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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

2002 Annual Performance Report & 2003, 2004, 2005 Annual Performance Plans
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1 - Introduction
2 - Table of Contents
3 - Goal I
4 - Goal II
5 - Goal III
6 - Goal IV
7 - Goal V
8 - Goal VI
9 - Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2003
10 - Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2004
Goal IV

GOAL IV:  To Foster an Agricultural System That Protects Natural Resources and the Environment.

Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

     FY 2002

     FY 2003

     FY 2004

    Soil, Water & Air Sciences

       90,902

        97,708

       103,134

    Plant Sciences

       31,413

        33,856

         35,842

    Animal Sciences

         2,819

          3,058

           3,396

    Commodity Conversion & Delivery

         3,030

          3,188

           3,377

    Human Nutrition

               0

                0

                 0

    Integration of Agricultural Systems

       24,765

        30,188

         30,192

               Total      

   $152,929

     $167,998

      $175,941

    FTEs

         1,391

          1,450

           1,471

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results:  This goal is the focus of much of ARS’ research on a wide range of environmental issues related to agriculture.  Under Goal IV, 65 Indicators are aligned under 14 Performance Goals.  Because of the unique and dynamic nature of research, several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in all 65 Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  Seventy-five significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the research activities under this goal, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources shown in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

Verification and Validation:  ARS currently conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction to this plan.

OBJECTIVE 4.1:  Balance agriculture and the environment:  “Increase the long-term productivity of the United States agriculture and food industry, while maintaining and enhancing the natural resource base on which rural America and the United States agricultural economy depend.”

STRATEGY 4.1.1:  Natural resource quality:  Develop new concepts, technologies, and management practices that will enhance the quality, productivity, and sustainability of the Nation's soil, water, and air resources. 
 

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.1.1:  Demonstrate concepts and on-farm agricultural technologies and management practices that maintain and enhance the environment and natural resource base.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

report the estimates of atmospheric emissions of nitrous oxide, ammonia, and methane from land applications of chicken litter under conventional and minimum tillage.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from Watkinsville, Georgia, found that from 3 to 24 percent of nitrogen in surface applied poultry litter was lost to the atmosphere during winter and summer application, respectively.  These losses occurred within 7 to 8 days after application and were not influenced by tillage method (no-till or para-plowed), but were significantly reduced by precipitation that occurred just after manure application.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These data demonstrate that significant amounts of ammonia can be lost to the atmosphere immediately after surface application of manure during the summer.  Management practices to reduce these losses need to be developed and tested.

establish a strategic plan basis for formally implementing the Integrated Agricultural Systems National Program in Spring 2003.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A workshop has been scheduled for July 2003.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Based on the findings, a plan will be developed to implement the Integrated Agricultural Systems National Program.

define nutrient requirements of the different life stages of shrimp for indoor and outdoor intensive production systems. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Progress was made on nutrient requirements of shrimp for magnesium, cholesterol, and protein.  Vitamin and minerals were found to be unnecessary for shrimp growth in outdoor systems.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information was made available to feed manufacturers and shrimp producers at workshops.

determine the feasibility of using constructed wetlands for control of nutrients in aquacultural effluents.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute demonstrated that constructed wetlands control nutrients from aquaculture effluents when appropriately sized.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Research was published in journal articles and the technology is being used in large scale, inland water recirculation aquaculture systems.

determine the feasibility of using microbiological management to retain nitrogen in poultry litter and reduce ammonia in the house environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Clay Center, Nebraska, have demonstrated that a significant portion of the urea nitrogen in manure can be retained when urease inhibitors (urease is an enzyme that converts urea in urine into ammonia) are topically applied to the manure.  Urease inhibitors conserve nitrogen in the manure, thus improving its fertilizer value while preventing ammonia release.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Based on these findings, a company is currently marketing a product, CONSERVE-N TM, which reduces ammonia and odor emission from livestock operations.

provide guidelines for arid areas on how to revegetate pipeline right-of-ways with native perennial seeds and  control invasive weeds.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Research completed at Cheyenne, Wyoming, has shown that cultural practices including soil management, mulching, and seeding rates affect the establishment of Wyoming Big Sage and control of invasive weed on right‑of‑ways and other disturbed lands.  The research revealed that: (1) seeding strategies had a much greater impact on revegetation success than topsoil management; (2) using either a stubble mulch or surface mulch improves establishment; (3) by increasing the sagebrush seeding rate to 2 to 3 kilogram per hector, instead of the recommended rate of 0.5 to 1 kilogram, the desired density of sagebrush plants was achieved on the disturbed lands; and (4) newly established plants protected from wildlife grazing had five times the seed stocks as those grazed by wildlife and, after 8 years, unprotected stands had a 59 percent stand survival rate when compared to the protected sites. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The recommendations from this research will help formulate rehabilitation strategies that will reduce cost and improve ecological sustainability.  Land managers now have more flexibility in soil management.  Despite the cost of higher seeding rates and other cultural practices, direct seeding of sagebrush costs less that 10 percent compared to using nursery-grown transplants.  Improved success in establishing native plants through better seedling establishment and protection from wildlife also helps limit the spread of invasive weeds.

conduct field tests of new technology for controlling livestock distribution on open rangeland without fences.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at the Jornada Experimental Range at Las Cruces, New Mexico, successfully conducted field tests of a device installed in livestock collars to control the movement of animals using sound and mild shock stimuli.  The device uses a combination of the Global Positioning Satellite System (GPS), Geographical Information System (GIS) technology and a receiver in the collars to guide the movement of livestock.  A computer program will allow shifting animal grazing patterns.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This new technology, when refined for reliability and economic operation, will provide an option for controlling animal movement on open rangelands without fences.  Eliminating fences will remove an intrusive element from land management, allow greater flexibility in altering grazing patterns, and reduce maintenance costs.

develop technologies of radar-based precipitation estimates to help guide decisions on integrated pest management (IPM) in crops and target precision application of agricultural chemicals to reduce adverse environmental impacts.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) long‑term precipitation forecasts are generally unsuitable for direct field application in making agricultural management and conservation decisions.  ARS scientists at El Reno, Oklahoma, developed a methodology to downscale the forecasts to be applicable at a field location and on a monthly or daily time scale.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This downscaled forecast can be used to predict future infestations of weeds and insects, indicate optimum timing for pesticide spraying with respect to predicted precipitation events, and indicate potential crop yields with or without the application of pesticides.

validate several major compounds of water quality models that will be widely used to improve the management of agricultural lands and enhance the environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Temple, Texas; Ft. Collins, Colorado; and Ames, Iowa, have successfully enhanced and validated ARS decision support system tools (models) for improved water quality management.  These tools have been enhanced to address nutrient leaching from turfgrass operations and interspecies competition between native grasses and invading trees on rangelands and improved pastures and have added several more management operations than were previously available to allow users to better define the best management practices and improve water quality.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The improvements in the ALMANAC (Agricultural Land Management with Numerical Assessment Criteria) alternatives model will enable NRCS technical specialists to calculate the impact of ongoing drought conditions on forage production throughout Texas.  These specialists will be able to predict future impacts of drought on forage predictions based on projected climactic trends and actual observed weather.

demonstrate the utility of incorporating satellite-based remote sensing techniques for assessing soil water contents over large areas in technologies that producers, water resource managers, and agencies can use to effectively manage soil and water resources.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Sub-optimal moisture conditions are perhaps the most significant factor responsible for reducing yields in U.S. agriculture.  The ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, developed a soil moisture stress indicator that was highly correlated to yield.  This technique, combined with improved measurement technology being developed and tested by the laboratory using microwave and radar technology, will ultimately provide daily estimates of soil moisture to assist farmers in better managing their crops.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The algorithms developed by ARS scientists were adopted by NOAA, NASA, and the Japanese space agency and are being used to produce hydrologic products that are utilized by Federal agencies, university scientists, and potentially producers on a daily basis to make water use management decisions.

develop improved practices to control water from irrigation to help mitigate adverse effects on water quality and the environment.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The quality of surface and groundwater is one of the factors considered with respect to analyzing water suitability for irrigation.  ARS scientists at Riverside, California, developed a computer model that enables site-specific assessment of irrigation management practices and water suitability for irrigation of agricultural crops.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The model is being widely distributed and used by the U.N. to evaluate water suitability for irrigated agriculture throughout the world.

develop methods to manage salts and toxic elements in irrigation waters to eliminate detrimental effects on soils and groundwater, and reduce impacts on crop productivity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Riverside, California, have identified several forage species that can be utilized along with suitable management of a saline drainage water reuse system to produce high quality forage for livestock feed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Although total forage growth may be reduced by the saline drainage water system, the quality and production of forage will support an acceptable rate of livestock growth and performance.  

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  High levels of toxic elements and salts in drainage waters used for irrigation have become a major constraint to sustained productivity in many irrigation projects in the Western United States.  ARS scientists from the U.S. Salinity Laboratory at Riverside, California, developed a computer model that can rapidly provide a site-specific assessment of water suitability for irrigation.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The model will be widely distributed and used throughout the world by the United Nations to evaluate water suitability for irrigation, and to develop criteria for reclamation of saline/sodic soils.

improve the understanding of and scientific basis for water conservation, droughts, and increased water use efficiency in agriculture, especially in times of water scarcity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was developed and validated against measured data and successfully transferred to the EPA.  The EPA has incorporated the SWAT model into their BASINS system model as a standard approach for estimating impacts of agriculture on water quantity and quality assessments.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Because of accuracy and ease of use, SWAT has been selected by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as the decision support system to perform a national assessment of the environmental benefits derived from the Conservation Reserve Program and the Environmental Quality Improvement Program that was requested by the Office of Budget and Management.  The result of this new 5‑year effort will be the first comprehensive assessment of the benefits of best management practices in reducing nutrient and sediment loading in the Nation’s streams, lakes, and groundwater systems.

develop rapid methods to identify areas of saline soils and decision tools to remediate them.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at the U.S. Salinity Laboratory, in Riverside, California, have developed a number of practical, field scale salinity assessment techniques based on rapid measurement of soil salinity using four direct contact electrode sensors and noninvasive electromagnetic sensors.  Prediction of salt loading at field scales and larger has been reliably ascertained using a geographic information system (GIS), spatial statistics, noninvasive mobile salinity measurement equipment, and a model for salt movement in soil.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This GIS-linked salt transport modeling approach provides a means of preparing regional scale maps showing predicted areas of salt accumulation in soil and drainage water.  NRCS and others can use the maps as an information tool to ameliorate the future detrimental impact of salinity on soil and water resources.

develop forage systems to effectively recycle manure nutrients, while protecting environmental quality.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from the Waste Management and Forage Research Laboratory at Mississippi State, Mississippi, have developed management practices for the application of poultry litter to bermudagrass that results in maximum forage production while minimizing the risk of surface water pollution by manure nutrients.  They found that the best time for manure application was one month after the start of active bermudagrass growth.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results will contribute to the development of best management practices for application of poultry litter to warm season grasses.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop precision irrigation practices that incorporate improved  water management strategies and remote sensing technologies into site specific management for the production of agronomic and high-value crops.

develop cultural and management practices for agriculture that maximize the return for irrigation water used. 

identify practices and technologies for agriculture to utilize waste and drainage water.

develop drainage and water management practices that enable crops to use shallow groundwater efficiently.  

identify and develop on‑farm and off‑farm management practices that enable producers to meet nutrient water quality standards and maintain economically viable production.

quantify the factors that control movement and availability of pesticides and other synthetic organic chemicals relative to their transport, degradation, and persistence in soil and aquatic environments.

evaluate the role of sediment in the transport, storage, and fate of nutrients and pesticides.

develop decision tools to determine the influence of soil compaction on crop productivity.

provide an improved decision support aid for assessing soil quality, and recommendations for improving soil management to enhance productivity and environmental quality.

recommend pasture weed control strategies that minimize pesticide impact on non-target species.

determine the viability of using a knifing/chiseling technique for incorporating poultry liter into bermudagrass sod to reduce losses of nitrogen and phosphorous, while promoting forage growth.

recommend grazing practices for pasture in karst landscapes (limestone regions) that minimize water quality degradation.

provide options for producing cool and warm season forage mixtures to buffer seasonal extremes in forage production.

recommend ways to enhance and manage plant biodiversity, and improve forage productivity and stability under stressful environments.

use forage plants to filter on‑farm water contaminated with nitrate to test the hypothesis that phytofiltration is an inexpensive way to clean up ground water supplies.

evaluate multi‑species grazing behavior and resultant effects on plant community composition in the management of perennial pepperweed infested meadows.

During FY 2004, ARS will

test the effect of the addition of selected microorganisms on shrimp growth and nutrient cycling in outdoor, intensive culture systems.

provide management recommendations to control bacterial gill disease on volunteer farms and assess their efficacy.

identify hot spots of atrazine and metolachlor for  estimating exposures of sensitive areas to atmospherically derived agrochemical residues.

develop recommendations for the effective use of riparian systems to prevent off-site movement of pesticide residues.

provide management guidelines on the timing and frequency of grazing sagebrush steppe vegetation that has been burned or otherwise disturbed.

develop and evaluate water conservation and management technologies for urban and recreational turf grass users that protect water quantity and quality.

develop and demonstrate the use of improved drainage management practices that reduce flood flows and nutrient losses to ground waters, streams, and rivers.

quantify the factors that control sources and movement of pathogens in terms of their transport and persistence in soil and their potential contamination of aquatic environments.

develop a treatment technology system for swine wastewater that can replace anaerobic lagoons.

develop and evaluate methods for rapid determination of soil carbon that may be used for determination of soil carbon sequestration.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop management practices to optimize nutrient availability at the time of maximum crop need.

demonstrate forage management practices and technologies that utilize and retain nutrients more effectively to reduce the pollution of surface and ground waters.

demonstrate new processes for producing and establishing native plant efficiency for rangeland ecosystem restoration and conservation.

demonstrate practices for managing invasive weeds, toxic plants, and other vegetation that result in sustainable ecosystem structure and function.

develop a pesticide properties database that can be linked to water quality fate and transport models for evaluating the effectiveness of riparian systems buffer strips to enhance the Nation’s water quality.

develop methodology and techniques (Best Management Practices) to minimize the export of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from farm fields in surface and subsurface runoff to improve the Nation’s water quality.

develop precision irrigation technologies and strategies that conserve water and improve water quality while maintaining crop production.

develop management practices that reduce emissions of odor causing volatile organic compounds from animal production operations.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.1.2:  Experimentally demonstrate the appropriateness of watershed-scale technologies and practices that protect the environment and natural resources.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

produce a methodology and model to estimate basin scale riparian corridor evapotranspiration in semi-arid regions to more accurately define the water requirements for maintaining ecologically critical riparian habitats.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center and the EPA National Exposure Research Laboratory in Las Vegas, Nevada, developed and released the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment Tool (AGWA).

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This PC‑based tool is a multi‑purpose software program that allows Federal, State, and local water management agencies to quickly and qualitatively assess the impacts of changes in land cover on regional runoff and soil erosion patterns.  This tool gives local and regional land use planners a quick and efficient methodology to assess potential downstream flooding consequences and the corresponding damage to property and regional infrastructure, if proposed land use changes occur.

evaluate basin scale simulation models for predicting patterns of snow deposition, soil moisture, and runoff.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Completed the development and testing of a spatially distributed energy balance snow melt model (ISNOBAL) and snow cover simulation model that accurately accounts for wind redistribution effects of topography and vegetation canopies.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Wind redistribution and drifting of snow are critical processes in the hydrology of the Western U.S. inter‑mountain region.  With improvements in the ability to predict snow pack depth and distribution as a function of wind direction and velocity, water management forecasters will have the ability to fine tune existing models to take advantage of new advances to improve their estimates of hydrologic and snow melt forecasting issues that are so important in the semi‑arid inter‑mountain Western region of the United States.

identify and verify Total Maximum Daily Loads for sediments and associated agricultural chemicals for selected streams and rivers, and assess the performance of appropriate Best Management Practices for reducing adverse impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Developed a methodology to increase survival of willow cuttings as an effective means of stabilizing stream banks and enhancing natural recovery of riparian habitats. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  ARS scientists in Oxford, Mississippi, found that soaking willow cuttings for 10 days prior to planting dramatically improves the survival, growth rate, and biomass production of the saplings.  These findings may be used to improve the success rate of bio-technical erosion control projects and significantly reduce the costs associated with replanting.

develop a predictive tool to identify areas in a watershed most likely to contaminate surface waters with manure and fertilizer derived phosphorus.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from University Park, Pennsylvania, are working with researchers at other ARS locations, university cooperators, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop and refine the Phosphorus Index for identifying critical areas on a farm or in a watershed that are likely to pollute surface waters with phosphorus.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The NRCS field staff is using the Phosphorus Index in its work with producers to identify sensitive areas and target management alternatives to reduce the environmental risk of phosphorus loss.  Many States are using the Index to guide manure application decisions.

develop modeling procedures to assist in predicting when the Boise Front is susceptible to flood events so advanced warnings can be made.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Boise, Idaho, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Experiment Station, monitored the effects of wildfire and management practices on infiltration and erosion processes on study sites in forests and rangelands in Nevada, Washington, Montana, and Colorado.  Data from these studies has been used to develop hydrologic models on the potential for flooding and managing practices to mitigate the risk.  The models are now being validated.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Managers in areas prone to wildfire must be able to quickly identify areas at greatest risk of flooding, then apply appropriate mitigation measures to prevent wildfire, and if need be, restore the lands after fire.  Models that can aid in this process will reduce damage to life, property, and natural resource values.

improve understanding of the partitioning of precipitation into infiltration, evapotranspiration, soil water, runoff, and groundwater recharge components for water quality and quantity assessments within watersheds.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Tucson, Arizona, developed a rainfall distribution model that can distribute point rainfall data over a spatial area.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new model will enhance the Nation’s understanding of the impacts associated with large‑scale climatic events, such as El Nino, on precipitation amount and distribution that trigger devastating floods and drought across the country.  This model has the potential to improve estimates of hydrologic process, such as flooding, when linked with spatially explicit hydrologic models for a region.

provide improved design and analysis tools to economically maintain water resource management and flood control infrastructure.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Watershed Site Analysis (SITES) computer program was refined, updated, and made available to users throughout the United States on the NRCS’ Water and Climate Center Web site by ARS scientists in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  All of the documentation necessary to run the model for flood control design is available on the Web site.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Since the 1940’s, approximately 11,000 flood control structures have been designed and built using USDA technology.  The SITES model and associated documentation allows NRCS technicians and other interested parties to evaluate the risk of erosion from dam overtopping and the potential for dam failure, which is important for the protection of human life and property.

determine the effects of hydrological factors, riparian and wetland ecosystem management, and stream stabilization practices on stream corridor response.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   ARS scientists at Oxford, Mississippi, have developed a series of decision aids and hydrologic management tools (AGNPS – Agricultural Non‑Point Source, and CONCEPTS – Conservation Channel Evolution and Pollutant Transport System) for evaluating the effectiveness of conservation measures within a watershed to improve riparian and stream corridor response.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The AGNPS model has been transferred to the State Department of Environmental Quality officials in Kansas, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Mississippi, as a means of developing Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) estimates that each State is required to develop for compliance with regulations being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The ARS models provide a uniform way of approaching the EPA rules to reduce confusion of farmers and ranchers about the requirements needed to implement TMDL guidelines across the nation.

During FY 2003, ARS will

quantify the effects of climate, soils, vegetation, watershed characteristics, and pollutant loading on the effectiveness of riparian areas and wetlands for improving water quality.

develop watershed models that determine the environmental and economic impacts of sediments and agricultural contaminants on surface and ground waters.

During FY 2004, ARS will

improve decision support tools that integrate climate and weather forecast information into agricultural production strategies and resource conservation planning at the watershed scale.

develop new instrumentation and apply new technologies for improved comprehensive watershed monitoring and characterization.

develop improved conservation practices to restore and manage stream corridors with emphasis on restoring the ecological integrity of riparian and wetland ecosystems.

transfer technology products such as fact sheets, a Web site, a library of applicable articles, both scientific and extension, related to the National Phosphorus Project.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop and validate basin scale watershed assessment decision support system tools that can be utilized by the Natural Resources Conservation System (NRCS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine the economic and environmental benefits of Best Management Practices in reducing nutrient and sediment loading of the Nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes.

develop watershed scale decision support systems to assist in quantifying the impact of fire on watershed water quality and quantity assessments.

demonstrate how improved drainage management systems can reduce nitrate-nitrogen runoff from agricultural fields, while improving the operation and effectiveness of riparian areas and wetlands.

STRATEGY 4.1.2:  Global change:  Increase understanding of the responses of terrestrial ecosystems to man made and natural changes in the global environment.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.2.1: Determine the extent to which management of croplands and grazinglands affects production and absorption of trace gases that may alter the global environment.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

estimate the current carbon stocks and potential for carbon sequestration in cropland and rangeland soils of the United States.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program that offers payments and assistance to help farmers establish long-term resource conserving covers on eligible cropland to improve soil, water, and wildlife resources.  Analyses of soil samples collected from paired plots across a 13-State region show that CRP lands sequester an average of 910 kilograms of carbon per hectare in the top 20 centimeters of soil each year.  This equates to 5.1 million metric tons of carbon removed from the atmosphere and sequestered into the soil each year in the 5.6 million hectares of land represented in the study. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This ARS analysis demonstrates that CRP lands are making a significant contribution to reducing the rate at which carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere, where it likely contributes to global warming through the greenhouse effect.  Carbon sequestration on CRP lands is in addition to other environmental improvements for which the program is intended.  This information demonstrates a clear role for farmers and ranchers in providing multiple environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration, through voluntary conservation programs.

determine the influence of management practices on trace gas fluxes in pastures and rangelands.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Trace gases, such as methane and certain nitrogen containing gases, arise from soils, ruminant livestock, and animal wastes and increase the heat trapping ability of the atmosphere, possibly leading to global warming.  Although measurement of these gases in the field is difficult, ARS has developed new methods to measure and track them.  One technique, called Backward Lagrangian Stochastic Analysis, can show how trace gases arise from different parts of a farm and move downwind.  Another method, called the Modified Integrated Horizontal Flux technique, can measure gas emissions from animals under field conditions, animal waste processing facilities, and barns.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  New methods for trace gas measurement and tracking developed by ARS can show where these greenhouse gases and odor causing compounds arise on farms and how they move at different times of the day.  The measurements can be made to provide improved estimates of the contributions of livestock to greenhouse gases without disturbing livestock in ways that might otherwise stress their digestive processes and influence their trace gas emissions.  The techniques can be applied to cropping and animal production systems to determine the effectiveness of management methods intended to reduce emissions of gases that contribute to odors and global warming.

develop an improved index for measuring oxidative stability of biodiesel fuels and analytical methods for tracking fuel quality of biodiesel during short- and long-term storage.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A kinetic model was developed to screen the stability of biodiesel from various lipid feedstocks with respect to exposure to air (oxidative degradation) during long-term storage.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These kinetic parameters allow simple and relatively rapid prediction of the oxidative stability, with time, of biodiesel samples under realistic storage conditions.

During FY 2003, ARS will

identify cold flow property improvers that are effective and compatible as additives for biodiesel fuel.

provide data on the extent to which commonly used soil management systems across the United States remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in croplands and rangelands.

determine the impact of overgrazing on carbon cycling in a Southern Plains mixed grass prairie.

release a carbon sequestration model for field office use by the NRCS.

During FY 2004, ARS will

determine the relative influence of warm and cool season grasses on carbon sequestration and stabilization of soil structure.

determine the influence of soil and crop management on methane oxidation and nitrous oxide emissions under irrigated conditions.

develop germplasm and cultivars of grasses, legumes, and cereal grains that produce greater yields of biomass with improved quality for conversion to biofuel.

develop management practices for sustainable production of energy crops with increased carbon sequestration on conservation lands, including CRP lands and buffer strips.

increase the efficiency of biomass harvesting and handling systems, and establish methods for characterizing the quality of biomass as a biofuel feedstock.

During FY 2005, ARS will

compare carbon sequestration in soil under different land uses within a single watershed.

assess long-term (5 years) effects of grazing management on soil nitrogen cycling in shortgrass steppe plant communities.

develop germplasm and cultivars of grasses, legumes, and cereal grains that produce greater yields of biomass with improved quality for conversion to biofuel.

develop management practices for sustainable production of energy crops with increased carbon sequestration on conservation lands, including CRP lands and buffer strips.

increase the efficiency of biomass harvesting and handling systems and establish methods for characterizing the quality of biomass as a biofuel feedstock.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.2.2:  Determine how trace gases, climate changes, weather variability, and other environmental stressors impact agricultural ecosystems and water and nutrient availability for croplands and grazinglands.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will identify the impact of increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide on nutritionally important chemicals in crop plants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Environmental changes, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and global warming, have some well-known effects on crop production.  ARS has demonstrated that the nutritional characteristics of food may also be altered.  Although increased carbon dioxide had little effect, the concentration of vitamin E in soybean seeds increased when plants were exposed to warming during the period when seeds were enlarging.  Much of the increase in vitamin E occurred in association with a temperature increase from 18 to 23 degrees Celsius, which is well within the range of temperatures in the field.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that scavenges unhealthy forms of oxygen that can accumulate from normal biochemical processes in the body’s tissues.  Subtle changes in vitamin E content and other chemicals in commodities grown in a changing environment may have implications for dietary recommendations.  Although ARS and others have done a considerable amount of research to show how crop production may be affected by global change, little attention has been devoted to examining whether the nutritional value of food may be affected.  This research demonstrates that crop quality needs to be investigated as well as crop quantity.

develop models for assessing the effects of global change on the availability of water for agricultural uses.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Land use change, land cover change, and other global change driving forces exert a powerful influence on runoff, water quality, and erosion in watersheds.  ARS scientists and their cooperators in the EPA developed the AGWA for providing quantitative estimates of runoff and erosion relative to land use change.  This tool and its full documentation, which were released at the Second Federal Interagency Hydrological Modeling Conference, can be downloaded at www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/agwa.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Global change is driven by many natural and human induced forces, including changes in how the land is vegetated and used.  Predicting how land use changes may alter the availability and quality of water for agricultural, municipal, industrial, recreational, and other uses is important for making sound land management decisions.  The AGWA Tool is a multipurpose hydrological analysis system that can be used by regional, State, and local agencies for performing watershed and basin-scale studies to examine how certain environmental changes may affect water supplies.

During FY 2003, ARS will

improve techniques and tools for generation of weather data at field scale to support planning and management in conservation programs.

provide regional, process model‑based estimates of the effects of various scenarios of rising carbon dioxide and changing climate on the productivities, water requirements, and carbon sequestration potentials of U.S. cotton.

provide a projection of the impacts of global change on the grasslands of the Great Plains.

provide public land management agencies and private land managers with an assessment of the impact of wildlife on surface hydrology and the erosion in steep rangeland watersheds.

analyze historical conditions of seedbed microclimate, and develop probability estimates for successful seedling establishment on disturbed rangelands in the Intermountain West.

During FY 2004, ARS will

enhance the ability of farmers, ranchers, natural resource agencies, and water policy decision makers to respond to water scarcity and drought through improved water management and conservation at the farm level to regional scales.

quantify  growth and pollen production by important weed species in response to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

develop new technologies that express the risk associated with seasonal forecasts in terms that can be used by the agricultural community.

cultural systems for mitigating and adapting to global climate change.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop regional estimates of the effects of various scenarios of rising carbon dioxide and changing climate on the productivity, water requirements, and carbon sequestration potentials of crops, based on physiological process plant growth models.

use computer models of water flow and plant growth with seasonal climate forecasts to determine the impact of particular forecasts on soil water dynamics and crop productivity.

enhance the ability of farmers, ranchers, and Federal and State natural resource and water management agencies to anticipate drought and respond to ongoing water scarcity and drought through improved water management practices.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.2.3:  Demonstrate techniques that can improve efficiency.

Indicators:

During FY 2003, ARS will

provide information on soil management and tillage techniques that conserve resources and improve productivity.

determine the value of prescribed burning as a tool for management of old world bluestem pastures.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop an assay that can be used to determine the bio-availability of phosphorus and other minerals in animal feed ingredients.  

develop practical recommendations for using multispectral crop coefficients for scheduling irrigation.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop an assay that can be used to determine the bio-availability of phosphorus and other minerals in animal feed ingredients.  

develop practical recommendations for using multispectral crop coefficients for scheduling irrigation.

STRATEGY 4.1.3:  Cropland and grazingland sustainability:  Develop cropland and grazingland management strategies that will improve quality, quantity, and sustainability of food and fiber products needed for U.S. competitiveness.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.3.1:  Demonstrate cropland and grazingland management strategies that improve productivity and efficiency of croplands and grazinglands. 

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop conservation management systems to increase productivity and profitability of eroded soils in the Southeastern United States.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Auburn, Alabama, have developed conservation management systems that increase soil water storage and availability of water to crops during periods of short-term drought common to the region.  These conservation systems are site specific, use cover crops with high residue crop rotations, and integrate residue and soil management factors to reduce input costs and maximizing crop yields.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Conservation tillage is now a common farming system in this region with farmers using conservation strategies, including non-inversion fall tillage and cover crops.  Conservation management systems are being used on approximately 75 percent of the cotton grown in the largest cotton producing counties in the region.

complete grazing studies using chicory and plantain in grazing systems and make preliminary recommendations to producers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at University Park, Pennsylvania, applied ecological and physiological principles to develop pasture management systems that lower production costs and reduce the risks of drought.  They found that planting mixtures of up to five forage species together improved insect resistance and increased productivity under drought stress.  For example, white clover grown in mixtures of grasses and forbs instead of in a monoculture, produced more dry matter, had better water relationships, and was less susceptible to potato leafhopper attacks.  English plantain, a forb from New Zealand, was found to be very productive during drought, but was highly susceptible to freezing stress and does not survive Northeastern winters.  Several new varieties of chicory were evaluated, but they did not perform as well as the original variety, "Puna."

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Increasing the number of plant species in pastures increased carbon sequestration and resulted in greater root mass with roots going to lower depths in the soil.  Both of these characteristics result in improved pasture drought tolerance.

complete data collection on a forage-based finishing system for beef cattle and evaluate sustainability of the production system in Appalachia.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A study by scientists at Beaver, West Virginia, of pasture fed beef production found that most of the animals were directly marketed by producers.  There was also great variation in the herd size and forage systems used by producers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The study did find that there was a market for forage finished beef in the major cities along the Atlantic Coast and that premium prices are being paid.  However, because of the lack of any central marketing or common production systems, it was not possible to evaluate the economic sustainability of the industry as it is now structured.  Long‑term research is needed to assess the risks and potential profitability of alternative production systems.  There is also a need for research in how the food quality of the beef affects market prices and demand.

recommend dietary supplementation for goats browsing invasive species on underutilized hill land sites in the East.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists at Beaver, West Virginia, collected tissue from seven shrub species over three years.  Chemical analyses indicate that these woody plants provide goats with high levels of energy and protein, but that supplemental phosphorus is needed in some cases.  Data is now being used to prepare detailed supplementation recommendations for each of the shrubs during each season of the year.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Successful management of meat goats grazing on brush infested hillsides provides farmers with an additional source of income, while controlling undesirable woody plants that have invaded pastures.  The dietary recommendations from this study will aid farmers in providing critical nutrient supplementation at minimal cost. 

compare rhizomatous versus non-rhizomatous trefoil grown with tall fescue to evaluate grazing and disease resistance data and present producers with management recommendations.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A multi‑location study on the expression of rhizomes in birdsfoot trefoil and the effects of the presence of rhizomes on persistence was completed by ARS scientists at Columbia, Missouri, in cooperation with other ARS scientists at Booneville, Arkansas; Corvallis, Oregon; Logan, Utah; and Madison, Wisconsin, plus university scientists at Iowa State and Cornell.  While both lines being evaluated produced rhizomes at all locations, there were noticeable variations in the extent of rhizome expression and in plant persistence, indicating the significant role of environment in birdsfoot trefoil performance.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The complex interactions between environment and genetic material greatly increase the difficulty of developing widely adapted rhizomatous varieties of birdsfoot trefoil.  Because of the complexity of the research and limited resources, this line of research has been terminated.

start trials on a new vaccine to reduce or eliminate abortions and premature birth in cattle caused by broom snakeweed.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cattle fed snakeweed under research conditions typically died instead of developing reproduction problems.  Because of an inadequate understanding of the interactions between livestock grazing behavior and the toxic nature of snakeweed, a new vaccine could not be developed.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Research is continuing to gain a better understanding of the patterns of snakeweed consumption by grazing cattle that result in abortions and premature birth and the plant’s productions of toxins under these conditions.  As this knowledge is gained, recommendations will be made on changing grazing management and decisions made on the feasibility of developing a new vaccine.

scale up the rotational sequence experiment begun in 2001 to two additional field sites for spatial replication, and the necessary temporal replication and testing of pasture systems in Appalachia.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Over the past two years, scientists from Beaver, West Virginia; University of West Virginia; and Virginia Tech established replicated pastures at three locations to use in developing production guidelines for producing grass fed beef in Appalachia.  The three locations are at Steeles Tavern, Virginia; Morgan, West Virginia; and Willow Bend, West Virginia.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This greatly enhanced research capability will allow the scientific assessment of alternative forage systems for producing beef on grass under a wide range of environmental and economic conditions.

During FY 2003, ARS will

make available recommendations on the use of cover crops for increasing the sustainability of cropping systems.

develop crop rotations that will increase water use efficiency in the Great Plains.

show that switch grass and gama grass, both native grasses, when grazed in the Mid-Atlantic region, will result in nearly double the average daily gain of steers compared with coastal or Tifton bermudagrass.

determine optimal combination of site preparation method and seeded species mixture in management of Russian knapweed infested hay meadows.

complete multi-year evaluations on the use of annual lespedeza as a farm raised protein supplement double cropped with grazed winter wheat for more efficient production of beef stocker calves grazing warm season perennial grasses in an integrated crop/livestock production system.

During FY 2004, ARS will

evaluate livestock performance in the Northern Great Plains on over seeded rangelands using alternative grazing management strategies.

identify optimal protein levels and supplementation strategies for alfalfa and corn silage-based dairy rations for maintaining high milk production, while reducing nitrogen excretion.

identify and evaluate improved grasses and legumes that can be integrated into livestock grazing systems to increase profitability and environmental sustainability in the Southern Great Plains.

demonstrate and publish guidance on the use of sheep to control knapweed.

evaluate and develop management strategies for seed production and establishment of native plants.

develop remote sensing techniques that will identify the nitrogen status of crops and allow nitrogen fertilizer to be added at rates that will optimize crop growth and yield.

develop cost-effective practices to ameliorate root restrictive layers in soils to improve root growth and soil water utilization.

determine the most promising combination of tillage and cover crops for promoting biologically-based control of nutrition and pest control in crops produced in the subtropical United States.

determine crop sequence effects on productivity, water use, weed seedbank, and soil quality.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop tools to identify and remediate soils with high soil strength.

demonstrate forage production and grazing management systems that increase economic sustainability.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.1.3.2:  Provide information to public agencies and private organizations and directly to farmers and ranchers that will lead to adoption of improved cropland and grazingland management strategies.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will provide a Phosphorous-Index decision tool for pastures that will allow more effective use of manure nutrients while protecting environmental quality.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from the Poultry Production and Products Safety Research Laboratory at Fayetteville, Arkansas, have developed a Phosphorus Index for pasture conditions.  The Index is a relative scale for soils’ ability to hold phosphorus.  It is useful for farmers, allowing them to use poultry litter on sites that the Index shows would not loose phosphorus to surface water.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) uses the Phosphorus Index in Arkansas to write nutrient management plans for farms and watersheds.  The use of this screening tool has reduced time spent developing nutrient management plans and results in lower nutrient management planning costs for farmers and producers.

During FY 2003, ARS will

deliver refined predictions of pesticide loadings to the Delmarva Peninsula.

evaluate multi-year information regarding the effect of beef cattle stocking rate on grazing behavior and nutrient distribution in the Gulf Coast region.

provide techniques to ranchers and natural resources managers that use both ground-based methods and remotely sensed imagery to rapidly assess and monitor rangeland conditions of pastures and watersheds in the Southwestern United States.

provide information on effects of spring drought and associated grazing on the sustainability of rangeland ecosystems.

assist the Burns Paiute Tribe in development of vegetation monitoring technologies for use in management of tribal landholdings.

During FY 2004, ARS will

provide information on germination ecology of selected invasive weeds and revegetation species to improve management of competition during the restoration of degraded rangelands.

provide improved monitoring tools usable at multiple scales to provide timely information needed for managing ecosystem restoration and conservation.

evaluate the effects of plant species diversity in pastures on dry matter intake, production, and grazing behavior of cattle.

develop a decision support system that will allow action agencies, advisors and producers to assess the sustainability of land management practices.

develop a database on soil carbon and other soil properties from long-term experiments in the wheat growing region of the Pacific Northwest, in the Great Plains  and in the Mid-Atlantic that can be used for determining effects of soil management on carbon sequestration and soil quality.

produce a video on management considerations of early season crops for the Northern Great Plains.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop a decision support aid for farmers and land managers to determine the best strategies for ameliorating eroded or crusted soils.

develop management strategies for reclamation of high boron soils.

provide information and technology for improving rangeland monitoring.

provide information and technology for matching livestock and forage varieties to improve economic and environmental sustainability.

OBJECTIVE 4.2:  Risk management:  “Improve risk management in the United States agriculture industry.”

STRATEGY 4.2.1:  Economic and environmental risks:  Reduce economic and environmental risks through improved management of agricultural production systems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.2.1.1:  Risk-reduction strategies and methods transferred to the Nation's agricultural industry.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

enhance grower management tools by releasing two decision aids -- one will address whole farm/ranch management in the Central Great Plains and the other will be useful in the management of a wheat crop.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A whole-farm decision support system, Great Plains Framework for Agricultural Resource Management (GPFARM) was developed by ARS scientists from the Great Plains Systems Research Laboratory at Fort Collins, Colorado, in collaboration with Colorado State University, other ARS units, and local farmers and ranchers.  GPFARM also can serve as a decision support system for use in the management of wheat production.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Producers in the Central Great Plains now have an effective and comprehensive tool to quickly select management options that are economically and environmentally sustainable for their local farm/ranch conditions.  Public Version 2.0 of GPFARM was released in April 2002, and currently over 75 copies of this model are in use by producers in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming.

analyze the current utility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration=s (NOAA) climate forecasts for risk reduction applications in agricultural production and natural resources management.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at El Reno, Oklahoma, have developed a methodology of taking NOAA’s 3‑month regional weather forecast and downscaling the forecast to a monthly or daily time step and reducing the scale to an individual farmer’s field.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  With this new information and associated tools being developed by the ARS scientists, farmers and ranchers can establish the risk associated with the uncertainty of weather forecasts.  This information will assist farmers and ranchers in making timely decisions regarding management practices that should result in increased farm/ranch profitability. 

analyze historical precipitation in the Great Plains region, including inter-annual, decadal, and spatial variations to support the downscaling of climate forecasts and risk assessments associated with extreme climatic events.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   ARS scientists at El Reno, Oklahoma, have completed the analysis on the reliability and usefulness of using NOAA’s long‑term weather forecast for drought prediction and management throughout the United States for the years 1997 through 2000.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Reliability and usefulness were found to vary by region of the country.  The most reliable forecasts were for California, the desert southwest, the Southern Great Plains, the Gulf Coast region, and Florida.  Producers in these regions are most likely to benefit from using this information when determining what crops to plant and when to plant, if supplemental irrigation will be needed, and, given the projected precipitation, what the potential yield will be, thus reducing the uncertainty in potential farm gate cash receipts.

begin to improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds, arthropods, and disease pests.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An ARS scientist has been located in Ithaca, New York, to address these risk analysis questions, and positions are being sought for other locations to conduct this type of research.

IMPACT/OUTCOME: To provide the knowledge needed to conduct a post-release risk assessment, this research will determine the physiological and ecological parameters that contribute to host specificity, reduced host competitiveness and degree of impact on native Lythraceae species.  Improved predictive capability of host-specificity testing and ecological risk assessment of biological control agents will aid future weed biological control programs and increase public support for this technology. 

develop methods to assess the risk of water scarcity on irrigated crop lands.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at Phoenix, Arizona, were able to improve the current methods for determining crop coefficients needed to estimate daily crop evapotranspiration (ET) for scheduling irrigation under conditions of water scarcity or reduced water availability for pumping.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The modified procedures for determining crop coefficients and ET have been included in the Foreign Agricultural Organization’s (FAO’s) guidelines for determining irrigation water requirements (FAO‑56).

During FY 2003, ARS will

expand assessments of land use and management changes at the watershed scale-based on measurements of water quantity and water quality.

develop methods to assess the risk of water scarcity on irrigated and drylands.

begin to improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop planning and management tools for agricultural production, economic evaluation, and resource conservation that reflect risk and uncertainty associated with climate and weather variability.

develop crop-based, site-specific management strategies for application of nitrogen (N), which maximizes fertilizer N recovery and minimizes environmental impact, using remotely sensed data.

improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds by increasing research on biological information and new species discovery.

During FY 2005, ARS will

enhance the ability of farmers, ranchers, and Federal and State natural resource and water management agencies to anticipate a drought and respond to ongoing water scarcity and drought through improved understanding of climate forecasting.

develop tools to predict regional atmospheric transport and deposition of pesticides in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in Rapid Response Teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species. 

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches as the key strategies in biologically based weed management in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage, and, together with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success. 

improve the risk analysis procedures for approval of introductions of new biological control agents for key invasive weeds by increasing research on biological information and new species discovery.

STRATEGY 4.2.2:  Weather and environmental risks:  Develop concepts and technologies for predicting and reducing the socio-economic costs and resource damages associated with extreme weather variability.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.2.2.1:  Improve strategies and technologies that reduce the effects of extreme weather variability.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will improve the ability to predict cold season flooding in the Pacific Northwest by combining remote sensing with basin-scale hydrologic modeling to provide improved information on landscape conditions prior to flooding.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Determined that the standard equations to predict precipitation in the Pacific Northwest significantly underestimates precipitation.  New algorithms were developed by ARS scientists at the Northwest Watershed Research Center in Boise, Idaho, and provided to the National Weather Service.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The National Weather Service adopted the new algorithms developed by ARS and are using them to provide improved radar derived precipitation estimates.  This will improve the forecasting of flooding when rainfall occurs on snow in the mountainous regions of the West.

During FY 2003, ARS will develop relationships that link climate and weather characteristics at field and watershed scales, as well as seasonal to daily scales.

During FY 2004, ARS will enhance methodologies to estimate soil water availability and agricultural productivity based on regional climate predictions, long-term water resource budgets, and current weather conditions.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop new risk assessment technology that can be used by agricultural producers to determine production and economic risks associated with seasonal climate forecasts.

develop enhanced methodologies to estimate soil water availability that can be utilized by agricultural producers to determine potential crop yield.

OBJECTIVE 4.3:  Safe production and processing:  “Improve the safe production and processing of, and adding of value to, United States food and fiber resources using methods that maintain the balance between yield and environmental soundness.”

STRATEGY 4.3.1:  Environmentally-safe pest management:  Develop environmentally-safe methods to prevent or control pests (insects, weeds, pathogens, etc.) in plants, animals, and ecosystems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.1.1:  Deliver integrated pest management strategies that are cost-effective and protect natural resources, human health, and the environment.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

publish data on the effectiveness of using sheep to control leafy spurge.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Work is ongoing, and draft reports are being prepared.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Preliminary information indicates that, under certain circumstances, sheep can be effective biological control agents for leafy spurge.

continue to develop and begin to evaluate and transfer biologically-based fire ant control technologies to State and private organizations.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A new stage of Thelohania solenopsis, a bacterial pathogen of fire ants, was discovered that could be crucial to enhancing propagation in colonies.  Several new species of parasitic phorid flies were introduced from South America and are being evaluated in a laboratory containment facility with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  The areawide program now is executed in seven States.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  More than 320 million acres in 12 southern States are infested with invasive red or black fire ants, which cause billions of dollars of losses to the livestock, medical, and construction industries.  In many places, reliance solely on insecticide is not practicable.  Pathogens and parasitic flies are self-sustaining and disseminating, which will reduce dependence on pesticides.

continue to evaluate and begin transfer of Formosan termite control technology to State and industry.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The French Quarter demonstration project in New Orleans, Louisiana, was expanded by 15 city blocks and includes areas along the Mississippi River.  The program was reorganized to include a national coordinator to provide better liaison with stakeholders.  The number of trapped termite alates (winged forms) has decreased in the core area by 65 percent.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Formosan subterranean termites were introduced from Asia to New Orleans 60 years ago and now cause extensive damage to wooden structures in all the Gulf States.  Because of their habits they are much more difficult to control than native termites.  The historic French Quarter is especially at risk.   Since the beginning of the Congressionally funded demonstration project, however, the progression of damage has been substantially reduced.  The integrated control strategy will soon be tested in Mississippi and other infested areas.

continue field evaluation and improvements of 4-Poster technology for the control of Lyme disease in the Northwest and cattle fever in the Southwest.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   The use of the 4-Poster bait stations for reducing tick infestations of wild deer, the main hosts of the Lyme disease vector, Ixodes scapularis, completed the third year of a five-year Congressionally funded trial in the Northeast, resulting in tick reductions of 65 to 90 percent. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Cattle fever was eliminated from the United States by the eradication of its vector, the black legged tick, using control methods developed by ARS.  However, cattle fever still occurs in Mexico and wild deer are a major agent for their reinvasion of the United States.  The 4-Poster is being successfully tested to control the black legged tick in Texas and the ticks that transmit Lyme disease in New England.

continue to develop and transfer sterile fly production technology to APHIS-International Service for use in the screwworm eradication program.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists at the Midwestern Livestock Insect Research Unit, Lincoln, Nebraska, have for the first time proved the concept that screwworm flies can be genetically altered.  They inserted multiple copies of a fluorescent gene into the fly embryo and activated the genes by exposing the flies to an antibiotic.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Screwworm has now been eradicated from North and Central America using sterile insect technology developed by ARS nearly 50 years ago.  Screwworm, however, still infests the Caribbean and South America, posing a constant threat to U.S. livestock and people.  The current method of producing sterile flies is the use of ionizing irradiation.  A genetically sterile line of flies would be less costly and safer.

deliver areawide integrated pest management (IPM) technologies for control of pest insects and weeds to extension and grower partners and customers.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Two areawide integrated pest management (IPM) projects were completed in 2002 with delivery and adoption of the technologies to extension and agribusiness customers.  Corn rootworms are the targets of almost half of the insecticides used in row crops.  ARS’ Areawide Pest Management (AWPM) program in South Dakota, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa, as well as in Texas, using an adult corn rootworm attract-and-kill technology, has yielded corn rootworm reductions of 70 percent to 90 percent in most of the test sites.  A number of corn growers have expressed interest in undertaking their own programs using this new technology. 

Leafy spurge, an exotic weed that causes millions of dollars in losses each year, infests over one million acres of rangeland.  The pest is being virtually eliminated by the use of insect natural enemies, grazing practices, and other technologies.  ARS at Sidney, Montana, led an effort to design an areawide integrated pest management program to deal with this noxious weed.  Field days, tours of control sites, and demonstrations of research technology have increased since the initiation of the program in 1997.  Program managers and cooperators (TEAM Leafy Spurge) have been devising and demonstrating practical leafy spurge management strategies that can be applied to common habitats and rangeland being utilized in the Upper Great Plains.  TEAM Leafy Spurge coordinated and provided timely collection and delivery of a total of 1.9 million Aphthona species beetles to TEAM Leafy Spurge researchers and weed managers in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.  The leafy spurge areawide project was initiated as a partnership between the ARS in Sidney, USDA-APHIS, North and South Dakota State Universities, and Montana State University, in cooperation with ranchers, the U.S. Forest Service, Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and the State Departments of Agriculture.  At a Spurgefest Field Day held in Medora, North Dakota, scientists involved with the program gave away an additional 10 million Aphthona flea beetles to ranchers and land managers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A 90 percent reduction in the amount of prophylactic soil insecticide applied to U.S. corn grown in the Midwest United States for corn rootworm is estimated to result in $300 million in estimated savings for corn growers using an adult attracticide technology being adopted by the growers.  ARS led this program out of Brookings, South Dakota. 

The leafy spurge AWPM program has been instrumental in reducing the $144 million economic impact of leafy spurge in Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota, with herbicide chemical reductions estimated at 50 percent to 95 percent.  The project was given the prestigious Technology Transfer Award from USDA-ARS in 2002.

continue to provide critical identifications of unknown pest species, provide crucially needed taxonomic revisions of critical groups of insects, identify new natural control agents, and produce updated keys to agriculturally and environmentally important insect, mite, and pathogen groups.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Two USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) staff members are housed in the ARS Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory in Beltsville,Maryland, where there are over 1,000,000 specimens are held in the laboratory’s collection.  This team identifies plant pathogens that threaten agricultural crops and valuable native plants.  Similarly, ARS researchers at the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, in addition to conducting basic systematics research, this year identified for APHIS 5,000 arthropod species labeled “urgent,” and identified over 12,000 species for other customers and stakeholders.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This collaboration results in rapid identifications of potential invasive species at ports of entry, allowing efficient clearing of incoming cargo ships, and protection of American agriculture and natural areas, as well as making improvements in taxonomy of important species.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in Rapid Response Teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   APHIS requested assistance from ARS to control an outbreak of screwworm that was discovered in the previously eradicated area of Chiapas, Mexico, in October 2001.  The ARS response was coordinated with all members of the Screwworm Research Unit, Midwest Livestock Insects Laboratory (MLIL), APHIS and the Mexican-American Commission for Eradication of Screwworm.  The ARS response included assistance with field monitoring of the sterile flies released in Mexico and collection of live samples that were used to start a colony and for genetic analysis at MLIL.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The activities of ARS contributed to the rapid control of the outbreak with the releases of sterile flies and provided analytical techniques and release strategies that will be useful in future outbreaks.

suppress invasive weed pests by using classical biological control approaches in permanent and managed ecosystems.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   Hemp sesbania, a problematic weed in much of the Southern United States, which was introduced from South America, has relatively few natural insect predators in the United States.  Research was conducted with collaborators in South America to determine the biological control potential of insects that were collected on these plant species in their area of origin.  Four weevil species were found to reduce plant populations and vigor of hemp sesbania and other weedy Sesbania spp.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results indicate that the naturalized invasive weed hemp sesbania can be controlled with introduced phytophagous insects.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The noxious weed tropical soda apple, introduced into the United States from South America, has few native insect predators in the United States.  Research continued with collaborators in South America to determine the biological control potential of insects that were collected on these plant species in their area of origin.  It was found that two Gratiana spp. and an Anthonomus sp. were effective in reducing tropical soda apple populations.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research demonstrates that the introduction of natural insect pests of tropical soda apple can provide added biological pressure on this invasive species by reducing its competitiveness in natural and agricultural areas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Yellow starthistle is a serious pest of Western rangelands, infesting over 8,000 hectares in California alone.  An Environmental Assessment required for the release of the biological control agent Puccinia jaceae was completed.  Regulators in APHIS have issued a Finding of “No Significant Impact” of this biological control agent.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The ruling marks the final step in the approval for the release of Puccinia jaceae in California.  The availability of this biological control agent will provide a useful addition to the options available to land managers for controlling Yellow starthistle.

continue delivering the areawide pest management program for leafy spurge.  Evaluation of the integration of biological, chemical and cultural techniques will continue with local, State, and Federal customers that are part of TEAM Leafy Spurge.  New biological control agents for specific niches not utilized by the Aphthona spp. will be sought in Europe using staff and facilities at the ARS European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier, France.  Promising agents will be introduced after Federal and State approval.  Technology transfer will be provided through field days, bulletins, databases, and other means.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Leafy spurge, Euphorbia esula, is an invasive Eurasian weed that causes millions of dollars in losses each year, and infests over 1,000,000 acres of rangeland.  The pest can be virtually eliminated by use of insect natural enemies, grazing practices, and other technologies.  ARS researchers at Sidney, Montana, have led the areawide integrated pest management program for this weed.  Field days, tours of control sites, and demonstrations of research technology have increased since the initiation of the program in 1997.  TEAM Leafy Spurge coordinated collection and delivery of a 1.9 million Aphthona species beetles to TEAM Leafy Spurge researchers, landowners and weed managers in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.  Remote sensing technology for detecting the weed before and after attack by Aphthona spp. is underway.  The project is a partnership between ARS, APHIS, North and South Dakota State Universities, and Montana State University, in cooperation with ranchers, USDA-Forest Service, the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the state Departments of Agriculture.  Two Spurgefest Field Days were held in Medora, North Dakota, where an additional 10 million Aphthona flea beetles were provided to ranchers and land managers.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Land managers in the Western United States are using biologically based integrated leafy spurge management.  This is resulting in the return of grazing lands to more productive pasture, significant reductions in herbicide use, and in reduced costs to manage leafy spurge.

continue implementing the change in how biological weed control programs are planned and conducted within ARS.  Scientists will prepare a long-term management plan for each target weed.  This plan will concentrate on measuring the long-term impact of released biological control agents on the target weed and on closely related non-target plants, incorporate cultural control/revegetation as an integral part of the biologically-based weed management program, and emphasize developing partnerships.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  This change has now been implemented, and the new directions in research are being pursued.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  A greater focus on long-term, biologically based integrated weed management systems will result in more rapid transfer of the technology to end users, a greater appreciation for the risk analysis of biological control, and a better understanding of the ecological relationships between weeds and their natural enemies.

continue to collect and ship many new exotic biological control agents to ARS quarantine laboratories.  The geographic base for collections of natural enemies will be overseas’ laboratories in Montpellier, France; Thessalonika, Greece; Beijing, China; Hurlingham, Argentina; and Brisbane, Australia.  Agents will be tested in overseas laboratories or quarantine facilities for their host specificity and appropriateness for release in the United States for control of introduced or native pests of insects and weeds.  If host specific, they will be released and evaluated.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Biological control agents for cape ivy, saltcedar, melaleuca, Yellow starthistle, leafy spurge, whitetop, Canada thistle, Russian thistle, and many other invasive weeds have been found in their native habitats, and are being tested for host specificity.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  If found to be safe for release, these biological control agents will be released and evaluated over several years for their impact on target and non-target species, risk analysis, and how they fit into integrated weed management programs.

use augmentative biological control approaches to suppress native or invasive insect and weed pests, such as tarnished plant bug, boll weevil, or kudzu.  Greenhouse and high-value crops, in particular, are targets.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The invasive perennial vines, kudzu, redvine, and trumpetcreeper are difficult to control with conventional weed control methods and in the Southern United States they are becoming problamatic.  ARS scientists at Stoneville, Mississippi, tested the bioherbicidal fungus, Myrothecium verrucaria, in combination with glyphosate for synergistic interactions. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The weeds were controlled (94 percent, 86 percent, and 78 percent, respectively) in field sites that were infested with these weeds, by simultaneous application of glyphosate and corn oil emulsion formulations containing the fungus.  The results suggest that it may be impossible to greatly enhance the bioherbicidal potential of M. verrucaria using gylphosate as a disease synergist, saving land managers millions of dollars each year. 

develop new methods to mass produce and deliver beneficial insects, such as parasites, predators, and pathogens of insect and weed pests: these include formulation of artificial diets and fermentation (or cell culture) systems for production, invention of automated processing and harvesting equipment, and improving release systems for distribution.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   Research was conducted to replace the expensive and non-biodegradable gelling agents currently used in the screwworm diet with environmentally friendly paper products, including recycled newsprint.  The new paper-based diet was developed by ARS in Tuxtla-Gutierrez, Mexico, in cooperation with APHIS and the Mexican-American Commission for Eradication of Screwworm.  The results have shown that the paper-based diets produce quality insects, while requiring fewer feedings with less total diet material.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The use of the new diet in the mass production facility including labor saving and cost of material is estimated to provide an annual savings of more than $1 million, with the added benefit of a completely biodegradable waste product. 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Improvements in the mass production of beneficial insects (predators and parasites) and their hosts (pest insects) was made by identifying compounds that improve the quality of artificial diets, such as soy isoflavones and optimized quantities of the antioxidant ascorbic acid.  The study also identified substances, such as the preservatives BHT and BHA that reduced dietary quality for test insects.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This use of such dietary modifications to the diets of mass reared insects will increase the efficiency of production and reduce costs of mass producing the pests for use in biologically based control programs.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   A critical step in producing a commercially available biological control product is devising procedures for stabilizing biomass of the biological agent, while maintaining product effectiveness, yet nothing is known about accomplishing this goal with biological control agents active against Fusarium head blight of wheat and barley.  A new crop protectant compound, melezitose (a sugar composed of two glucose and one fructose molecules), showed superiority over seven other previously described cryoprotectants for preserving the viability of freeze dried cells of the Fusarium head blight antagonist, Cryptococcus nodaensis.  This compound was effective in maintaining the viability of yeast for more than 6 weeks when added at the beginning or end of cell production in liquid culture shake flask studies and it was also effective when added to the yeast cells after producing them in large liquid cultures.

IMPACT/OUTCOME: This discovery is a significant step towards producing an effective, commercially available biological control product from an ARS patent pending antagonist of Fusarium head blight of wheat.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:   Solar irradiation is a major environmental constraint to the persistence of fungal and bacterial biological control agents after application.  Formulation ingredients and processing conditions for spray drying were evaluated for encapsulating spores of the bioinsecticidal fungus Beauveria bassiana for protection from solar degradation and subsequent loss of activity.  Key formulation ingredients and physical conditions for spray drying encapsulated formulations of fungal spores were discovered that yielded viable fungal spores with improved solar stability.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The development of this spray drying process for formulating fungal spores with improved solar stability will likely improve the biological control efficacy of these microbial pest control agents under field conditions, thereby enhancing their potential for commercial use in agriculture.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Nutritional and environmental conditions were optimized for the production and stabilization of the fungal bioherbicide, Mycoleptodiscus terrestris, a fungal pathogen and potential biological control agent for the aquatic weed hydrilla.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Results from these studies yielded a method for producing high concentrations of a stable, infective form of the fungus, which will make possible the evaluation of this biological control agent in large-scale field trials.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Cyphocleonus achates, a weed feeding weevil, has been proven to be an effective biological control agent for the invasive weed spotted knapweed.  By rearing field populations of Cyphocleonus achates adults under various combinations of laboratory and greenhouse conditions using both the host plant as well as artificial diets, improved rearing methods were developed that made possible the production of insects over multiple generations.  The methods reduced rearing time and increased survivability of insects to adulthood.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The development of a rearing system that can continuously produce large numbers of Cyphocleonus achates will increase the availability of this agent for use in the biological control of spotted knapweed.

develop remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed and insect distributions, abundance, and damage, and with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Increased knowledge of the biology and behavior, of pests and their natural enemies will be integral to this effort.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Remote sensing technology for detecting leafy spurge before and after attack by Aphthona spp. is underway.  The project is a partnership between ARS, APHIS, North and South Dakota State Universities, and Montana State University, in cooperation with ranchers, USDA-Forest Service, the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the State Departments of Agriculture.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Data from remote sensing will enable a better estimate of damage to leafy spurge from the Aphthona spp., making possible the benefits of the biological control agents to be more precisely determined.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Giant salvinia is an invasive, exotic aquatic fern that occurs in waterways in South and Southeast Texas.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department collaborators and ARS scientists at the Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center, Weslaco, Texas, evaluated remote sensing techniques for distinguishing giant salvinia.  This research demonstrated that giant salvinia has unique reflectance characteristics that facilitates its detection by aerial color-infrared photography.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Airborne remote sensing has potential for differentiating and mapping giant salvinia infestations over large and inaccessible areas.  The development of this technology will make possible the remote analysis of the impact of biological control agents on this invasive species.

determine how the signaling strategies of plants interface with the feeding behavior of pests and the foraging behavior of natural enemies of those pests.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Since research to improve cropping systems in ways that maximize the presence and effectiveness of beneficial insects and other natural pest control is an essential foundation for sustainable pest management, ARS scientists in Georgia and USDA-SARE initiated on-farm studies in cooperation with cotton farmers associated with the Georgia Conservation Tillage Alliance to assess the benefits of various winter cover crop schemes for fostering natural enemy/pest balances, improving soil/water quality, and increasing net profitability.  The results demonstrated that legume blends of crimson clover with another legume or rye fostered increased numbers of beneficial insects.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  In addition to other benefits, cover crop systems can attract beneficial insects, thus reducing the need for pesticide interventions without reductions in yield.  Such systems provide farmers with ecologically based, profitable crop production methodologies.

complete the technology transfer of diagnostic tests for tick vectored equine babesiosis.  This will facilitate the international movement of horses and make equine events in the United States less restrictive.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Equine babesiosis diagnostic test development was completed and the test transferred to the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Having a rapid and accurate diagnostic test for equine babesiosis will now facilitate the international movement of horses for shows, events, and sales.

continue to develop biological methods to control biting and filth flies.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A native, naturally occurring baculovirus, lethal to Culex species of mosquitoes that are primarily responsible for transmitting West Nile virus, was discovered by scientists at the Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, Gainesville, Florida.  The action mode of magnesium salt in enhancing infectivity of the baculovirus was discovered.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Chemical pesticides to control immature mosquitoes are costly and often toxic.  Self-sustaining biological agents are being sought to supplement and reduce chemical use.  The baculovirus discovered in Florida, has been successfully tested in small field trials.  Previously, dependence on certain water salt concentrations limited its effectiveness, but new knowledge of how salts enhance infectivity will lead to more effective formulations.

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to develop and begin to evaluate and transfer biologically-based fire ant control technologies to State and private organizations.

continue to evaluate and begin transfer of Formosan termite control technology to State and industry.

continue field evaluation and improvements of 4-Poster technology for the control of Lyme disease in the Northwest and cattle fever in the Southwest.

continue to develop and transfer sterile fly production technology to APHIS-International Service for use in the screwworm eradication program.

continue to develop and field test biologically-based management methods to control biting and filth breeding insects (e.g., mosquitoes, using bacteria, viruses, and microsporidia biocontrol agents as replacements for conventional chemical control methods.

develop new methods and products for improved control of Marek’s disease, avian leukosis, avian influenza, avian pneumovirus, swine influenza, porcine circovirus, bovine cryptosporidiosis, Brucella abortus in bison and swine, mastitis in dairy cows, foot‑and‑mouth disease, and Pasteurella‑ and Bordetella‑induced respiratory diseases of livestock and poultry.

develop improved diagnostic and typing  methods for Marek’s disease virus, avian leukosis virus, vesicular stomatitis virus,  adenoviral diseases in ruminants, foot‑and‑mouth disease, African swine fever, hog cholera, and entrohemorrhagic E. coli.

identify genes involved in pathogenesis of bluetongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viruses.

identify bovine genes responsible for resistance to internal parasites.

sequence genome of vesicular stomatitis virus, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis and entrohemorrhagic E. coli.

determine whether selected species of mosquitoes are susceptible to infection with the West Nile Virus.

continue to determine the movement, breeding habitat, and biological control agents of stable flies, which will be used to develop new pest management strategies for the U.S. livestock industry.

continue development of a practical and improved trap for monitoring populations of horn flies on cattle and  the amitraz collar for the control of lone star ticks on deer.

determine if there is an association between the levels of a dissolved salt or salts in larval habitats and the presence of biting midges.

develop safe and effective alternatives to synthetic fungicides.

develop cultural and biological control measures to control soilborne diseases associated with minimum tillage.

develop nematode management strategies based on non-chemical approaches.

develop IPM-based strategies for cropping systems.

deliver IPM components and systems and areawide suppression technologies for control of pests to the State extension services, grower partners, and customers.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in rapid response teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species having the  potential to become major invasive species.

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage.  Develop economic thresholds and relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control efforts and measure success. 

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop, evaluate and transition biologically based agents and innovative delivery systems to control arthropods of veterinary, medical, or urban importance.

further develop genomics and proteomics to assist with the delivery of an integrated pest management strategy.

develop safe and effective alternatives to synthetic fungicides.

develop cultural and biological  measures to control soilborne diseases associated with minimum tillage.

develop nematode management strategies based on non-chemical approaches.

develop integrated pest management (IPM) based strategies for cropping systems.

deliver pest management technologies for control of pests, including areawide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technologies, to extension, industry, partners, and customers.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in rapid response teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species. 

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches as the key strategies of biologically based weed management, in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage, and, together with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success. 

During FY 2005, ARS will

utilize the knowledge gained from the further sequencing of important microbial agriculture pathogens to better understand the host pathogen interaction and therefore better establish an improved pest management strategy.

develop, evaluate and transition biologically based agents and innovative delivery systems to control arthropods of veterinary, medical or urban importance.

develop safe and effective alternatives to synthetic fungicides.

develop cultural and biological control measures to control soilborne diseases associated with minimum tillage.

develop nematode management strategies based on non-chemical approaches.

develop integrated pest management (IPM) based strategies for cropping systems.

deliver pest management technologies for control of pests, including areawide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technologies, to extension, industry, partners, and customers.

develop and deliver new detection tools for assisting APHIS in interdicting invasive species, and take part in rapid response teams for identification and early eradication of newly discovered species with potential to become major invasive species. 

suppress native or invasive weed pests by using classical and augmentative biological control approaches as the key strategies of biologically based weed management, in permanent and managed ecosystems.

develop and deliver remote sensing systems for monitoring invasive weed distribution, abundance, and damage, and, together with development of economic thresholds, relate this information to biological control prospects.  Climate matching models will be used as decision aids to guide biological control success. 

STRATEGY 4.3.2:  Integrated agricultural production systems:  Develop knowledge and integrated technologies for promoting use of environmentally sustainable agricultural production systems.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.2.1:  Demonstrate the effectiveness of integrated agricultural production systems in the improvement of natural resources and protection of the environment.

Indicators:

During FY 2003, ARS will

continue to provide information on production systems effects on productivity and environmental quality.

provide realistic scenarios for spatially variable application of chemical inputs by small cotton farmers; release recommendations for improving soil nutrient balance strategies for organic, no-till systems for corn and cotton, with application to vegetables and other crops; and describe systems that utilize new cover crops and  their management for cotton production using conservation tillage.

During FY 2004, ARS will

have methodology available to remediate soils contaminated by nickel using phytoextration.

develop specific cropping systems and management practices to increase potato grower profits and control plant diseases with reduced chemical inputs.

During FY 2005, ARS will

have methodology available to remediate soils contaminated by nickel using phytoextration.

develop specific cropping systems and management practices to increase potato grower profits and control plant diseases with reduced chemical inputs.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.2.2:  Provide computer-based models and decision-support systems to farmers, public agencies, and private organizations.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

provide technical support to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as that agency deploys the ARS-developed Water Erosion Prediction Project model throughout the Nation for the first time.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The U.S. Forest Service is using the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) in road siting and design to assess the effects of timber harvesting and address the impacts of wildfire.  NRCS has chosen to implement the RUSLE2 (a upgraded version of the original Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation) model developed by ARS as the tool of choice to estimate soil erosion of farming practices at the farm field scale, and are continuing to test and evaluate the WEPP model for other applications.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The WEPP model will help forest managers select the best management practices to help reduce soil erosion and sedimentation in the Nation’s streams and lakes, and protect vital endangered wildlife habitat in the Nation’s national forests. 

complete and evaluate the final version of the sage grouse simulation model that will aid public and private land managers in developing grazing plans that will adequately protect bird habitats.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS Scientists at Dubois, Idaho, and Mandan, North Dakota, in cooperation with Texas A&M University and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, have developed a model to simulate the effects of fire and grazing on sagebrush communities and sage grouse population dynamics.  Results indicate frequent, large-scale fires may contribute to significant declines of local populations.  Sheep grazing may also result in small declines in sage grouse numbers.  The model is a preliminary attempt to provide additional information for managing rangelands to benefit sage grouse populations. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Because of declining sage grouse populations, alternative management strategies must be rapidly evaluated at low costs with minimal adverse impact on the bird population.  The model is an important step in developing affordable decision support systems that can quickly provide valuable information for managing rangelands to benefit sage grouse populations, while maintaining other natural resource uses. 

release new and revised spreadsheets to aid cattle producers in setting optimum stocking rates on Wyoming sagebrush steppe.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Very large-scale aerial (VLSA) photography obtained from low flying ultra‑light aircraft has been tested for two years and found to be an excellent tool for monitoring plant communities over extensive areas.  This timely and accurate source of data makes spreadsheets and other decision support tools more effective in managing grazing operations.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Science‑based data collection and decision support tools that provide affordable information aid producers in identifying stocking rates that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop models and decision support systems for use in economic and water quality risk assessments of agricultural conservation programs.

evaluate yield and profitability data of various silvopastoral systems predicted by U.S. Agroforestry Estate Model to field observations to determine the suitability of tree growth estimates developed from forestry setting for agroforestry systems.

release on the Internet a whole farm simulation model of beef production for evaluating and comparing the long-term economic and environmental impacts of implementing new technologies and management strategies on the farm.

deliver four decision aids for peanut production and marketing.

deliver a baseline for the optimal time path for resource allocation by small, livestock/crop farms in Western Oregon.

During FY 2004, ARS will

demonstrate the use of economic and environmental risk assessment tools to evaluate benefits of implementing water quality improvements in resource conservation planning.

develop predictive models (e.g., CREEDA) describing the economic and environmental impacts of conservation and management options for the West.

produce a comprehensive (Farm suite) peanut management decision support tool.

During FY 2005, ARS will

upgrade the Crop Sequence Calculator, a computer program used by producers to evaluate and customize cropping systems, with research data on late season crops.  

develop a decision support model to reduce ammonia volatilization and distribute the model to user groups through electronic media. 

develop a model-based tool for establishing optimized site specific nutrient application plans.

provide technical support to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) which is the action agency that deploys the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation 2 model.

provide technical support to the U.S. Forest Service, which is the action agency that deploys the Water Erosion Prediction Project model.

provide technical support to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is the agency that deploys  the ARS developed Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS) model throughout the Nation.

STRATEGY 4.3.3:  Waste management and utilization:  Develop and transfer cost-effective technologies and systems to use agricultural, urban, and industrial wastes for production of food, fiber, and other products.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.3.1:  Develop and demonstrate management practices and technologies to effectively handle, store, treat, and apply wastes to obtain consistent economic benefits, while protecting environmental quality, human health, and animal health.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop improved manure liquid/solids separation methods for enhanced nutrient recovery.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists from Florence, South Carolina, in cooperation with North Carolina State University, have developed and evaluated the performance of a solids/liquid separation system for swine wastewater based on injection of polyacrylamide polymers to increase solids flocculation followed by sand filtration to separate the solids.  The system reduced suspended solids in the liquid phase by a factor of 60 and produced removable solids cakes within 48 hours.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Rapid and efficient separation of manure solids from the liquid phase is a critical step in the development of treatment systems technologies that can provide an alternative to anaerobic lagoons for swine wastewater management.  This technique allows over 80 percent of the organic nutrients to be captured in the solid phase, where they can be converted into value added products for horticultural and home gardening markets.

During FY 2003, ARS will

develop improved analytical methods for the detection of pathogens in manure and the environment.

provide additional knowledge about the microorganisms responsible for the generation of malodorous compounds from animal production facilities, and methods to control these odors.  

develop a method for the determination of nitrogen mineralization from manures so that improved nutrient management decisions can be recommended.

develop treatment systems technologies that will improve nitrogen and phosphorous management in swine wastewater.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop management practices and treatment technologies to reduce atmospheric emissions from livestock and poultry production systems.

develop treatment technologies that will reduce or eliminate pathogens in manure and wastewater.

determine the feasibility of “quick tests” to measure phosphorus and nitrogen availability in manures, so that producers can more accurately apply manures for crop and forages production.

provide compost and manure application guidelines for farmers, including options to manage phosphorus levels with byproduct and manure blending.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop a process model to predict air emissions from livestock production operations.

develop tools for tracking sources of manure pathogens.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 4.3.3.2:  Demonstrate the conversion of agricultural waste into liquid fuels and industrial feedstocks.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will develop an improved process for the production of biodiesel from waste edible oils.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  An efficient method was developed to produce biodiesel from acid oil, a coproduct of edible oil refining that sells for approximately half the price of refined oils.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The new technology adds value to a low value lipid, while reducing the cost of producing biodiesel.

During FY 2003, ARS will determine the changes in fuel properties and emissions characteristics when enzymatically oxygenated oils from wastes are used as biodiesel additives.

During FY 2004, ARS will determine the changes in fuel properties and emissions characteristics when enzymatically oxygenated oils from wastes are used as biodiesel additives.

During FY 2005, ARS will determine the changes in fuel properties and emissions characteristics when enzymatically oxygenated oils from wastes are used as biodiesel additives.

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Last Modified: 2/24/2004
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