim Fedders and Biological Science Technician Keith Galford use a portable scale and mobile panels to record weight gains of individual steers directly in the field. This is one component of data collection as it relates to the pasture-finished beef cattle experiment being conducted in Monroe County, West Virginia.

 Thumbnail of goats in sunny field

October 22, 2007

These goats are grazing one of the grazing paddocks on an AFSRC research farm. Goats are studied in an AFSRC cooperative research project with Virginia State University to define feeding and grazing strategies to reduce gastrointestinal (GI) parasites, mainly Haemonchus contortus, in meat goats.

 Thumbnail of a Katahdin sheep

October 15, 2007

Develop small ruminant finishing systems, including applications of medicinal plants for improving animal health. This Katahdin sheep is one of the animals used in the research. Results will enhance existing research-based management guidelines related to pastures, feed supplements, parasite control, and meat quality for meat goat producers.

 Thumbnail of students judging soil

October 8, 2007

AFSRC is committed to an ambitious outreach program. These students are participating in a land judging competition held at one of the AFSRC research farms.

 Thumbnail of snail and autumn leaves

October 1, 2007

Autumn is a picturesque time of year in the central Appalachians. Leaf fall from the trees of the region contribute vast amounts of organic matter to the soil. Microbiota and other organisms, such as this snail, speed up the breakdown of the raw organic matter.  AFSRC scientists are studying pasture and silvopastoral systems, which create a mineral and biological matrix absent in conventional tillage agriculture. The research will provide important insights into the linkages between soil processes and plant productivity.

 Thumbnail of plants in a grenhouse

September 24, 2007

Controlled experiments in greenhouses and environmental growth chambers are often used by AFSRC scientists to solve Appalachian forage production questions. This orchardgrass was growing on nutrient film in an environmental growth chamber at AFSRC. AFSRC scientists are able to control temperature humidity, and light in the environmental growth chambers.

 Thumbnail of haybales in field

September 17, 2007

Sustainable livestock systems in Appalachia require the stockpiling of good-quality feed for winter-feeding. AFSRC scientists are studying forage/livestock system management that might leas to longer grazing seasons and reduce the need for stockpiled feed. Research into production and storage of winter feed, such as these round hay bales, are also aimed at helping livestock overwinter with good health and having them in the best possible condition when the spring grazing season begins.

 Thumbnail of Biological Science Technician preparing a laboratory distillation procedure

September 10, 2007

AFSRC is discovering new information about soil components and processes that will improve pasture and amenity grass establishment and function in Appalachian hill-land grazing and turfgrass ecosystems. Tammy Robertson, Biological Science Technician, is preparing a laboratory distillation procedure related to the study of soil organic matter.

 Thumbnail of employees standing with hanging medicianl plants

September 3, 2007

Robert Arnold (Biological Science Lab Technician), N. Wade Snyder (Agricultural Science Research Technician), and Jim Fedders (Ecologist) stand with medicinal plants hung for drying. AFSRC scientists are testing different ways to dry plants and increase concentrations of beneficial compounds. So far, it seems that shade drying significantly increases artemisinin concentration in the leaves of Artemisia.

 Thumbnail of a plastic-strip with bait-filled holes that is inserted into the soil

August 27, 2007

Understanding the effects of land-use on soil fertility, soil quality, and nutrient cycling requires detailed knowledge of the structural composition and functional strategies of the microinvertebrates that decompose organic matter within the soil ecosystem. AFSRC scientists are using a modified bait-lamina test, a plastic-strip with bait-filled holes that is inserted into the soil, for assessments of contamination on soil communities and provides a quantitative estimate of decomposition. This approach to a more exact quantitative measurement of litter consumption in bait-lamina strips should result in an improved and increased understanding of the role microfauna play in soil decomposition.

 Thumbnail of cattle

August 20, 2007

There is a renewed interest in sustainable use of grassland for beef production. To meet the renewed interest, a team of USDA-ARS, West Virginia University and Virginia Tech scientists is developing practices to produce market-ready beef entirely on pasture and forage in the Appalachian Region. The present program is focused on sustainable forage-beef cattle systems, with emphasis on production, economic, and environmental aspects.

 Thumbnail of employees with lysimeter

August 13, 2007

Small bucket lysimeters are weighed several times every week in the field to measure actual water use by forage grasses in proximity to trees.  The lysimeters are installed in the ground with the top even with the soil surface along north and south edges of notches cut into hardwood forest both to the east and to the west of existing pasture.  Biological Technician C.E. Lynch and a summer student employee Marty Walker determine how the amount and daily timing of solar radiation affects water demand by forage grasses.  This information is being used to help design silvopasture systems that make efficient use of both solar radiation and precipitation in Appalachia.

 Thumbnail of employee measuring tree stemflow after a storm

August 6, 2007

Biologist Harry W. Godwin measures stemflow and throughfall from a white oak tree (Quercus alba). Initial data suggests that levels of carbon , tannins, and phenolics, are often 10X that of control rain water. Values of 4.8 pH in control rain water (rainfall from an open area) can increase to 7.2 in stemflow solutions which vary in color from pale yellow to deep orange. The manifold on the tree is designed to separate stemflow into timed samples. This work is being conducted to study the implications of stemflow and throughfall on silvopastures in Appalachia.

 Thumbnail of students in lab

July 30, 2007

The Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center hires students throughout the year to gain experience in a research environment. The students are exposed to agricultural research problems and work closely with scientists and technicians in field and laboratory settings. Shown are Anna Fedders (Junior at Wake Forest University) and Terry Price (Graduate Student at Eastern Kentucky University) conducting P analysis in Appalachian soils as part of a research project led by Dr. Javier Gonzalez (Research Soil Chemist) at the Center

 Thumbnail of cow in field

July 23, 2007

Health conscious consumers include lean beef products in their diets. For some, grass-finished beef is preferred to traditional concentrate-finished US beef because it is perceived as more healthful (lean) and environmentally friendly from a production standpoint (low-input production systems). Dr.James Neel, AFSRC Research Animal Scientist, and other scientists at AFSRC, Virginia Tech University, and West Virginia University are studying the influence of grazing system, forage specie, and diet chemical composition on the quality and quantity of forage produced animal products.

 Thumbnail fo scientists watching forage plots planted

July 16, 2007

Dr. Jim Neel, Research Animal Scientist, and Jim Fedders, Ecologist, watch as a summer annual crop is being planted. This potential forage will be part of the forage-beef cattle systems study which utilizes rotational grazing. This work is being conducted at West Virginia University's Willow Bend Research Farm in Monroe Co., West Virginia.


July 9, 2007

The intricate mix of complex topography, vegetation patterns, highly variable soils, and variable microclimates present Appalachian hilland farmers with challenges to effectively manage their production systems. AFSRC scientists are conducting studies to define the relationship of grazing management and behavior with landscape features with a goal of designing environmentally benign grazing management practices, which capitalize on the dynamics of herbage growth in complex terrain. Clicking on this picture will bring up a panoramic picture of a hilland pasture, surrounded by forest, showing the landscape complexities. The left and right edges of the photo are views to the west. The center of the photo is the east view. North and south views are at 1/4 and 3/4 of the distance across the photo from the left edge.

 Thumbnail of goats grazing in research plot

July 2, 2007

AFSRC scientists are creating management strategies and forage plant communities that expand the spatial and temporal boundaries of forage production for the Appalachian Region. Small ruminants, like these meat goats, and their producers will benefit from this research.

 Thumbnail of forage burned by goat urine

June 25, 2007

AFSRC scientists are studying ways to maximize production potential of improved pastures for finishing meat goats. Goat urine was applied to pasture soils in a greenhouse environment to study nitrogen cycling and the environmental impact of goat grazing. Repeated application of goat urine caused ‘burning’ of the vegetation. Rotational grazing of goats and liming of soils might lessen the impact of goat urine on forages.

 Thumbnail of employee in Artemisia stand

June 18, 2007

Robert Arnold (Biological Science Lab Technician) surveys a stand of Artemisia annua and Ambrosia artemisifolia (ragweed). AFSRC scientists are studying the production and processing of medicinal plants.

 Thumbnail of employees mixing soil

June 11, 2007

AFSRC has a long history of research on the use of coal combustion byproducts to overcome soil limitations of the Appalachian Region. In this vintage photo, former employees of AFSRC were mixing coal combustion byproducts with soil for greenhouse studies.

 Thumbnail of potted purslane

June 4, 2007

The Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, in collaboration with Mountain State University, is researching, developing, and implementing new and improved techniques for the cultivation and production of herbal crops as medicinal botanicals. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is one of the plants being studied.

 Thumbnail of scientists discussing root scanning apparatus

May 28, 2007

Dr. Richard Zobel, plant physiologist, discusses with Dr. Katherine O’Neill, ecologist, the root growth scanning equipment he is using in an AFSRC greenhouse. There is insufficient information about the pattern of grass seedling root system development. Dr. Zobel is documenting the developmental patterns (Ontogeny) of perennial ryegrass seedling root systems.

 Thumbnail of students judging soil on hillside

May 21, 2006

AFSRC takes great pride in its partnering with a wide-ranging contacts with private industry, producers, local citizenry, academic institutions, government cooperators, national organizations and the international science community to enhance the lives of people living on small farms and in rural communities. AFSRC partnered with local FFA clubs, USDA-NRCS, and the West Virginia Southern Conservation District for the regional southeastern land judging contest held on one of the AFSRC research farms.

 Thumbnail of nest on truck frame

May 14, 1007

AFSRC’s mission includes enhancement of environmental quality. Farming in harmony with the Appalachian Region’s wildlife can present challenges and rewards. AFSRC research will be conducted, for a short time, without the use of this heavy equipment until these robins are able to leave their nest.

 Thumbnail of goat in pen

May 7, 2007

Goats are kept at one of the AFSRC research farms for production of parasitic nematodes to be used in anthelmintic bioassays of novel forages and for feeding trials with these forages. This goat has just entered a pen for collection of egg-laden feces.

 Thumbnail of employee inspecting soil testing equipment

April 30, 2006

AFSRC scientists are studying the role of plant-based polyphenolic compounds, such as tannins, on Appalachian agroecosystems. An understanding of how tannins and other plant-derived polyphenolic compounds interact with soil and affect the basic fluxes and transformations of soil organic matter and the availability of important plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus is expected to yield useful information that provides a rational basis for developing management strategies for soil nutrients. Tammy Robertson (Biological Science Technician) is inspecting some of the laboratory equipment used in the analyses of polyphenolic compounds.

 Thumbnail of emplyee spraying field

April 23, 2007

Part of the ongoing research with the Pasture Finished Beef program calls for renovations to existing pastures. Pictured is technician Keith Galford applying glyphosate herbicide to this field to prepare for a new pasture mix establishment. Once established, the new forage will be managed to optimize rotational grazing for nutritional quality as established by the project's research outlines.

 Thumbnail of pear tree, greenhouse and full moon.

April 16, 2007

The moon is full and a pear tree is in bloom on the grounds of AFSRC during the predawn hours of early April. Lights in the greenhouses are on for some of the many plant studies conducted by AFSRC scientists to improve forage production in Appalachia.

 Thumbnail of crickets

April 9, 2007

Understanding the effects of land-use on soil fertility, soil quality, and nutrient cycling requires detailed knowledge of the structural composition and functional strategies of the microinvertebrates, like these crickets, that decompose organic matter within the soil ecosystem. AFSRC scientists are using a modified bait-lamina test, a plastic-strip with bait-filled holes that is inserted into the soil, for assessments of contamination on soil communities and provides a quantitative estimate of decomposition. This approach to a more exact quantitative measurement of litter consumption in bait-lamina strips should result in an improved and increased understanding of the role microfauna play in soil decomposition.

 Thumbnail of three hair sheep

April 2, 2007

Interest in hair sheep production in the U.S. has been increasing with a declining return on wool production, an increased acceptance of smaller carcasses in nontraditional markets, and a shift towards forage-based production. Scientists at AFSRC and Virginia State University are collaborating to evaluate forage intake and utilization by hair sheep breeds, such as these Katahdin sheep.

 Thumbnail of Dr. Boyer discussing turkey litter with local farmer

March 26, 2007

AFSRC scientists are researching the safe and optimal use of organic materials such as poultry litter in pasture systems. Dr. Douglas Boyer, Hydrologist, talks with one local farmer about the use of composted turkey litter in his pasture. 

 Thumbnail of root scan

March 19, 2007

There is insufficient information about the pattern of grass seedling root system development.  As this film clip demonstrates, we are documenting the developmental patterns (Ontogeny) of perennial ryegrass seedling root systems.

 Thumbnail of fluprescing plant samples

March 12, 2007

Plant structure and physiology are affected by specific microsite conditions.  Shown here is a color “fingerprint” of simple extracts from tall fescue and orchardgrass leaves produced either in full sun or in the shade of oak trees.  In daylight, simple extracts are green. The extracts were exposed to ultra-violet light.

 Thumbnail of shady area of pasture

March 5, 2007

Trees are an important component of Appalachian landscapes. AFSRC are studying the effects of tree shading on forage production and quality. One part of that research is the light quality effects on forage production.

 Thumbnail of horses in pulling contest

February 26, 2007

Our agricultural heritage is a source of pride in Appalachia. The draft horse events continue to draw large crowds at the West Virginia State Fair. AFSRC has undertaken a project to document Appalachian agricultural history by including pictures and narratives in our Historical Perspectives of Appalachian Agriculture section of the web site.

 Thumbnail of employees measuring corn

February 19, 2007

AFSRC has a long history of researching ways to alleviate soil limitations to plant production in the Appalachian Region. Two AFSRC employees, in this vintage photo, are measuring corn response to soil amendments to alleviate soil acidity. Today, AFSRC scientists are gathering information about soil components and processes that will improve pasture and amenity grass establishment and function in Appalachian hill-land grazing and turfgrass ecosystems.

 Thumbnail of employee freezing plant samples with liquid nitrogen

February 12, 2007

Robert Arnold (Biological Science Lab Technician) quick freezes field plant samples by immersing them in liquid nitrogen. The samples will be analyzed for secondary metabolites at AFSRC where scientists are studying, in collaboration with Mountain State University, the chemical qualities of medicinal plants.

 Thumbnail of Dr. O'Neill discussing soils program with State Fair attendee

February 5, 2007

AFSRC scientists are cooperating with West Virginia State University to develop technologies and management practices to overcome soil limitations to turf and amenity grass establishment and use. Dr. Katherine O’Neill, Ecologist, talks at the West Virginia State Fair about the research.

 Thumbnail of forage selections for goats

January 29, 2007

AFSRC scientists are exploring the potential of browse herbage to meet the nutritional requirements for meat-type goat production on Appalachian hill lands. Different varieties of forage chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) in this picture are ready to be offered to goats in order to learn which variety is preferred.

 Thumbnail of Artemisia plants under stress, shown in leaves

January 22, 2007

AFSRC scientists are working closely with scientists from Mountain State University to study medicinal herbs in the Appalachian Region. Wormwood (Artemisia annua) is one of the medicinal plants being studied. This picture shows the effects on leaf appearances when nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), or potassium (K) were withheld from plants grown in a common Appalachian soil.

 Thumbnail of Light bars for measuring photosynthetically active radiation in field

January 15, 2007

Light bars for measuring photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) are set up for calibration at one of the AFSRC research sites. After calibration the light bars are used to measure PAR under different canopy settings. More information about light measurement research at AFSRC can be found at

 Thumbnail of employees extracting soil columns

January 8, 2007

Soil columns from an abandoned grass-land were extracted by Charles Lynch (Biological Science Technician) and Edward Lester (Agricultural Science Research Technician) for use in a greenhouse study to evaluate effects of goat urine and limestone on nitrogen transformations.

 Thumbnail of cattle in pasture

January 1, 2007

AFSRC scientists and collaborators are studying pasture-finished beef systems for Appalachia. Pasture-finished beef offers a high-quality, lean beef product that is preferred by many in eastern U. S. markets.

AFSRC Picture Gallery, 2011

AFSRC Picture Gallery, 2010

AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2009

AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2008

AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2006

AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2005

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Last Modified: 5/5/2011
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