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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2008
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 Thumbnail of Greenbrier River

December 29, 2008

AFSRC scientists are studying ways to minimize agricultural impacts on water quality. In this picture muddy water from a large West Virginia limestone spring enters the Greenbrier River. The spring drains a 75 square mile mixed land use watershed that is predominantly grazed by beef cattle. AFSRC research aims to help producers reach production goals while reducing delivery of sediment, nutrients, and pathogens to the Appalachian Region’s water resources.

 Thumbnail of employee and graduate student setting up equipment to measure stream flow

December 1, 2008

AFSRC research is providing producers a fundamental knowledge of the impacts of agricultural practices on soil and water quality to address personal goals and societal concerns. Measurement of water flow is necessary in order to assess agricultural impacts on the Appalachian Region’s water resources. AFSRC physical science technician, Derek Hall, prepares to measure flow on a snowy day at West Virginia’s largest karst spring where it flows underneath a highway before entering the Greenbrier River. John Tudek, West Virginia University geology graduate student, is preparing to take notes.

 Thumbnail of Little Beaver Lake in winter

November 24, 2008

With the arrival of winter and Thanksgiving AFSRC wishes all a safe and bountiful holiday season.

 Thumbnail of perennial ryegrass root

November 17, 2008

This image is of a Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) fine-root (0.15 mm diameter) excavated from field soil.  It shows the endomycorrhizal hyphae of the associated symbiotic root fungus. These fungi live in the cortical cells of the roots and send their hyphae out into the soil to acquire nutrients, while the plant provides it with carbohydrates.  This association between roots and fungi provides the plant with greater tolerance to stress and increased access to essential nutrients like phosphorus. AFSRC scientists have the objective to determine the response of root morphology and function to phosphorus and nitrogen uptake/availability in the root zone, and the biological and geochemical mechanisms for increasing phosphorus availability to plants.

 Thumbnail of cattle wearing GPS collar

November 10, 2008

An understanding of cattle grazing behavior on topographically complex pastures is essential for AFSRC’s commitment to design environmentally friendly forage and grazing systems. This young steer is equipped with a collar holding a data logging geographical positioning system (gps) so AFSRC scientists can gather data about grazing patterns in a karst pasture.

 Thumbnail of employees installing temporary fencing

October 27, 2008

AFSRC research with sheep and goats requires extensive networks of temporary fencing to keep animals confined to research plots. J. Mark Peele (Biological Science Aid) and Matthew Huffman (Agricultural Science Research Technician) finish installing a temporary electric fence that will keep goats confined to a brushy plot.

 Thumbnail of Dean Myles talking to conference attendee

October 21, 2008

AFSRC has co-sponsored, with Mountain State University, several symposia on medicinal and aromatic plants.  Mountain State University coordinator Dean Myles and a symposium attendee discuss 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 in Beckley, West Virginia.

 Thumbnail of tractor harvesting hay

October 13, 2008

Whether keeping a research or production herd of livestock forage must be harvested and stored for feeding during winter. AFSRC personnel are busy harvesting hay from study fields. The stockpiled hay will be used to feed the Center’s research herd over winter.

 Thumbnail of a woodlot

October 6, 2008

AFSRC scientists are investigating the use of woodlots in traditional pasture systems as a means to modify the distribution and quality of forage resources. This autumn scene shows the distribution of forage along a forest edge. AFSRC’s goal is to design environmentally benign grazing management practices, which capitalize on the dynamics of herbage growth in complex terrain.

 Thumbnail of leachate samples with fluorescence data

September 29, 2008

Quality and quantity of inputs to soils are important to the understanding of nutrient cycling and soil organic matter dynamics in Appalachian silvopastures. AFSRC scientists collected leachates from senesced tree leaves of white oak (Quercus alba L.), red maple (Acer rubrum), and yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L) during fall and winter 2007 after rain or snowmelt. Fluorescence of excitation emission matrices spectra show some of the differences of the dissolved organic matter from the collected leaves.

 Thumbnail of students listening to talk in greenhouse

September 22, 2008

AFSRC aggressively pursues outreach opportunities. A small group of local high school students listen to a talk in one of the AFSRC greenhouses about collaborative research between AFSRC and USDA-NRCS.

 Thumbnail of plots

September 15, 2008

The mission of AFSRC is to develop knowledge and technology to increase the profitability of small-farm agricultural enterprises in the Region while enhancing soil and water quality and environmental integrity. Substantial land resources representative of the rough topography of the region are necessary to meet that mission. This view from the cab of a tractor shows a small part of one of AFSRC’s research farms where research is being conducted to develop and improve hill-land grazing systems.
 Thumbnail of cattle

September 9, 2008

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 research program is focused on sustainable forage-beef cattle systems, with emphasis on production, economic, and environmental aspects.

 Thumbnail of scanners at night

September 1, 2008

AFSRC scientists are 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. Nutrient laden fog from aeroponic scanning meso-rhizotron (ASM) units is used to grow plants with their roots in chambers attached to computer controlled scanners. With this system movies can be made of root growth under different environmental conditions such as drought or nutrient stress.  These movies will help to develop management practices to reduce the impact of environmental stress on Appalachian agriculture. This picture of two units with 8 ASMs each and six plants per ASM, was taken at dawn to highlight the fog.

 Thumbnail of grad student and employee measuring flow

August 25, 2008

AFSRC’s mission is to develop knowledge and technology to increase the profitability of small-farm agricultural enterprises in the Region while enhancing soil and water quality and environmental integrity. An understanding of the Appalachian Region’s hydrology is fundamental for protecting water quality. John Tudek, geology graduate student at West Virginia University, and Derek Hall, AFSRC Physical Science Technician, are measuring water flow from one of the largest springs in the Region.

 Thumbnail of employee awarding contest prize

August 18, 2008

AFSRC participates annually in the West Virginia State Fair. The ‘Cow Pie Throwing’ contest has proven to be popular and helps provide the opportunity for AFSRC staff to interact with regional residents. In this photo, Robert McClain (high school science teacher and seasonal AFSRC staff member) awards the prize package to the winner of the Second Annual Cow Pie Throwing event.

 Thumbnail of hail across parking lot

August 11, 2008

AFSRC scientists are researching ways that farmers can manage their farms to best deal with the weather that is highly variable in the region. This summer hail storm at the AFSRC grounds is one example of a weather extreme that challenges local producers and resource managers.

 Thumbnail of graduate student releasing dye

August 4, 2008

The AFSRC program is known worldwide for excellence in fundamental research on karst landscape water quality. Dr. Doug Boyer, Hydrologist, is working with John Tudek, geology graduate student at West Virginia University, to develop an understanding of the hydrology of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Limestone karst. John is injecting a red fluorescent water-tracing dye into a sinking karst stream to determine the travel time to a large spring. Derek Hall, AFSRC Physical Science Technician, is assisting.
 Thumbnail of salamander

July 28, 2008

AFSRC has the research objectives to create management strategies and forage plant communities that expand the spatial and temporal boundaries of forage production; optimize resource utilization in pasture-based livestock production systems; and benefit biological diversity and ecosystem stability for the Appalachian Region. A collaborative study was conducted to determine how red-backed salamanders (woodland salamanders) respond to traditional pasture and silvopasture treatments within the central Appalachian Mountains of southern West Virginia. This picture shows an unusual red-backed salamander, with a forked tail, captured during study.

 Thumbnail of microsocopic mite

July 14, 2008

Research in permanent pasture and silvopastoral systems holds great promise for identifying positive interactions within the soil due to soil-litter biota and root turnover. This mite is one of the invertebrates found by AFSRC scientists in pasture soil. In these perennial systems, management of the soil as an ecosystem offers the potential to improve pasture efficiency by: reducing moisture loss; providing relatively continuous substrate for decomposers; moderating organic matter inputs and nutrient release; and regulating decomposition through faunal interactions.

 Thumbnail of cattle in field

July 7, 2008

The grasslands associated with the limestone soils of southeastern WV are extensively grazed by beef cattle. The grasslands area was known to pioneers as the “Great Savannah.” These AFSRC research cattle are grazing in pastures on the West Virginia University Willowdale Research Farm near Union, WV.

 Thumbnail of employees installing monitor

June 30, 2008

AFSRC scientists are developing and improving forage and grazing systems management with the goal of protecting water quality. Derek Hall (Physical Sciences Technician) and Laura Cooper (Biological Science Technician) prepare to bore a hole to the soil/bedrock interface where a monitoring well will be installed in one of the Center’s silvopasture research plots.

 Thumbnail of caver's feet as he squeezes through passage

June 23, 2008

A high proportion of Appalachian agricultural production occurs on karst lands. The sinkholes and extensive cave systems of karst areas present water managers a challenge to protect water quality for the numerous small-farm families and rural communities of the region.  AFSRC is well known for its expertise in karst hydrology and water quality. In this photo from the 1990’s Dr. Gary Pasquarell (formerly, AFSRC Hydraulic Engineer) leads the way into a small, muddy cave passage that leads to a subterranean water sampling location.

 Thumbnail of research plots

June 16, 2008

The rugged terrain of Appalachia poses challenges to land and resource managers concerned with protecting water quality. AFSRC scientists are designing environmentally benign grazing management practices, which capitalize on the dynamics of herbage growth in complex terrain. Dr. Douglas Boyer, Hydrologist, investigated the mechanics of transport of fecal bacteria by rain splash on slopes.

 Thumbnail of goat lying in shade

June 9, 2008

AFSRC scientists are exploring the potential of browse herbage to meet the nutritional requirements for meat-type goat production. Since goats prefer weeds and woody species compared to typical forage plants, they could be used in place of herbicides on sites where renovation to traditional pasture is the long-term goal. AFSRC scientists found that repeated applications of goat urine can seriously degrade plant growth and result in leaching of poor quality water.
 Thumbnail of a group of goats

June 2, 2008

AFSRC research of plant resources for grazing ruminants is impacting the health of meat goats and sheep in Appalachia. These goats are a small sample of the goats used in AFSRC’s studies.

 Thumbnail of employee with electric fence

May 26, 2008

Plot research with small ruminants requires extensive electrical fencing to control the animals. Kenneth Harless, Biological Science Lab Technician, secures an electric fence after working in one of the research plots.

Thumbnail of goat

May 19,2008

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 is entering a pen for collection of egg-laden feces.

 Thumbnail of employee harvesting Teff

May 12, 2008

Teff (Eragrostis tef ) is a major annual cereal crop in Ethiopia that is gaining acceptance as a forage crop in the United States. American producers can benefit from its rapid germination and growth under warm summer conditions when production from perennial, cool-season forage species is reduced. In this photo, Jim Fedders (ecologist) is harvesting Teff from a controlled environment experiment that is investigating Teff development and forage production in response to temperature.

 Thumbnail of sheep in pen

May 5, 2008

Festivals provide a means for people to gather and celebrate local and regional customs and history. Many small farm owners and operators use festivals as a means of selling and promoting their products. The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, where this sheep is awaiting a judging event, is attended every May by sheep producers as well as spinning, weaving, and fiber enthusiasts. AFSRC’s Dr. Ken Turner, Research Animal Scientist, presented a talk titled “Resources for Finishing Lambs and Goat Kids on Pasture” as part of the Shepherd's Seminar Series at the 2008 festival.

 Thumbnail of cattle on pasture

April 28,2008

Diverse landscapes of the central Appalachian region present challenges to producers who wish to optimize production while meeting ambitious environmental quality goals. AFSRC scientists are studying the relationship of grazing management and behavior with landscape features. A goal is to design environmentally benign grazing management practices, which capitalize on the dynamics of herbage growth in complex terrain.

 Thumbnail of apparatus measuring light

April 21, 2008

Scientists are challenged to design agroforestry plantations to maximize yields of wood fiber and herbage in space and time, knowing that the optimum design configuration will depend on site, species, and management objectives. Dr. David Belesky, Research Agronomist, recently collaborated with Dr. David Burner of the USDA-ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in Arkansas to publish a paper reporting the results of a study titled “Relative Effects of Irrigation and Intense Shade on Productivity of Alley-Cropped Tall Fescue Herbage”. The paper was published in the journal Agroforestry Systems.

 Thumbnail of cow with twin calves

April 14, 2008

A team of AFSRC, 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 and economic aspects. This beef cow is part of the research herd and she beat the odds by giving birth to twins. It is estimated that about 1 in 200 beef cattle births results in twins.

 Thumbnail of employees cooking ramps

April 7, 2008

Wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), regionally known as Ramps, are a springtime delicacy in central Appalachia. Ramps are the theme of many community social gatherings and festivals that celebrate the start of spring. Carol McClung (Physical Science Technician) and Laura Cooper (Biological Science Technician) are cooking a batch of bacon, eggs, and ramps so that AFSRC employees can experience a piece of the local culinary culture.

 Thumbnail of sunny clearing

March 31, 2008

Differences in light levels in the patchwork mosaic of land uses in the Appalachian region challenge land managers to efficaciously manage their landscapes. AFSRC scientists are studying the interactions between landscape parameters, biophysical environment, and forage production. One goal is to produce a farm-scale GIS model that will delineate areas of farm landscapes suitable for meeting production goals based on spatially and temporally varying levels of light.

 Thumbnail of salamanders

March 24, 2008

AFSRC has the research objectives to create management strategies and forage plant communities that expand the spatial and temporal boundaries of forage production; optimize resource utilization in pasture-based livestock production systems; and benefit biological diversity and ecosystem stability for the Appalachian Region. A collaborative study was conducted to determine how red-backed salamanders (woodland salamanders) respond to traditional pasture and silvopasture treatments within the central Appalachian Mountains of southern West Virginia. This picture shows a grouping of red-backed salamanders under one of the study’s cover boards.

 Thumbnail of tractor spreading lime

March 17, 2008

AFSRC has a strong history of research to solve problems associated with acidic soils of the Appalachian Region. This vintage photograph shows AFSRC employees applying varying rates of lime and gypsum on a hillslope with highly acidic soil.

 Thumbnail of employees standing with hanging Artemisia

March 10, 2008

AFSRC scientists are developing small ruminant finishing systems, including applications of medicinal plants for improving animal health. Robert Arnold (Biological Science Lab Technician), N. Wade Snyder (Agricultural Science Research Technician), and James Fedders (Ecologist) pose with recently harvested Artemisia annua hung for shade drying. Different ways to dry the plant material are being studied. It appears that shade drying significantly increases artemisinin concentration in the leaves.

 Thumbnail of woodlot

March 3, 2008

Livestock producers require dependable plant resources and management practices that improve the seasonal distribution and persistence of high quality herbage, sustainability and environmental integrity of the agricultural landscape. AFSRC scientists are studying ways to create pasture communities with nutritive value matching the nutritional requirements of grazing livestock. The use of woodlots in traditional pasture systems as a means to modify the distribution and quality of forage resources is one management system being investigated.

 Thumbnail of sheep on hillside

February 25, 2008

The use of woodlots in traditional pasture systems as a means to modify the timing, distribution, and quality of forages are being researched at AFSRC. The goal is to provide producers with dependable plant resources and management practices that improve the seasonal distribution and persistence of high quality herbage, sustainability and environmental integrity of the agricultural landscape. Some results of the studies were recently published (Neel, J. P. S., C. M. Feldhake, and D. P. Belesky. 2008. Influence of Solar Radiation on the Productivity and Nutritive Value of Herbage of Cool-Season Species of an Understorey Sward in a Mature Conifer Woodland. Grass and Forage Science, 63(1):38-47).

 Thumbnail of Katahdin sheep

February 18, 2008

AFSRC scientists are developing small ruminant finishing systems, including applications of medicinal plants for improving animal health. These Katahdin sheep are some 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 emplayee collecting leachate

February 11, 2008

Studies of inputs to belowground are important to the understanding of soil organic matter dynamics in Appalachian silvopastures. AFSRC Biologist Harry W. Godwin collects leachate from senesced tree leaves of white oak (Quercus alba L.), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L) after a rain event in the autumn of 2007. Data indicates that carbon and phenolics content are much higher than that of control water (rainfall or snowmelt from an open area). The pH values increase from 4.2 in control water to 6.8 in leachate collected from yellow poplar. The leachates vary in color from clear to deep orange.

Thumbnail of employee preparing for root scan 

February 4, 2008

AFSRC scientists are studying root morphology and function in the rhizosphere in order to manage biogeochemical cycles and rhizosphere ecology for sustainable production of Appalachian pasture and amenity grasses. In order to obviate the current technological restrictions on scanning resolutions (max 189 pixels per mm or 4800 dpi) we have developed a computer controlled imaging unit (the XYZScope) that can reach resolutions of 1375 p/mm (35,000 dpi).  The XYZScope gives us sub micron resolution capabilities with automatic image acquisition and storage. David Ruckle (Agricultural Science Research Technician) is arranging objects for scanning with the XYZScope.

 Thumbnail of employees watching sinkhole cap installation

January 28, 2008

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 constructed sinkhole filters designed by USDA-NRCS in West Virginia for effectiveness of removing contaminants from water before it goes underground. AFSRC and NRCS personnel are surveying progress on a sinkhole filter under construction.

 Thumbnail of scientist & GIS computer

January 21, 2008

Protection of water quality in Appalachia is one goal of research at AFSRC. Dr. Doug Boyer, Hydrologist, uses GIS tools to analyze interactions between landscapes land use in the topographically complex region.

 Thumbnail of Triticale plots

January 14, 2008

There is interest in sustainable use of grassland for beef production in Appalachia. To meet that 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. A study was undertaken to assess winter triticale (×Triticosecale spp.) as a potential component of forage systems from the perspective of reducing forage yield risk.

Goat

January 7, 2008

AFSRC scientists are developing small ruminant finishing systems, including applications of medicinal plants for improving animal health with the specific goal of producing an 80-pound meat goat with a carcass having a high lean to fat ratio and meat with consumer benefits. This goat is temporarily housed in a controlled environment for an experiment to study plant materials that have potential value in meeting meat goat health and performance, and carcass and meat quality objectives.

AFSRC Picture Gallery, 2011

AFSRC Picture Gallery, 2010

AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2009

AFSRC Picture of the Week, 2007

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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