|2004 Annual Performance Report|
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE
ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR FY 2004
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) was established on
ARS is the principal in-house research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Congress first authorized federally supported agricultural research in the Organic Act of 1862, which established what is now USDA. That statute directed the Commissioner of Agriculture "... To acquire and preserve in his Department all information he can obtain by means of books and correspondence, and by practical and scientific experiments..." The scope of USDA's agricultural research programs has been expanded and extended more than 60 times since the Department was created.
ARS research is authorized by the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1862 (7 U.S.C. 2201 note), Agricultural Research Act of 1935 (7 U.S.C. 427), Research and Marketing Act of 1946 (P.L. 79-733), as amended (7 U.S.C. 427, 1621 note), Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-113), as amended (7 U.S.C. 1281 note), Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198) (7 U.S.C. 3101 note), Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-624) (7 U.S.C. 1421 note), Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-127), and Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-185). ARS derived most of its objectives from statutory language, specifically the “Purposes of Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education” set forth in Section 801 of FAIR.
The ARS mission is to conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to: ensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products; assess the nutritional needs of Americans; sustain a competitive agricultural economy; enhance the natural resource base and the environment; and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.
The Agency’s research focuses on achieving the goals identified in the USDA and Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area Strategic Plans. The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) mandates each agency to establish general goals that will contribute to achieving beneficial societal outcomes that shape and drive the work of the Agency during the five years covered by the plan.
Verification, Validation and Program Evaluation: ARS 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. This process involves customer input to help keep the research focused on the needs of the American food and agricultural system. Each of the approximately 1,000 research projects, which are organized into 22 National Programs, undergoes a thorough external peer review conducted by the Office of Scientific Quality Review (OSQR) before new or renewed activities are begun. All ARS employees, including the scientific workforce, are subject to annual performance reviews. Senior scientists undergo a rigorous peer review (Research Position Evaluation System-RPES) on a 3- to 5-year cycle. These processes ensure the continuing high quality output of the ARS research addressing the needs of American agriculture.
For quality, the Area Directors relied on data from the ARS OSQR reviews of each research project at the beginning of its 5-year program cycle. OSQR conducts rigorous reviews of ARS’ research projects by independent external peer panels to ensure their quality. In addition, the Area Directors used information from the RPES reviews of individual scientists in making this assessment. RPES conducts rigorous peer reviews of ARS’ scientists on a regular schedule (i.e., every three, four, or five years). The Area Directors also assessed the capacity (i.e., facilities, human and fiscal resources, equipment, etc.) of each project to meet its research objectives, an important consideration for intramural programs.
The National Programs focus the work of the Agency on achieving the goals defined in the ARS Strategic Plan 2003-2007. The research priorities for each National Program are established with extensive input from customers, stakeholders, and partners, which is received, in part, at a series of National Program Workshops. A detailed Action Plan developed for each National Program is available on the ARS home page, www.ars.usda.gov; open “Research” and select the National Program of interest. The Annual Performance Plans, the Annual Performance Reports required by GPRA, and the National Program Annual Reports all serve to keep the work of the Agency focused on achieving the goals established in the ARS Strategic Plan. The aggregate effect of these processes is a strengthened research program and an accountability system that measures more effectively the progress made towards achieving established goals and outcomes.
Key External Factors that Affect the Ability of ARS to Achieve its Goals and Objectives: The future of American agriculture depends on its ability to respond to critical external factors. Effective planning within ARS will take these factors into consideration when establishing and executing the Agency’s research programs.
Globalization: The globalization of all aspects of the food and fiber system is having a major impact on American agriculture. Profound changes are seen worldwide from competitive markets around the world, from diseases not limited to national boundaries, to population growth and evolving diets. These changes have led to a dramatically new trade environment, threats of exotic diseases and pests to domestic production, and international controversies over the use of biotechnology. To remain competitive, the food and agriculture sector needs to respond to these developments.
Information Access and Communication: The explosion of information technology, the worldwide use of the Internet, and the major advancements of cyberspace communications are changing the way private industry, government, and individuals conduct daily business. Vast amounts of information soon will be available in “real time,” more people from around the world will be able to retrieve the information, and advanced computer software will make the information more useful and meaningful. Advancements in communication technology offer benefits and opportunities for everyone involved in the American food and agriculture sector.
Workforce: A very important employment issue is the need to recruit and retain a highly skilled and technically well trained Federal workforce. The relatively low
Technology: Advances in technology--such as bioengineering, precision agriculture, remote sensing, and decision modeling--enable agricultural production to enhance nutrition, protect the environment, and continue to make the food supply safe. Biotechnology offers great promise for increasing production efficiency, improving food quality, and enhancing nutritional value. However, concerns about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have had a marked impact on international exports of affected commodities, and prompted questions about the potential benefits and risks. Precision agriculture, remote sensing, and decision modeling will both increase production efficiency and mitigate adverse environmental impacts of agriculture. Public concern about food safety has led to new rapid detection technologies that, when fully implemented, will make the food supply increasingly safer.
Changing Demographics: Growing global populations, demographic changes, and economic growth will substantially increase the demand for agricultural products, thus creating new markets for
Changing Structure of Agriculture: The structure of the food and fiber system--from farm to market--changed dramatically in the last decades of the 20th century, and is likely to continue. Change can be seen all across the food and agriculture sectors. An increasing share of
Congressional Support: The ability of ARS to respond to the diverse needs of producers and consumers is determined by the level of Congressional support. As a consequence of inflation and higher operating costs associated with advances in research equipment and technology, the ARS scientific workforce, which reached a maximum of about 3,400 scientists in 1970, decreased by almost 40 percent during the ensuing 25 years. More recently, appropriations have allowed the Agency to expand its research program and hire additional scientists to bring the current number of scientists to almost 2,200.
Drug-Free Workplace: ARS will continue to use the applicable contract clauses and regulations to ensure compliance with drug-free workplace debarment and suspension requirements in all of its acquisition programs.
General Comments: In January 1998, ARS requested permission from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “to describe specific and tangible products, steps, intermediate goals, and/or accomplishments that will demonstrate that the Agency has successfully met each Performance Measure/Goal in a given fiscal year.” With OMB’s concurrence, ARS is able to use narrative descriptions of intermediate outcomes and indicators of progress instead of numerical metrics as specified in GPRA. The FY 2004 accomplishments reflect actual achievements against the FY 2004 indicators previously identified. The research and technology transfer activities listed in this report are not all inclusive of the Agency’s work. The reported accomplishments reflect, but do not adequately capture, the broad range of basic research that underpins the Agency’s work.
Only Federal employees were involved in the preparation of this report.
GOAL 1: ENHANCE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES FOR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS
Analysis of Results: This goal is related to production agriculture, adding quality and value to agricultural products, new products, biobased products, and biofuels. Under Goal 1, 24 Indicators are aligned under 11 Performance Measures. As the National Programs evolve, the Agency will report more accomplishments achieved by collaborative research at multiple locations involving more than one scientific discipline. Thus, we anticipate reporting fewer accomplishments, but accomplishments that are broader in scope that make greater contributions to American agriculture. While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in these Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2004. Ninety-three significant accomplishments are reported below.
OBJECTIVE 1.1: Provide the Science-Based Knowledge and Technologies To Generate New or Improved High Quality, Value-Added Products and Processes To Expand Domestic and Foreign Markets for Agricultural Commodities.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop new or improved, or more environmentally friendly, processing technologies.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: To meet the needs of the military for wool fabrics that will not burn, scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Participating wool mills are anticipated to include this new technology in their existing product lines, thereby increasing the demand for domestic wool fiber and apparel for traditional and new uses.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Industry is searching for a biobased process to produce mannitol (a low-calorie sugar alcohol widely used in foods, pharmaceuticals, medicines, and chemical industries) to replace the problematic low yield chemical process currently used. Researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The private sector partner in this project has applied for FDA approval of the process and the product. The new process offers an attractive alternative to the chemical production process and utilizes inexpensive corn-derived sugars.
develop new or improved methods to measure or predict quality.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Moisture is typically added back to cotton during ginning and spinning, but too much moisture can adversely affect fiber quality and processing. In trials on a commercial gin with a commercially available moisture restoration system, researchers in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Based on the work at Clemson, the National Cotton Council established a level of 7.5 percent moisture as the highest level of restored moisture acceptable at ginning. Based on the work at
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Non-destructive sensing of fruit quality attributes, such as firmness and soluble solids content (SSC), will allow the fruit industry to deliver superior, consistent quality fruit to the marketplace and better meet consumer demands for high quality fruit. Researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Initial evaluation demonstrated that the prototype is promising for sorting and grading individual apples and other fruit for firmness and SSC.
develop technologies leading to new or improved products from renewable resources and agricultural residues and wastes.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A soy oil-based elevator hydraulic fluid technology was developed by scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A leading lubrication company has applied for a product license for commercial production of the fluid. This work resulted in a 2004 “Excellence in Technology Transfer” award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium. Potential exists for expanded utilization of this biobased, biodegradable fluid in place of petroleum-based fluids.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A Japanese company is interested in the technology and is currently evaluating the bait system. This development offers a possible new market for cottonseed and a biobased biocontrol technology.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop new or improved methods to measure or predict quality, or to sort by quality.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Aflatoxin and fumonisin are carcinogens found in corn. Rapid detection means are needed to ensure a safe food and feed supply. Researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This technology will help ensure the safety of the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The mechanical harvesting of billeted (9-15cm long) sugarcane is now more predominant than the harvesting of whole stalk cane in Louisiana, but the billeted cane deteriorates faster so there is now a more urgent need to have a reliable test of the extent of cane deterioration at the factory. Deteriorated cane contributes to sugar losses and processing problems in the factory. Researchers in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This new method will allow factory staff to determine if a shipment load of cane can be economically processed or not.
develop functional food ingredients and/or products.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: New fruit and vegetable products and processes and their consumption can help to combat the rising obesity epidemic in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A patent was filed on the final products and processes. The cooperator is building a food manufacturing plant in a rural area of
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists at WRRC in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This discovery provides the legume industry with critical scientific knowledge necessary for the development of more heart-friendly foods.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Fantesk(TM) is a patented technology developed at the NCAUR in Peoria, Illinois, which uses cornstarch and soybean oil, surplus products of U.S. agricultural production, or other crop-based materials, which has both food and non-food applications. A starch-based Fantesk gel was developed that has many of the desirable properties of a solid fat. This gel is blended into low fat ground beef produced hamburger patties with improved flavor, texture, and juiciness.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The licensee of the technology is currently working with food processors to produce and market Fantesk containing low fat meat products. Improving the sensory properties of low fat foods, to make them more closely resemble their full fat analogues, will encourage consumers to purchase these low fat, healthier alternatives.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Current rice starch processing requires extensive soaking of rice in dilute caustic solutions prior to separation of its starch and protein. These processes involve water and energy, and are time intensive and require costly wastewater treatment. The process uses high pressure supplied by a microfluidizer (homogenizer) to separate the starch from the protein. Scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This technology has the potential of reducing imports of rice starch and increasing profits for the
develop improved or new methods to maintain quality of food products.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research could result in a higher net income for producers, and a greater marketing potential of higher quality wheat to domestic and overseas buyers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Engineers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The results of this study, the first of its kind, will be used by elevator operators to better segregate grain with desirable characteristics into separate channels for delivery to end users. This information is also useful to grain processors for improving their handling of specialty grains.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This finding is important since repeat sales of fresh cut apple products is driven by consumer satisfaction with product taste, including texture, sweetness, acidity, and aroma. ‘Goldrush’ apples can be refrigerated for 12 months in air before processing and for three weeks as the cut product. Once “Goldrush” becomes more commercially available, these findings will enable fresh cut processors to provide a better testing product and enhance fresh cut apple sales.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Fruity fermented off flavor is a significant economic problem for producers in areas where peanuts are exposed to high temperature during initial curing. Scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Because these findings occurred in one of the worst years (2003) for the off flavor, this information has been instrumental in changes by producers toward use of sandwich diggers as standard practice.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop improved biomass plants, sustainable biomass production systems, and efficient handling and storage technology for biomass feedstocks.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Provides the technology for and demonstrates the potential for large quantities of ethanol producing crops to be grown while avoiding soil erosion and protecting soil quality.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Genetically modified switchgrass, an herbaceous energy crop, by Agrobacterium mediated transformation to successfully provide plant material that is more readily converted to ethanol by existing technologies.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Provides the technology to improve the characteristics of crops grown for liquid transportation fuel production.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Developed hybrid cultivars of switchgrass and demonstrated their potential to increase yields of biomass for use as bioenergy feedstock.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Increased potential of switchgrass as an energy crop.
develop technology and systems that improve the efficiency, economics, and sustainability of energy production from agricultural biomass.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Improved commercial potential for this environmentally favorable bioprocessing technology.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These developments increase ethanol production from barley, improve the economics of the process, and provide an additional market for farmers where barley can be grown.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Development of an environmentally friendly process for extracting valuable oil from corn.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Described an adaptive response of yeasts to fermentation inhibitors that are byproducts of dilute acid hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass, and developed adapted strains that were shown to be able to convert these inhibitors into forms that are less toxic.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Provided fundamental guidelines for further development of industrial yeasts to alleviate the stress factors associated with commercial dilute acid hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Identified binary mixtures of oxidation inhibitors (antioxidants) exhibiting synergistic effects when applied to improve oxidative stability of biodiesel.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A lower cost method has been identified to protect biodiesel fuel from oxidative degradation and maintain fuel quality.
develop renewable energy technology and systems to meet on-farm and remote rural needs and to enhance the rural economy.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Demonstrated that a new submersible pump powered by wind or solar energy can pump water from a deep well while requiring little maintenance, that is less costly to install than a mechanical windmill.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A more economical method has been identified for farmers and ranchers to provide water for livestock in remote locations.
OBJECTIVE 1.2: Contribute to the Efficiency of Agricultural Production Systems.
During FY 2004, ARS will develop scientific information that contributes to improved efficiency and environmental stewardship of food animal production systems.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Previous work by ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The dairy industry relies heavily upon the use of silage as a feedstuff, but silage preservation is often inadequate to ensure quality. One of the critical control points impacting silage quality is the control of detrimental amino acid degrading bacteria during the ensiling process. These results suggest that the bacteriocin producing bacteria S. bovis, has the potential to improve silage quality.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research conducted at the Grazinglands Research Laboratory,
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These farm scale studies of stocker calf weight gains indicate that a variety of grasses can be grazed a full month later in the spring than wheat pasture, extending the marketing date of stocker calves past the seasonal lows in beef prices associated with the end of the wheat pasture grazing season. These findings allow livestock producers to more consistently meet the forage needs of stocker calves and reduce the economic losses associated with livestock production in the southern
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists developed advanced oxidation processes for controlling and mitigating microbial populations and critical water quality parameters within a re-circulation fish production system. They developed a disease challenge model for a rainbow trout pathogen (Yersinia ruckeri) at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These health management accomplishments will reduce the risk of losses from diseases and improve profitability of warm and cold water aquaculture.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers developed a technique for measuring the palatability of shrimp feeds needed to implement the use of plant protein sources in their diets at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research will help demonstrate the feasibility of replacing fishmeal in aquaculture diets. Replacing fishmeal in aquaculture feeds improves the sustainability of aquaculture and reduces the cost of the feed.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS showed that stressing pregnant sows carried over to their off-spring an altered physiology, demonstrated that dopamine and serotonin are useful indicators of stress in chicken genetic improvement, and demonstrated an alterative to forced molting (feed removal). A patent application is being pursued at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This information provides livestock producers with methods for reducing stress in swine and chickens.
During FY 2004, ARS will
identify underlying genetic and physiologic mechanisms impacting reproductive efficiency, nutrient conversion, and growth in food animals.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research work conducted in the Breeding and Genetics Unit at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Nebraska, has determined that variation in the thyroxine-binding globulin gene causes a 30 to 40 percent reduction in the size of the mature testes with a concomitant reduction in average backfat thickness.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This discovery has identified a new biochemical pathway regulating testes size, a trait that is directly related to the number of sperm cells that a boar produces in a day. Since the swine industry relies heavily upon artificial insemination, maximizing the number of sperm cells produced daily by a boar will minimize the number of boars required in boar studs.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research conducted by ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: One of the major goals of swine improvement is to change the proportion of lean to fat content of pork while maintaining eating quality. This information provides a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling fat tissue secretory function that in turn provides opportunities for genetic improvement in body composition.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS completed two early growth evaluations of five different genetic stocks of North American Atlantic Salmon at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These accomplishments increase the probability of improving the economically important traits for farmed salmonids, and provide a method to nearly eliminate risk of escapes to the environment.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS conducted aquaculture research on the mechanisms of stress response and performance, important information on fish health.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This knowledge will be used to develop superior genetic lines of fish, effective nutrient conversion, and health management and production systems to reduce operating costs.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS developed a technology for artificial insemination spawning of southern flounder and pompano at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This technology is critical for making fingerlings available to producers.
develop technologies leading to improved marketability of animal products.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Retail yield of beef carcasses in the beef industry is predicted through the assignment of a visually determined yield grade by a USDA official grader prior to carcass fabrication. Due to the inherent subjectivity of this system, ARS researchers at Clay Center, Nebraska, in collaboration with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Tyson Fresh Meats, have developed an image analysis system for use on-line in commercial packing plants to predict boneless, closely trimmed sub-primal cutout yields.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: One of the targeted areas to increase production efficiency in the beef industry is improved lean retail yield of carcasses. Application of this on-line instrument allows more objective and accurate prediction of beef retail yield under commercial conditions. Two of the four major beef processors have now implemented this system with others considering it for future implementation.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists demonstrated that a previously thought harmless alga caused fish kills. They developed a management remedy at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The management remedy was communicated to fish farmers; has the potential for saving thousands of dollars in losses.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS identified a natural algicide in laboratory screening. Tests in field evaluations confirmed its capability to control algae-related off favors in catfish.
During FY 2004, ARS will
identify genes and their function leading to DNA tests for use in food animal genetic improvement programs.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Advances in cattle genomics have enabled scientists to identify genes affecting a wide array of traits of economic importance (so-called Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL)). ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: One of the most critical issues facing the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Swine and beef reproduction research over the past 20 years at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Nebraska, has been focused on identification of physiological mechanisms contributing to increased reproductive capacity. Researchers have validated that a previously identified genetic marker for the pig erythropoieten receptor gene is associated with a two to three pig difference in ultimate litter size, and for the first time, two QTLs for male reproductive traits in cattle (testes size and follicle stimulating hormone).
IMPACT/OUTCOME: One of the primary selection criteria in genetic improvement programs in the livestock industry is reproductive rate. By increasing the total production per female in the breeding herd, profitability is enhanced significantly for the individual producer through increased output over static fixed costs. Identification of these QTLs will lead to enhanced efficiency of genetic improvement programs for reproductive rates in swine and cattle germplasm.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research in the Growth Biology Laboratory at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Development of a more complete understanding of the biological mechanisms regulating feed intake in poultry and livestock is needed in order to better tailor production systems to available genetic lines to improve production efficiency. This research provides new information necessary to understand how the peptide hormones are produced and what impact changes in the expression of this gene might have on glucose metabolism and appetite regulation in poultry.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers identified genes expressed in rainbow trout oocyte using a successfully constructed cDNA library from rainbow trout oocyte, identified immune genes of rainbow trout, and identified genes that expressed calpain protein in rainbow trout. They also identified genes expressing toll-like receptors believed to be involved in disease resistance of catfish. Insulin–like growth factors I and II showed promise as markers for selection of channel catfish broodstock for superior growth.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Gene identification and marker development are important steps in integrating molecular technology and genetic selection in breeding of superior performing fish.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS was issued a patent for a diagnostic test to detect bacterial kidney disease in rainbow trout at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This diagnostic test will be commercialized and useful to trout producers in identifying sick fish.
develop genomics infrastructure and tools that will enhance efficiency and speed of gene identification, and utilization of DNA data in genetic improvement programs of food animals.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center have: 1) added 800 genes to the integrated bovine map via single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping in introns; 2) increased the number of microsatellite markers in the bovine linkage map from 1,500 to 3,800; 3) deposited 680 sheep, 4,429 cattle, and 5,445 swine SNPs in the public database, GenBank, at NCBI (prior to these submissions no more than 100 SNP had been deposited for any of the species); 4) deposited 13,922 bovine and 65,866 porcine expressed sequence tags (ESTs) in GenBank; 5) developed a set of 14,000 ESTs with unique 3-prime end sequences for use in developing a commercial cattle microarray; and 6) developed and tested a pipeline for identification, complete sequencing, and annotation of full-length cDNA clones for livestock genes through which 500 bovine full length cDNAs were identified.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: 2004 was a milestone year in livestock genomics with the completion of the chicken genome sequence and the release of the first draft of the bovine genome sequence. ARS research has laid much of the path for this development and in the past year has significantly enhanced the information contained in the livestock genetic maps. These tools are enabling the more rapid discovery of genes and their functions, required to build genomic tools to improve production efficiency, animal health, and well-being of beef and dairy cattle, swine, and sheep.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: When the first case of BSE, more commonly referred to as “mad cow disease,” was reported in Washington State in December of 2003, it became one of the first major applications of genomic technology in providing a valuable and rapid solution in a crisis situation in animal agriculture. Records identified the sire and other relatives of the BSE index case and their tissues were available for genetic analyses. ARS scientists at Clay Center, Nebraska, used a panel of single nucleotide polymorphism DNA markers, under development for animal identification, to quickly verify the pedigree of the affected cow, which was traced back to a Canadian origin.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Using this genotyping test, scientific evidence was made available to show that the affected animal was one of a group of 81 females that had crossed the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research conducted in the ARS Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory at Beltsville,
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The volume of data being generated from analysis of DNA sequence and downstream applications in functional genomics and proteomics research is growing exponentially as the genomes of the major livestock species are being added to the sequence infrastructure. This software will facilitate ease of transfer and access to such data by researchers worldwide working across many species, especially the 25 groups around the world who have already requested and received the source code.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A new normalized cDNA library has been synthesized from lactating dairy cow and calf intestinal tissue to facilitate gene discovery in ruminant metabolism by researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The production of meat, milk, and wool products is considered to be relatively inefficient due to the fact that upwards of two-thirds of the input costs are expended for feed energy required for maintenance of body tissues largely attributable to energy expended by the visceral tissues (liver and gut). This library will facilitate the search for specific metabolic pathways, transporters, growth factor receptors, and growth factors that have profound effects on ruminant visceral energy and protein metabolism, paving the way for improvements through precision management and genetics.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS characterized a rainbow trout bacterial artificial base chromosome library made up of about 135,000 base pair DNA segments for use in constructing physical maps. Subsequent sequencing evaluations and measures of stress are being studied for use in development of biomarkers and strategies to manage disease.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This accomplishment has great potential to expedite the genetic improvement and production efficiency of rainbow trout.
During FY 2004, ARS will
continue to characterize germplasm of food animals for traits of importance.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at Miles City, Montana, have been working for a number of years to develop a framework for application of selection indexes in the beef cattle seedstock industry. In the past year, selection indexes based on this research were made available to the American International Charolais Association, American Hereford Association, American Simmental Association, North American Limousin Foundation, the Angus Sire Alliance, and the South African Agricultural Research Council.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Genetic improvement programs in the beef cattle industry are complex due to the need to select a wide array of performance criteria. This research enables beef cattle breeders to use an optimal approach to genetic improvement where breeding values for a variety of economically important traits are appropriately weighted according to their economic value, genetic variation, and genetic relationships into an aggregate “overall” index breeding value.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The beef cattle industry has widely capitalized upon the characterization of germplasm representing 34 breeds through the Germplasm Evaluation Project conducted at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. Results from the project provided evidence that the genetic variation observed amongst Continental European and British breeds for growth performance has significantly decreased over the past decade.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These results are critically important to beef cattle breeders as they design selection objectives within breeds and crossbreeding systems using multiple breeds to make genetic improvement.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research conducted at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Nebraska, has concluded that ewes sired by Romanov rams were 59 percent more productive than ewes sired by traditional sheep breeds used for out of season breeding (Dorset and Finnsheep). Greater use of Romanov-crossbred ewes in maternal roles of terminal crossbreeding systems would contribute to enhanced profitability of sheep production.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Length of seasonal fertility largely determines the effectiveness of accelerated lambing systems and annual systems that breed females in the spring of the year. Efficiency of commercial sheep production could be markedly improved through the use of Romanov germplasm in maternal line development to enhance seasonal fertility.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This information was made available to fish producers to aid in their decisions about which strains or lines of fish to grow.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers developed a large scale facility for genetic evaluation of oysters. They established a collaborative genetic project to reduce cadmium in oysters, a long-term objective toward breeding improved oysters for the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The large scale rearing facility will enable more rapid progress of the genetic selection project. A discriminatory factor in international trade will be eliminated for
improve cryopreservation technology for storage of animal germplasm and continue to increase the stocks of germplasm stored within the National Animal Germplasm Program repository.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The National Animal Germplasm Program, located at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Breeding populations of livestock have narrowed considerably in their genetic diversity over the past several decades prompting concerns regarding adequate levels of genetic variability and biosecurity. This progress provides increased security of farm animal genetic resources and maintenance of animal genetic variation.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists in the ARS Biotechnology and Germplasm Laboratory at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The commercial turkey industry relies exclusively on artificial insemination (AI) for production. Due to low success of cryopreservation of semen, these AI procedures rely on the use of fresh semen, which requires costly maintenance of male populations on production farms. A unique aspect of turkeys is that they have the ability to store live sperm in the oviduct of the hen for extended periods of time in sperm storage tubules. These results are the first step in identifying novel proteins for maintenance of poultry sperm viability and provide one of the first examples of the power of having a whole genome sequence available from the chicken.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS confirmed that ghrelin, a hormone involved with growth and feed intake in terrestrial animals was in rainbow trout, tilapia, and catfish. It was identified as a new regulatory pathway for controlling growth hormone secretion. Researchers found that feed efficiency of groups of related fish was adequately large to use in improving performance.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These accomplishments will be used for developing more efficient strains of finfish for aquaculture.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop technologies and strategies to manage or mitigate pests, pathogens, weather damage, and/or improve crop quality to strengthen the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Demonstrated that post-plant application of a hydrophobic kaolin clay mulch provided excellent weed control during the establishment year of blackberries with no adverse effects.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: An environmentally safe and economical weed management technique for small fruit and horticultural crops was identified.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Papaya and plum trees have been genetically engineered to resist virus pathogens (papaya ring spot virus and plum pox virus) that otherwise threaten to eliminate the production of these fruits. In both cases there is no other known method available to generate resistance to these devastating diseases.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The resistant papaya tree has restored papaya production in Hawaii to pre-disease levels, and ARS (Hilo, Hawaii) is cooperating with scientists from many other countries to develop their own locally adapted resistant varieties of this fruit, a dietary staple with excellent nutritional value in much of the tropical world. The pox-resistant plum variety developed by ARS (
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: In southern States, there are many large poultry and swine feeding facilities which are sources of phosphorus pollution from livestock waste. Soybeans that are naturally low in phytate (a major cause of phosphorus in animal wastes) are a great advantage in reducing pollution. The new information makes it possible to devise efficient plant breeding methods to transfer the low phytate genes to soybean varieties.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These new varieties will help diversity and expand markets for
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Contamination of corn grain with mycotoxins (aflatoxin and fumonisin) can cause food safety problems and major losses to
maintain genetic and genomic databases and make information accessible via standard software from the Internet.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This central site ensures that the most recent genetics and genomics discoveries are rapidly deployed to wheat, barley, and oats genetic improvement programs.
During FY 2004, ARS will
describe in model plants and crop plants the structure, function, and regulation of agriculturally important genes that control plant composition and yield.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This information enables the construction of very specific molecular markers that will facilitate the selection of very low linolenic acid germplasm from breeding populations. Genetic reduction of linolenic acid in soybean oil is a major step that enables the manufacture of more healthful foods with low levels of ‘trans’ isomers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: All aspects of plant biology hinge on their ability to perceive light. Phytochrome is the major light receptor for plants. ARS scientists at the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The research may provide insight into the molecular mechanism by which light controls agriculturally relevant responses, such as floral induction.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Winterkill and cold temperatures cause major losses every year to horticultural plants and field crops. These studies advance the science of freezing protection and identifying genes and methods that can be used to improve crop resistance.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: As a result of the research, we will be able to identify the risks associated with genetic engineering that need to be prevented or ameliorated. The data is essential to regulatory agencies charged with oversight of agricultural biotechnology. Consumers in the
improve plant genetic transformation systems to expand their usefulness and improve exploitation of genome sequence information to identify valuable genes in raw germplasm collections.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists at the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The three systems, when working together, will provide an unprecedented level of control over the potential environmental spread of transgenic DNA, one of the chief concerns voiced repeatedly by consumers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists within the Plant Stress and Germplasm Development Unit in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Plant productivity in arid climates often is reduced by temperature stress. This discovery will improve the ability to develop more heat tolerant crops.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Identified the true sex pheromone of the female dogwood borer, an increasingly important wood-boring pest of apple, and developed pheromone lures for the capture of male moths.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A technology for mating disruption was identified that could control the pest insect of apples and reduce or eliminate the need for use of insecticides.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop new genetic methods and tools to identify specific genes that affect end-product traits desired by consumers, such as oil and grain quality, disease resistance, and stress tolerance in agricultural crops.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists are very active in identifying, characterizing, and transferring genes that provide resistance to pests and pathogens, combining modern genomic methods with traditional breeding, for use in developing resistant crop varieties. Examples include: resistance to reniform nematode in cotton (College Station, Texas; and Mississippi State, Mississippi); resistance to soybean cyst nematode (Beltsville, Maryland); resistance to Fusarium wilt in cotton (Shafter, California); resistance to soybean rust (national multi-location cooperative effort); resistance to Aspergillus flavus in cotton (New Orleans, Louisiana), corn (Mississippi State, Mississippi), and peanut (Tifton, Georgia); and resistance to Fusarium head blight in grains (Fargo, North Dakota; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Madison, Wisconsin).
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Resistance genes, many of which are very difficult to transfer, will be the basis for improving resistance to pests and pathogens, thereby enhancing yields and quality, reducing dependence on pesticides, and improving profitability and sustainability of U.S. agriculture.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A major constraint for crop breeders is limited knowledge concerning which genes control valuable traits. This new approach was developed to make breeding more efficient in selecting genes. For the first time, it is now possible to exploit corn genomic discoveries to facilitate more targeted, efficient corn improvement.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Genetic diversity in agricultural crops is thought to decline during their evolution from wild species to modern land races, and even more rapidly as man has selected elite cultivars from the land races for commercial production. Recent findings by ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This unexpected discovery suggests that genetic association analysis using whole genome scans may be feasible for gene or QTL discovery. This approach is based on the first application of “linkage disequilibrium” theory in a self-fertilized crop species, such as soybean, and suggests the possibility of a much more efficient approach to discover genes or QTL in the soybean germplasm collections, such as that maintained by the USDA.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research is being accelerated with the development of 20 single sequence repeat (SSR) molecular markers. These tools will enable marker assisted selection for traits, such as high hydroxy fatty acids, improved oil content, and other yield related traits. Lower oil costs for products, such as biodegradable motor oils, are needed to improve chances for commercialization of lesquerella.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Insects and diseases cause major losses to the
construct and maintain physical, genetic, and transcript maps to facilitate comparative analyses among plant genomes.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This map will be useful to define the QTLs affecting oleic acid composition in the sunflower seed oil.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The soybean genome is composed of two duplicated sets of chromosomes. This makes reassembly and assignment of gene sequences to the correct chromosome very difficult. Statistical modeling of redundant BAC ‘hits’ using mapped genetic markers indicated that most soybean genes will be found in approximately 25 percent of the genome, thus making genome sequencing in soybean much more manageable and providing clues to the sequencing strategy that will save millions of dollars in sequencing costs.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Relatively few breeding lines have been used in the parentage of most modern soybean varieties in commercial production. This “narrow genetic” base does not take advantage of the great genetic diversity that exists in the soybean germplasm collection. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: In the near isogenic populations the yield increases per QTL ranged from 2.9 to 4.5 bushels per acre. A new germplasm release, LG00-3372, was the highest yielding entry in Uniform Preliminary Test IIIB in 2003. This line is a selection from the cross of two Chinese varieties, Hui nan zi hua he jia (PI 561319A) x Fen dou 31 (PI 574477); and the pedigree is 87 percent exotic germplasm.
During FY 2004, ARS will
identify, acquire, and expand the genetic base of crops through new accessories to enhance the diversity of plant germplasm collections.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The 20+ genebanks in the USDA/ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) now conserve 460,000 separate samples of over 10,700 plant species. During the last few years, scientific interest in this germplasm has increased significantly, with more than 130,000 samples distributed last year to requesters worldwide.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These materials are key to enabling continued progress in crop genetics and breeding, requisite for future food security.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These advances furnish new, more powerful bioinformatic/database tools for accelerating progress in understanding the detailed genetic structure of grain genomes. The new insights gained may aid grain crop genetic improvement.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Not only was this a successful proof-of-concept for a new method, it also identified new genes potentially valuable for breeding corn tailored to meeting specific agronomic and industrial needs.
strengthen breeding and evaluating of minor agronomic crops that have increasing economic importance.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The research results in the first long-term pecan test system focused on pecan genetic improvement in a major
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists at ARS genebanks developed and/or applied new genetic markers, called “SSRs,” to a broad spectrum of crops, such as peanuts, citrus, grapes, tropical legumes, mangoes, paspalum, tropical ornamental bulbs, blueberries, and hazelnuts. They developed a means for assaying genetic variability in DNA rapidly and inexpensively.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The markers are molecular tools potentially useful for accelerating progress in crop genetic resource conservation and breeding.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Developed techniques to effectively identify watercore and mealiness in apples by using spectral reflection of near infrared frequencies.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The new technology that was developed could form the basis for sorting and removing defective apples.
GOAL 2: SUPPORT INCREASED ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES AND IMPROVED QUALITY OF LIFE IN RURAL
The major thrusts of ARS’ mission are to conduct research that: ensures high quality, safe food and other agricultural products; assesses the nutritional needs of Americans; sustains a competitive agricultural economy; and enhances the natural resource base and the environment. In carrying out these research functions, ARS provides economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole. While ARS research has a large and very positive impact on rural
GOAL 3: ENHANCE PROTECTION AND SAFETY OF THE NATION’S AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SUPPLY
Analysis of Results: This goal is related to food safety and the security of the
OBJECTIVE 3.1: Provide Science-Based Knowledge on the Safe Production, Storage, Processing, and Handling of Plant and Animal Products and on the Detection and Control of Toxin-Producing and/or Pathogenic Bacteria and Fungi Parasites, Mycotoxins, Chemical Residues, and Plant Toxins So As To Assist Regulatory Agencies and the Food Industry in Reducing the Incidence of Foodborne Illnesses.
During FY 2004, ARS will
using new detection and quantitation methodologies, including genomic technologies, and through the study of epidemiology, ecology and host pathogen relationships, intervention strategies, and antibiotic resistance in food producing animals, develop practices, products, and information that will reduce preharvest pathogen and toxic residue contamination of animal-derived food products. Ensure that these technologies can be utilized by regulatory agencies and/or producers to help assure safe food products.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: If food safety pathogens are both antibiotic resistant and also hyperinvasive, they can easily make animals sick and pose an exceedingly dangerous public health threat. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Since rumen protozoa can be a reservoir for pathogens, they could be released during bouts of illness when acidic conditions kill the protozoa. This provides another intervention point (protozoa) for eliminating a reservoir of foodborne pathogens, thus improving the safety of meat and dairy products.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: An ARS laboratory in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The work of these two ARS laboratories with two different chemicals will help provide cattle and swine industries with practical intervention strategies that eliminate foodborne pathogens from food producing animals.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These birds possessing their own genetic bacterial resistance phenomena could provide a very efficient and cost-effective means of minimizing bird colonization by food poisoning bacteria that would greatly enhance poultry food safety.
using new detection and quantitation methodologies, including genomic technologies, and through the study of crop fungal toxin relationships, production practices and expert systems, breeding targets for resistant crops, biocontrol technologies and chemical toxicity, develop practices, products, and information that will reduce preharvest fungal/toxin contamination of plant-derived food products. Ensure that these technologies can be utilized by regulatory agencies and/or producers to help assure safe food products.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: To better understand the genetic pathways required for the formation of mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins and fumonisins, ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These rapid bioassays are helping identify markers and inhibitors related to reproduction/survival, virulence, and toxin formation for the fungi that produce these mycotoxins. Already ARS scientists at
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Approximately 50 tons of Afla-guard® was commercially applied to the 2004 peanut crop in
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: An ARS laboratory in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The assays offer faster, environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional instrumental methods, and ELISAs (enzyme linked immunosorbent serologic assays). They will be useful screening tools to determine mycotoxin contamination. Since mycotoxins are unevenly distributed in any contaminated plant commodity, there is a great need for methodology to determine the contamination of a large volume of potentially contaminated grains. These tests help fulfill that need.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop innovative methods and advanced technology systems that: rapidly and accurately detect, identify, and differentiate the most critical and economically important foodborne contaminants, such as bacterial, viral, and protozoan pathogens; drug and chemical residues; and pathophysiological and processing surface contamination Ensure that the technologies are transferred to the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the Department of Homeland Security; and industry for implementation into Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs, and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) protocols for both large and small producers and processors.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Implementation of the entire system in processing plants will have enormous effects. It will free inspectors to evaluate only contaminated carcasses, enabling FSIS to redeploy thousands of inspectors to other safety tasks. It will also assure the increased safety and quality of the product for the consumer, thus financially increasing profits for the poultry industry.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at various locations took the lead to develop methods and technologies that have regulatory, industry, and research use. A variety of new, improved, and innovative methods were developed to detect, differentiate, type, and quantify numerous foodborne pathogens including: Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and related E. coli, Listeria, Yersinia, C. perfringens, B. cereus, Cryptosporidium, hepatitis A, Noroviruses, Fusarium species, and products of their growth, such as toxins. New sampling methods were also developed which included a method to capture cells from any sample size and type, and enumerate without, or with minimal enrichment, currently the most time limiting step. In collaboration with
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The focus of development was utility and cost-effectiveness for the end user. Technologies were transferred to the end users, mainly FSIS and FDA, who will work with ARS to refine them for (automated) day-to-day use. Development of the microchips will allow industry to incorporate this technology into food packages before shipping. Spoilage could be monitored (by GPS) during transportation, and/or by retailers and consumers through an enzyme-based color change.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Development of these tests will have a significant and immediate impact for FSIS and FDA, generating savings in materials, equipment, and labor costs. For example, in the screening of milk tankers for tetracycline, 6.4 million man hours will be saved. In addition, $1.6 million will be saved from elimination of the solvent. Current commercial toxin tests costing $12 – $20 per sample were reduced to less than $1 per test.
determine the microbial ecology and transmission of human pathogens during animal, plant, and seafood (shellfish) processing, and identify the critical control points to reduce contamination. Develop innovative postharvest intervention strategies for improving the microbial and chemical safety of foods while reducing the impact on quality and consumer acceptance. Ensure that these technologies can be implemented into HACCP and GMP protocols and have efficacy for approval by FSIS and FDA.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research will assist egg processors and regulators providing validation of current commercial practices; providing evidence that a more effective sanitizer could potentially improve egg microbiology; and indicating that sell-by dates could potentially be adjusted allowing for marketers to reach a broader customer base. This latter impact would be particularly beneficial to producers of specialty eggs (i.e., reduced cholesterol, high omega fatty acid, cage-free, pasteurized, etc.) who are now limited to regional marketing due to concern over additional transportation time cutting into sell-by time windows.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The 2002 Farm Bill and the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act allow irradiated ground beef, on a voluntary basis, to be distributed in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in order to prevent foodborne illness caused by bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7. However, there were consumer concerns, based on questions from school district administrators and parents, that irradiation might change the sensory quality of the product. ARS scientists at the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Information from the study was provided to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, which was subsequently transmitted to schools as part of the USDA NSLP educational program on food irradiation. Orders for frozen irradiated ground beef patties have now been placed by school districts.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at various locations including
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The data transmitted to the regulatory agencies and commodity organizations facilitated the identification of critical control points during food production and processing; allowed development of alternative Hazard Analysis Critical Control Plans (HACCP) systems; and led to the design and validation of alternate pathogen intervention strategies. One critical outcome was the need to balance the cost of the intervention strategy, practicality of use by the food processing industry, and the effects on food quality.
undertake genomic and proteomic analyses of pathogens affecting food safety. Develop bioinformatic databases and tools, and predictive user-friendly models to understand pathogen behavior and acquisition of virulence characteristics under various stress conditions. Determine the key risk factors of human pathogens in foods, and evaluate systems interventions for their impact, which will allow regulatory/action agencies to make critical food safety decisions that impact public health and food security.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Bacteria in Campylobacter are the major cause of human bacterial associated gastroenteritis worldwide, responsible for 500 million cases of diarrhea each year. These bacteria can also cause special types of arthritis and the neurological disease Guillain-Barre which can result in paralysis and death. ARS scientists, in association with The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), sequenced, annotated, and compared the genome of four different Campylobacter species. This information has been used to develop and produce comprehensive Campylobacter. This is important in determining the differences among human and animal isolates of Campylobacter, and for studies of gene expression of Campylobacter exposed to relevant nutrients. Microarrays provide perhaps the most complete view of strain differences and responses to environments.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The availability of this new genetic information will make it possible to better address food safety-related problems through the application of powerful genomic and proteomic technologies. For example, the development of better and more rapid detection techniques, the identification of those proteins essential for bacterial pathogen survival and growth in foods, and the development of data for risk assessment, will ultimately be used by FSIS, FDA and other regulatory agencies worldwide to develop strategies to decrease the public health risk and impact.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Listeria monocytogenes remains a significant national and international regulatory, industry, and public health risk, and economic burden. However, not all serotypes and/or strains of the bacteria have the same virulence, and capacity or ability to cause disease. In order to determine which types were critically important, ARS scientists at the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research has provided regulatory agencies and food producers genetic information, prevalence and ecological data, and molecular tools required for the development and implementation of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Plans (HACCP) and regulations that provide maximum protection to consumers while limiting the number and size of product recalls.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The PMP is utilized by numerous national and international regulatory agencies and various food industries to assist in identifying specific food processing steps that can serve as Critical Control Points in HACCP systems. The predictive models are an integral part of microbial risk assessment used to support food safety measures adopted by member countries of the World Trade Organization. Combase is now a global resource for the development of new microbial models, providing the food industry with: an efficient location of specific food microbiology data; access to improved models that consider the complex nature of pathogen-food interactions; and greater transparency to microbial risk assessment.
OBJECTIVE 3.2: Develop and Deliver Science-Based Information and Technologies To Reduce the Number and Severity of Agricultural
During FY 2004, ARS will
further determine partial and full genomic sequences of important animal pathogens (target four priority diseases) to better understand the evolution of new variants, determinants of virulence, host range specificity, and factors that enable evasion from host defense mechanisms.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Avian influenza (AI) is one of the most feared infectious diseases. There are already several occurrences of this virus crossing the species barrier and infecting people, resulting in mortality and high economic losses to the regions experiencing new outbreaks. ARS scientists in collaboration with the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The understanding of mechanisms for increased virulence of AI will improve our understanding of the pathogenesis of the virus and eventually may improve our ability to predict which low pathogenic viruses may become highly pathogenic.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Avian pneumovirus (APV), now classified as an avian metapneumovirus (AMPV), was first isolated from commercial turkeys in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This scientific information suggests that the source of the new APV serotype seen in the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a viral disease clinically indistinguishable from foot-and-mouth disease, one of the most devastating exotic diseases in livestock. Outbreaks of VSV, such as the 2004 outbreak in the southwestern United States, sporadically occurs causing serious economic losses due to quarantine and the cost of associated control measures. The natural cycle of VSV in endemic areas and the factors mediating the emergence of this disease are not understood. VSV outbreaks occur at 8-10 year intervals. VSV Indiana subtypes cocal (VSIV-2) and alagoas (VSIV-3) cause outbreaks in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: ARS has determined the extent of genetic variation among VSV isolates from
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Brucella abortus, the primary Brucella species infecting cattle, also infects other animals, including humans. Brucellosis causes abortions, significant economic losses, and is a public health threat. This disease has been nearly eradicated from cattle in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The discovery of unique sequences in the Brucella abortus genome provides new opportunities for developing rapid molecular diagnostic tests to identify and eradicate the different Brucellosis species that can infect our domestic and wildlife animal species.
further investigate the pathogenesis of important animal pathogens (target two priority disease) to better understand tissue tropism, disease transmission, virulence and the identification of phenotypic markers
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus infections account for up to 15 to 20 percent of the economic losses yearly (nearly $600 million) in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: That PRRS virus is capable of suppressing the innate immune response may explain an important mechanism this virus uses to evade the immune host response, a critical step in the design of effective biotherapeutics and vaccines to control this important swine disease.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: One of the major concerns with Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) is that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has been shown to cross the species barrier to cause a unique TSE in human beings. Although there has not been a similar demonstration that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) could present any risk to human health, the BSE experience has raised many questions about the potential hazard CWD and other TSEs present for transmission to other animal species, especially domesticated livestock and wildlife. ARS scientists have focused on direct experimental challenge studies to assess the relevance of the species barrier as predictive models for future risk assessments. CWD transmission studies with cattle showed that although abnormal prion (PrPres) amplification occurred following direct CWD inoculation into the brain of cattle, none of the affected animals had classic histopathologic lesions of spongiform encephalopathy. Furthermore, only 38 percent of the inoculated cattle demonstrated amplification of PrPres. Although intracerebral inoculation is an unnatural experimental route of exposure, it is the most severe challenge possible. The results of these interspecies transmission studies suggests that cattle are either resistant to CWD or that CWD transmission may require long incubation periods of up to five years.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These studies provide information about the clinical and pathological disease characteristics that can be expected if a TSE crosses the species barrier; thus enabling animal health specialists to recognize such situations should they occur. Additional transmission studies in the natural host will focus on determining the modes of transmission and disease development so that appropriate intervention strategies can be devised that will control the spread of these diseases.
further investigate the epidemiology of important animal diseases (target two priority diseases) to better understand their ecology and life cycle and provide effective disease surveillance to facilitate the development of control strategies and prevent disease transmission.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS was one of the first laboratories to conduct poultry-related research for both the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus and West Nile Virus in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research contributed to our understanding of the host range (identification of susceptible animal species) of two new and emerging diseases, which is vital to our understanding of disease transmission and the epidemiology of these zoonotic diseases (diseases humans acquire from animals).
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium capable of causing serious disease in humans and animals. L. monocytogenes infection of cattle and sheep can lead to disease of the central nervous system and death. Human listeriosis is a potentially fatal foodborne disease often associated with the consumption of contaminated dairy products. ARS scientists, in collaboration with
IMPACT/OUTCOME: In order to understand the epidemiology and epidemic potential of L. monocytogenes isolates, it is important to effectively access their virulence. The development of a validated model to assess virulence is a critical step towards understanding why some strains cause epidemics whereas others do not. The oral inoculation mouse model will be used to evaluate the virulence potential of genes present in epidemic strains and provide valuable insight into understanding the epidemiology of this animal and human health threat, resulting in the application of early control measures at the farm level.
During FY 2004, ARS will continue to identify genetic markers and genes (target one marker or one gene) from food animals that can be used to identify animals with disease resistant traits.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Mastitis is one of the most costly diseases in animal agriculture, with economic losses estimated to be $1 to 2 billion annually in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: ARS scientists have previously established a clear link between diseases affecting dairy cows around parturition and a poorly functioning immune system. Efforts to boost the proficiency of neutrophils could have a major impact in controlling periparturient diseases, resulting in a major benefit to dairy producers by reducing economic losses due to culling of infected cows, discarding of affected milk, and cost of veterinary care. In addition, consumers will benefit from reduction of antibiotic use in the food chain and increased safety of milk through reduced pathogen contamination. The discovery of the neutrophil proteome will enable scientists to conduct experiments to identify genes associated with highly functioning neutrophils and develop genetic tests to accurately and reliably predict which cows are most susceptible to disease.
During FY 2004, ARS will continue to discover and develop novel technologies (target two high priority diseases) to detect and control diseases of food animal pests that impact animal and human health, animal production, and trade.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS played a significant role in providing the Animal and Plant Inspection Services (APHIS) with critical scientific information that enabled the USDA to take swift action when the first Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case was discovered in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Discovering the first BSE-infected cow in the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: An ARS TSE scientist was detailed on special assignment at the request of APHIS and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to serve in a scientific advisory capacity on the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This document is now used by AMS and the International Trade Policy group of the Foreign Agricultural Service in
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Use of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals in the dairy industry is one of the greatest threats to food safety. ARS scientists demonstrated that a biotherapeutic (Poly-X) to prevent mastitis in dairy cows during the dry period was at least as effective as antibiotics. At dry off, mammary quarters of 40 cows were injected with antibiotics and 40 cows were injected with Poly-X. At the time of calving, cows treated with Poly-X had less mastitis than cows treated with antibiotics. A patent application has been filed. Dairymen and organic farmers will have available a non-antibiotic compound for use during the dry period for dairy cows.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The dairy industry needs new tools to overcome the problems associated with the use of antibiotics. Surveys indicate that at least 5 percent of bulk milk shipments and 30 percent of milk sold to consumers contains detectable amounts of antibiotics and drugs. This presents a potential human health hazard. Also, the antibiotics approved for treating mastitis are increasingly ineffective, largely due to the appearance of resistant strains. An effective “non-antibiotic” biotherapeutics to prevent mastitis during the dry period of dairy cows provides a new tool to combat this important disease without relying on traditional drug use and their potential adverse effects on the health of consumers.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The research demonstrates the potential value of using, as an alternative to chicken inoculations, chicken embryos as a model system for evaluating NDV virus virulence. As a result of ARS’ research, information is provided more quickly on the virulence potential of new NDV isolates, and the response time for implementing control measures is decreased.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Poult Enteritis Mortality Syndrome (PEMS) is a highly infectious disease of young turkeys. PEMS and similar disease conditions have been reported in most regions where turkeys are commercially produced, including the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Previously, no rapid or specific diagnostic tools were available for the detection of the viral agents associated with PEMS. The development of a highly specific and sensitive RRT-PCR assay will enable scientists to decipher the role turkey astrovirus, turkey coronavirus, and turkey reovirus play in causing PEMS and may lead to the modification of management practices to minimize the impact of this disease.
During FY 2004, ARS will continue to identify and characterize genes of insect resistance in crop plants, closely related non-crop species, and other species, to enhance opportunities for developing host plant resistance, and to incorporate such genes into commercially acceptable varieties.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Sustainable sugarcane production in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These releases are significant since sugarcane in
During FY 2004, ARS will
continue to develop fundamental knowledge about insect biology and ecology that provides the foundation for strategies to exclude, detect, and mitigate pest infestations.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM) can destroy more than 200 plant species by injecting them with toxic saliva while sucking their sap. The exotic insect pest recently invaded
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Officials with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are using the new pheromone as a sex lure to survey the degree of mealybug pest infestations in
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Fundamental research on fungal pathogens, including how these pathogens survive and successfully infect their insect hosts in field and greenhouse environments, will foster the development of safe, effective alternatives to chemical insecticides. Scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These results indicate the strong potential for using these agents as the key components of an integrated biocontrol program for Colorado potato beetle management.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Enticing new lures developed by ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The molasses-derived lure is now commercially available for garden use as the product SMARTrap. The floral-based lures are in their second year of field tests. So far, use of the floral lures in a “killing station” reduced the number of alfalfa loopers by 75 percent.
continue to develop fundamental knowledge about weed biology and ecology that provides the foundation for strategies to exclude, detect, and mitigate weed infestations.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The winter wheat-fallow production system in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: During the drought year of 2002-2003, this system was used. It was more competitive against weeds, improved grain quality, and yielded 20 percent more compared to winter wheat. Adoption of this alternative conservation cropping system would reduce the impact of weeds and erosion susceptibility, and increase air quality.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Intercrossing between rice and ecotypes of weedy red rice, a dominant weed in the southern
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These analyses may allow the rice industry to identify (or rule out) the parental lines that are responsible for development of an unwanted population of herbicide-resistant rice x red rice hybrids, a key management consideration in herbicide esistant rice systems.
continue to develop fundamental knowledge about plant disease biology and ecology that provides the foundation for strategies to exclude, detect, and mitigate pest infestations.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS has developed rapid, reliable pathogen detection and identification procedures for accurate and timely disease diagnosis for soybean rust and other high profile pathogens on the USDA Select Agent List.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The detection assay was used by regulatory officials to accurately determine and identify a new outbreak of soybean rust in the southern
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS isolated pathogenic fungi from pears shipped from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research protected the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A unique and highly virulent strain of Fusarium oxysporum was discovered in cottonseed imported from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Identification of the highly virulent isolate from
During FY 2004, ARS will
continue to develop and demonstrate technologies for excluding, detecting, and mitigating native and invasive insect pests, including integrated pest management (IPM) and areawide approaches, and deliver IPM components and systems to ARS customers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The tarnished plant bug damages a large number of crops throughout the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These findings should increase confidence in the safety of classical biological control methods used against pest insects.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Many insect pests in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This accomplishment is important because this experimental portal (individual and grouped) and analysis suggests an effective way to compare pathogen virulence among social insects. Also, scientists in
continue to develop and demonstrate technologies, including risk analysis, for excluding, detecting, and mitigating native and invasive weed pests, including IPM and areawide approaches, and deliver IPM components and systems to ARS customers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Invasive saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) shrubs from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This research is important as it interfaces with ongoing investigations of biological control, and provides revegetation strategies for land managers that are interested in removing and replacing saltcedar. It also assists in an evaluation of the impact of the program on an endangered bird.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The invasive tree, Melaleuca quinquenervia, was introduced to
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The combination of the weevil and psyllid has been so successful that melaleuca is no longer threatening many of the natural areas in which it was dominant.
continue to develop and demonstrate technologies for excluding, detecting, and mitigating native and invasive plant disease pests, including IPM and areawide approaches, and deliver IPM components and systems to ARS customers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS developed the first genetic map for the Fusarium head blight pathogen, the major fungal pathogen of wheat that produces several mycotoxins harmful to humans.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The map has been used in genetic diversity studies, and to validate and align the genomic sequence of the pathogen.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS examined genetic variation in over 300 strains of Phytophthora infestans, causal agent of potato late blight. ARS was able to demonstrate greater levels of genotypic diversity and that population structures differed from one location to another.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The major impact of understanding pathogen diversity will be to ensure that cultivars resistant to late blight have nonspecific resistance not limited to virulence genes in the current local populations of the pathogens.
GOAL 4: IMPROVE THE NATION’S NUTRITION AND HEALTH
Analysis of Results: This goal is the focus of ARS’ research related to human nutrition and health. Under Goal 4, 6 Indicators are aligned under 3 Performance Measures. As the National Programs evolve, the Agency will report more accomplishments achieved by collaborative research at multiple locations involving more than one scientific discipline. Thus, we anticipate reporting fewer accomplishments, but accomplishments that are broader in scope that make greater contributions to American agriculture. While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in these Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2004. Nineteen significant accomplishments are reported below.
OBJECTIVE 4.1: Promote Healthier Individual Food Choices and Lifestyles and Prevent Obesity; Improve Human Health by Better Understanding the Nutrient Requirements of Individuals and the Nutritional Value of Foods; Determine Food Consumption Patterns of Americans.
During FY 2004, ARS will
identify dietary and lifestyle intervention strategies to prevent obesity and promote healthy food choices and eating behaviors.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers compared weight loss efficacy of four popular diets – Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, and Ornish – in 160 overweight and obese adults for 12 months.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The research indicates there are no special metabolic differences from high protein, low fat, or other composition diets. The results emphasize that adherence to a diet is the most important factor in weight loss, not the amount of fat, protein, or carbohydrate.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists showed that consumption of a diet containing whole grains, in contrast to one containing refined cereals and grains, elevates satiety and shifts metabolism from using dietary fats to using body fat for energy needs.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The findings provide new science-based information for developing food-based strategies for preventing unhealthy weight gain in adults.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research demonstrated that men regulate weight primarily through physical activity while women regulate weight primarily by changing their diet.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Based on the research, public health policy for maintaining a healthy body needs to take into account gender differences in adults.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers showed that poor rural residents of the Lower Mississippi Delta eat less protein, fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals, but the same calories as the rest of the population and have a higher incidence of obesity and chronic health problems.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These data show that both diet and physical activity differences are likely to account for obesity and its related complications.
conduct research that enhances the nutritive value of the food supply.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Researchers demonstrated in a long-term human feeding study that whole grain barley, rich in soluble fiber, can lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce diastolic blood pressure in adults.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The barley industry has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration for a health claim based upon ARS’ research.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Researchers found that strains of beneficial bacteria from yogurt colonize the intestine of pigs and activate their immune system. This had the effect of reducing an allergic reaction to an experimental parasitic infection.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The findings suggest that healthful bacteria can help prevent infections by disease-causing organisms. This may benefit sales of fermented dairy products that contain cultures of these bacteria.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists established a dose of cinnamon fed to humans that improves blood glucose and lipids in volunteers with type 2 diabetes.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Proof of concept establishes that isolation and synthesis of the active factor in cinnamon could be used to treat diabetes. A CRADA partner has been identified and is subsidizing this research. If commercialized, the financial impact is substantial since 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and the annual economic burden is more than $132 billion.
During FY 2004, ARS will
determine the functions, bioavailability, interactions, and requirements for known, emerging, and new classes of nutrients across the life cycle.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists showed that vitamin E supplements given to elderly nursing home residents for one year significantly reduced the incidence of upper respiratory infections.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Since morbidity and mortality are greatly increased in the elderly following occurrence of common colds, this study has the potential to reduce the severity of illness and attendant medical costs which are often borne by Federal programs for this group.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers determined the rate of utilization in humans of two carotenoids, lutein and beta-carotene, by feeding isotopically labeled kale. Lutein was much more effectively used than beta-carotene. Bioavailability of carotenoids was also studied using juice from purple carrots developed by ARS.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These studies inform scientists about how effectively different pigmented carotenoids are used by the human body. It also is important for understanding the bioavailability of plant components and whether increasing these components will make crops nutritionally superior.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers found that adding meat to the diet favorably influenced blood indicators of bone growth and turnover. Further, amounts of meat commonly consumed by the American population did not increase urinary calcium excretion.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Older, less well controlled studies had indicated the opposite and meat consumption was sometimes avoided by women because of believed adverse effects on bone health. This study should allay those concerns and benefit sales of meat.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists demonstrated that chronic high dietary copper levels can alter measures of immunity and oxidative stress.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: New knowledge on the potential health effects of long-term high copper consumption is required in order to refine the newly established upper tolerable level for dietary copper. This information will be used to ensure that the level of copper provided in foods and supplements is safe for the American public.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers showed that children eating a low calcium diet can only partially adapt to the lower amount by increasing the proportion of dietary calcium absorbed from the intestine.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Many children are not consuming sufficient dietary calcium and this increases risk of osteoporosis and fractures in later life. This research contributed to the recommendation in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to consume daily 2 to 3 servings of milk, milk products, or other calcium-rich foods.
develop new methods, conduct food composition analyses, and compile databases for known, emerging, and new classes of nutrients across the life cycle.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers determined that the folic acid content of fortified cereal grain containing foods is substantially higher than required by law.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The Food and Drug Administration mandated fortification of refined cereal grains in 1998 to prevent neural tube defects in the babies of mothers not receiving sufficient dietary folic acid during pregnancy. However, the levels actually in the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: AS scientists developed and released special interest databases for fluoride, choline, and proanthocyanidins which are not part of the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Information in these databases is used by industry for fortification purposes (fluoride) or by nutritionists to recommend healthy eating patterns.
ACCOMPLISHMENT: Scientists initiated development of a new procedure to determine six B vitamins in foods and dietary supplements. They evaluated a new method for the analysis of amino acids in foods containing sulfur and selenium. They also developed a new analytical method to separate different forms of iron in meat.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These improvements in food analysis will allow more accurate information to be collected for dietary surveys and help food processors in knowing the nutrient content of their products.
During FY 2004, ARS will
survey and analyze national food consumption patterns of Americans.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS released the “What We Eat in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This information is critical to understanding the role diet plays in promoting health and reducing obesity and disease throughout life. It is widely used by government agencies, universities, and the food industry for a variety of purposes, such as, establishing dietary recommendations, setting food assistance program policies, and determining if the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers found that personality characteristics are associated with under-reporting food intake on dietary recall, the key tool used to assess food and nutrient intake in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This kind of information helps determine who is likely to misreport dietary intake information. Such information is essential to improving the accuracy of national dietary survey methodology.
develop and test new dietary assessment methods and nutritional status markers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A longitudinal study of 2,000 older adults with 12.5 years follow-up was completed. The study found blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine were a strong, independent predictor of bone fracture in addition to being associated with heart disease.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Levels of homocysteine are primarily affected by B vitamin status and reflect their intake and utilization. This new information provides the basis for developing food-based strategies to prevent bone fractures in older adults.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) are the most cost-effective means for determining dietary intake in studies with large numbers of subjects. New FFQ’s were developed for use in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These new assessment methods will help improve the accuracy and reproducibility of nutrition research studies. They point to the need for different dietary instruments for specific population groups, whether geographic or ethnic.
GOAL 5: PROTECT AND ENHANCE THE NATION’S NATURAL RESOURCE BASE AND ENVIRONMENT
Analysis of Results: This goal focuses on a wide range of environmental issues related to agriculture. Under Goal 5, 14 Indicators are aligned under 7 Performance Measures. As the National Programs evolve, the Agency will report more accomplishments achieved by collaborative research at multiple locations involving more than one scientific discipline. Thus, we anticipate reporting fewer accomplishments, but accomplishments that are broader in scope that make greater contributions to American agriculture. While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in these Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2004. Fifty significant accomplishments are reported below.
OBJECTIVE 5.1: Provide Science-Based Knowledge and Education To Improve the Management of
During FY 2004, ARS will
provide increased understanding of genetic resources, genomics, and molecular processes of grasses, legumes, and other herbaceous plants that affect establishment, persistence, production and use so improved germplasm and cultivars can be released for pasture, harvested forages, turf, biofuels, rangeland restoration, and conservation.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS plant breeders at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: To remain economically competitive, producers must maintain production with fewer inputs while adapting more effectively to climatic extremes. Big Bluestem is a native prairie grass well adapted to the climate and pests of the region. Improving its productivity gives producers more options for economic viability while creating more favorable conditions for wildlife.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Bluebunch Wheatgrass is a premier native grass widely used for revegetation across the Western States. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Land managers are increasingly required to conserve biodiversity within a species to ensure sufficient genetic variability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. The
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Forage and grain legume producers sustain significant losses from diseases. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Breeding resistant cultivars is an important way to reduce these losses without having to use expensive pesticides. But breeding projects traditionally require long, expensive greenhouse evaluations to identify and evaluate disease-resistance plant materials suitable for crosses. This new assay will greatly shorten the time and costs to breeders in selecting breeding germplasm with desirable traits and evaluating the new cultivars.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Stem rust is the most damaging disease in grass seed production in the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Alfalfa and some grasses have significant protein loss during the ensiling process. This results in economic losses because additional protein supplementation for the livestock can be required. It also results in adverse environmental impacts because nitrogen compounds are released into the environment instead of being retained in the forage. Commercializing alfalfa with the PPO gene will increase economic and environmental sustainability.
provide forage and pasture management technologies and strategies that reduce inputs while improving livestock performance and sustaining the environment.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The traditional grazing system in the southern
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Pasturelands were assumed to be a major source of phosphorus pollution in southern
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS researchers at Beaver, West
They found that using the recently introduced Kiko meat goat as the male sire in crosses with Spanish and Myotonic breeds produced consistently small, lean carcass more effectively than the traditionally used Boer breeds. They also found that the offspring finished most efficiently when supplemented with daily feed at a rate between 2 and 3 percent of body weight.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: One option for increasing profitability on small farms is efficiently serving niche markets such as the one for meat goats on the East coast. These research results help producers select the best breeding stock and feeding supplementation rates to improve profitability.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Livestock grazers in the Northeast face periods when environmental stresses lead to forage deficits that result in lower livestock production. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Maintaining profitability requires that the forage deficit periods be reduced without using fertilizers, herbicides, and other expensive inputs. Establishing pastures with a mix of plants with different characteristics helps to maintain production without additional use of expensive inputs that often have adverse environmental impacts.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Producing liquid fuels from forage biomass offers opportunities to increase national energy independence, diversify rural economies, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This information will help public and private managers develop more accurate estimates of potential production at the farm and processing plant, and nationally so investment options can be more effectively evaluated.
provide rangeland management technologies and strategies that reduce inputs while improving livestock performance and sustaining the environment including reducing the risks of wildfires, invasive weeds and other threats by stabilizing, restoring, and monitoring degraded rangeland in an affordable and sustainable manner.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The lack of basic ecological information about the sagebrush steppe limits developing and assessing management guidelines for integrating livestock grazing and wildlife habitat conservation for species like the sage grouse. ARS scientists at Burns,
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Over estimating the potential of land areas to support a wildlife species can result in poor management and regulatory decisions. Increasing the amount of science-based information available to managers will result in more effective decisions on livestock and wildlife management. This includes more accurately identifying ecological sites where livestock grazing was thought to be adversely affecting wildlife numbers, but in fact, is not.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Because there are hundreds of millions of acres of rangelands, the cost of monitoring and assessing the condition of these ecologically diverse lands is a major concern. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Applications of these findings are expected to result in savings of as much as 25 percent in NRCS rangeland field data collection.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is a serious invasive weed that fuels wildfires and degrades rangeland ecosystems. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Knowledge that increased carbon dioxide levels increase cheatgrass growth provides land managers with additional insights into the complex mix of factors contributing to the spread of invasive weeds and potential limits on restoring ecological sites, particularly to pre-industrial conditions. Screening out excessively simplistic solutions will save managers time and resources.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Mountain big sagebrush canopies can become too dense and suppress other vegetation important to wildlife and livestock. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Using livestock to manage vegetative cover to achieve environmental objectives is an ideal management option because it provides an economic resource (livestock) while improving the environment. However, these results indicate that using grazing to target a specific plant species should to be carefully monitored to ensure there are no unexpected impacts on other ecosystem values.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at Miles City, Montana, collected information on forage growth over many growing seasons with a variety of climatic conditions including droughts. They found in the northern
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Using this information, ranchers can determine if they are entering a period of drought and low forage production early in the summer and adjust their livestock grazing plans at that time instead of keeping animals through the summer, hoping for summer rain, and then finding themselves in a forage crisis.
OBJECTIVE 5.2: Provide Science-Based Knowledge and Education To Improve Quality and Management of Soil, Air, and Water Resources.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop and demonstrate the use of new irrigation and drainage management practices that improve water conservation and water quality.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The application of fertilizer in irrigation water (fertigation) can be used efficiently for all irrigation methods. Fertigation brings both nutrients and water to plants and at the same time saves money by combining two tasks into an efficient system. ARS scientists at three locations have found different ways to improve the application of fertilizer and at the same time apply water more efficiently for the three irrigation methods. Researchers from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Current estimates are that various fertigation techniques will be used on 50 percent of the irrigated lands in the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Phosphorus (P) transport with surface runoff can cause eutrophication (an increase in algae and other plants) in receiving water bodies. Phosphorus losses from furrow and simulated sprinkler irrigation were measured in field and laboratory tests at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Controlling soil erosion is essential for reducing phosphorus losses from irrigated land, but additional economically viable practices are needed to reduce soluble phosphorus losses from irrigated land.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Although drip irrigation systems have been used to effectively and practically apply nutrients and a few pesticides, volatile soil fumigants have not been applied with irrigation water. With the phase-out of methyl bromide, there is a need to develop alternative soil fumigants. Registration of fumigants requires application methods that minimize worker and neighborhood exposure from these toxic substances. ARS developed and refined methods to apply volatile fumigants through drip irrigation systems. The closed application systems minimize worker exposure; and application in water through subsurface drip to plastic covered beds reduces air emissions and neighborhood exposure. ARS developed application equipment and procedures; tested chemicals, formulations and mixing techniques; verified fumigant distribution in the soil profile; quantified efficacy of the treatments; and demonstrated the technique in over 25 grower field trials. In addition, ARS researchers evaluated 39 strawberry drip irrigation systems, found that about half of the systems needed improvement, and presented six workshops on methods to improve strawberry irrigation uniformity. Three drip-applied fumigants have been registered for use in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Based on ARS’ research, the current estimate is that 25 percent of the Nation's commercial strawberries, with a value of $300 million, were drip fumigated in 2004. Over the next few years, the strawberry acreage that is fumigated through drip irrigation systems could easily double and provide a savings to the grower of over $15 million dollars compared to more expensive alternatives. The drip technique is also being used to fumigate melons, peppers, and tomatoes, and is being tested for orchards, vineyards, and nursery crops.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Water treatment facility residues help reduce water pollution. ARS scientists in Florence, South Carolina, and University Park, Pennsylvania, have found that residue from water treatment processes, often discarded as waste and placed in landfills, may make a great soil amendment for preventing loss of phosphorus (P) in runoff from agricultural fields. ARS scientists have found an alum-based water treatment residual that can increase the soil's capacity to bond phosphorus, a vital plant nutrient. The results should benefit States along the Nation's mid-to-southern-Atlantic seaboard, where sandy soils generally take up and hold less P than finer-textured soils. In laboratory tests with sandy soil, the treatment increased P-binding potential four- to five-fold over that of untreated soil.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: If successful, the use for waste from water-treatment processing not only could get rid of the waste, but would also hold P on the land until a crop uses it. Economic benefits to the
develop models and decision support systems that quantify the economic and environmental impact of conservation practices at field, farm, and watershed scale.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: There is increasing concern regarding the impact of water-borne pathogens on human health. Enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 is a serious health threat, particularly in children. At present, the risk from water-borne transmission of E. coli O157:H7 cannot be estimated because there are no reliable methods for the detection and enumeration of small numbers of these organisms in water samples. ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), entitled “Development of Integrated Waveguide Biosensor for Pathogen and Toxin Detection in Water,” was initiated with Creatv MicroTech. Hopefully it will be available soon to the public as a fast and economical means of testing for pathogens in public drinking water supplies.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The structures reduce sediment transport, triggering natural deposition to heal channels enlarged by years of erosion. Also, the structures cost about $25 per foot of treated bank, or 20 to 50 percent of the cost of recent stone bank stabilization projects in the region.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: In response to mounting water quality concerns, many States have developed guidelines for land application of phosphorus (P) based on the potential for P loss in agricultural runoff. These actions have been spurred, in part, by a Federal initiative in which the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA created a joint strategy to implement Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) on Animal Feeding Operations by 2008, which considers both agronomic and environmental impacts of applied P. To address this need, ARS led the development and refinement of a P Index to rank the vulnerability of fields to P loss in runoff and identify those at greatest risk for loss. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has adopted the use of the P index in 47 States as the basis for development of CMNPs, and over 2000 NRCS field agents and nutrient management consultants across the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Widespread adoption and use of the P Index is resulting in the first significant reduction in the threat to water quality from non-point sources of P. Economic benefits of using this approach are estimated at $204 to $355 million and include increased recreational use of waters, better shellfish harvest, fewer fish kills, lower drinking water treatment costs, and reduced loss of livestock to disease.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Soil salinization is a major problem, causing decreased crop production and water quality problems, in irrigated lands of arid and semiarid regions of the world including the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The primary end users of this technology include technical specialists from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Natural Resource Conservation Service along with water district personnel throughout the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists from the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The Umatilla River TMDL is one of the first Oregon TMDLs completed and approved by EPA for implementation. The effort was a multi-agency effort involving private concerns, local municipalities, county, state, tribal, and Federal agencies and is now considered the standard for TMDL development within
provide technical support to NRCS and the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The NWS has determined that the ARS-derived technique has greatly improved the accuracy and precision of rainfall estimation and has therefore reprogrammed its radar system in 2004.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The U.S. Army was looking for a way to determine real-time accurate estimates of surface soil moisture to help it plan where and when they can drive vehicles without getting stuck in the mud. The U.S. Army turned to ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This new procedure was found to be superior to the more complex and expensive model currently used by the U.S. Army because it can account for the high rocks content commonly found in desert soils.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: SWAT, which stands for Soil and Water Assessment Tool, is being used worldwide to assess environmental benefits. It was developed over the past 30 years by a team of ARS researchers at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The newest version of SWAT has been distributed to hundreds of scientists and engineers at universities, government agencies, and consulting firms throughout the world.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Natural Resources Conservation, and
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Once enhanced soil moisture predictions and measurements are part of daily weather forecasts, it should help predict when rainstorms will occur; provide better assessments of drought stricken areas; provide needed information for assisting in alerting the public to potential floods; and help farmers determine when to plant, fertilize, and harvest crops with more precision and accuracy than has every been available before.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop management practices and decision tools which make more efficient use of plant nutrients from fertilizers and other sources while protecting the environment.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Elevated levels of nitrate nitrogen are found in ground water in areas where vegetables are grown in rotation with corn, alfalfa, soybeans, sorghum and wheat. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This information can be used by crop consultants, extension agents, and Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel as they make fertilizer recommendations to producers. Lower nitrogen fertilizer application rates will result in improved water quality and greater profits for producers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Excessive application of ammonia fertilizer can be attributed in part to farmers compensating for poor application uniformity of current equipment. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Efficiency of anhydrous application to agricultural lands has been advanced. This innovative product received an award from the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
develop management practices and decision tools which improve soil conditions and crop growth.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Compacted soil layers limit yield and reduce overall productivity of soils. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Continuous measurement of soil compaction will allow tillage to be adjusted to target depths of soil compaction rather than setting a uniform depth of tillage that may be either too deep, wasting energy, or too shallow, ineffectively tilling the soil. A patent has been received and a partnership with industry developed to produce equipment that will enable farmers to make continuous tillage depth adjustment-based on depth to the compacted layer.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Rangeland assessments and monitoring based solely on vegetation indicators often fail to detect degradation until it is too late for management intervention. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These soil quality indicators enable rangeland managers to generate more useful information on the status and changes of both private and public rangeland. The soil stability kit is the only quantitative soil quality protocol used in the Natural Resources Conservation Service-Natural Resources Inventory. It has been adapted as a standard monitoring tool by groups within Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, and the Nature Conservancy.
During FY 2004, ARS will develop methods to reduce emissions of harmful gases from crop production systems and postharvest/quarantine treatments.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in Gainesville, Florida, in collaboration with University of Florida scientists, studied the dispersion patterns and emissions of the methyl bromide alternative pre-plant soil fumigants: 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), chloropicrin, and methyl isothiocyanate (MITC), the active breakdown product of metam sodium. These were applied to a
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These findings indicate that the use of VIF film row covers could increase the efficacy of fumigants and might decrease the required amount of material to be applied, while decreasing the volatilization to the atmosphere. This would decrease the hazard to adjacent human habitations and perhaps decrease the set-back requirements of the treated field borders. Shank injection appeared to be better than either rototilled incorporation or drip-tube application in
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: In a 50-acre trial that was conducted four consecutive years in the same field, yields in the fourth year under the alternative were higher than in adjacent fields fumigated with methyl bromide. The incidence of soilborne diseases was lower than in adjacent fields fumigated with methyl bromide.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Apple replant disease is a significant factor limiting production and profitability of orchards rejuvenated with new trees. Studies were conducted by ARS scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Rapeseed, but not soybean, seed meal amendment suppressed infection of apple roots by this fungal pathogen, and disease control was associated with an increase in populations of Streptomyces spp. bacteria naturally resident to orchard soils, and specifically those Streptomyces spp. that possess the capacity to produce nitric oxide, a chemical known to induce plant defense responses. These studies provide further evidence that sustainable, environmentally friendly systems can reduce apple replant disease.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists in Parlier, California, in collaboration with the University of California tested several methyl bromide alternatives in replanted peach and plum orchards and vineyards in a series of field trials located at the SJVASC research station and in growers' fields in Dinuba, California.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Emulsified formulations of alternative fumigants 1,3 dichloropropene (1,3-D) and chloropicrin applied through subsurface drip irrigation systems produced tree growth and yields equal to that treated with methyl bromide. Control of plant parasitic nematodes in vineyard replant plots treated with drip-applied 1,3-D or shank-injected iodomethane was comparable to control achieved by methyl bromide after six growing seasons.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Strategies to replace methyl bromide use for suppression of nematodes and other soilborne plant pathogens are needed for vegetable growers. In a three year field study scientists in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Biologically-based production systems are an economically feasible alternative to production systems reliant on methyl bromide fumigation, are friendlier to the environment, and contribute significantly to soil fertility.
develop methods and control technologies which reduce particulate matter emissions from crop and animal production systems.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: A number of factors control ammonia emissions from wasteful lagoons. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The results suggest that ammonia emissions from lagoons can be managed by reducing turbulence and controlling water temperature. Two statistical ammonia emissions models have been developed that are limited in scope, but accurate in the geographic area where they were developed.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Elevated ammonia levels in high rise laying hen houses can threaten bird and worker health, and reduce egg production. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The system improved worker safety and bird health. Egg production was increased 3.3 percent and feed conversion was improved, resulting in a net return of $426 per house per week.
During FY 2004, ARS will
assess the potential risks and benefits to agricultural systems that may arise from global change, and develop agricultural management practices and decision support strategies that enable producers to take advantage of beneficial effects and mitigate adverse impacts.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at several locations have found increased risks to rangeland systems arising from increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. At
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Results of many studies have shown that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere can stimulate plant growth, which may be beneficial for crop production in some cases. However, results of recent ARS studies show that there are some risks as well. Changes in plant communities and the composition of plant tissues may have economic impacts via frequency and intensity of fires or by reducing the value of forage in grazing lands. Such impacts could require modifying current range management practices, such as fire management and animal stocking rates.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists have demonstrated that continued global warming can be detrimental to the production of a variety of crops. At
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Although studies have shown that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can benefit some crop plants because they capture more carbon from the air, recent experiments by ARS scientists show that environmental changes accompanying carbon dioxide increases have detrimental effects that offset the benefits. Increasing carbon dioxide causes global warming, and the increased temperatures adversely impact yields. Further increases in both carbon dioxide concentration and temperature are expected during the 21st century, so management options such as choosing stress-tolerant crop varieties must be considered, along with other techniques, to sustain yields.
identify the processes that control the rate at which agricultural systems release and absorb greenhouse gases, and develop agricultural management practices that contribute to reductions in the Nation’s net greenhouse gas emissions.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Sequestering carbon from the atmosphere into soil offsets emissions of greenhouse gases implicated in global climate change. Results of these studies show that certain management practices for forage and livestock can maintain a productive agricultural system even while enhancing the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, contributing to improvements in environmental quality and potentially developing carbon credits that may be traded to enhance farm income.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The goal for carbon sequestration in dryland agricultural soils is to return the soils to pre-management levels of organic matter. In contrast, carbon sequestration may exceed native amounts in properly managed arid zone soils. ARS researchers in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Results show that choosing the right combination of management options can benefit not just yield and soil productivity in arid production areas, but also raise carbon sequestration to new levels, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and slows global climate change. Enhanced soil carbon may become an increasingly tradable commodity.
During FY 2004, ARS will
develop management practices and treatment technologies which reduce nutrient losses from animal manure to the environment.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Beef cattle in feedlots are typically fed diets that contain a constant concentration of protein. ARS scientists from Bushland, Texas, found oscillating dietary crude protein concentrations between moderately deficient (10 percent of dry water) and adequate (14 percent of dry water) at 48 hour intervals resulted in nitrogen retention by the animal and a 5 percent improvement in the average daily gain by finishing cattle
IMPACT/OUTCOME: This feeding system has the potential to decrease the quantity of nitrogen fed by 5 to 15 percent, resulting in decreased feedlot nitrogen losses through runoff and volatilization.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Soluble phosphorus in manure can impact water quality through runoff and leaching. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The results have been transferred to the Zero Waste Alliance and are being recommended as a phosphorus recovery strategy for dairies in the
develop management practices and treatment technologies which reduce gaseous and particulate matter emissions from animal production operations.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions from manure storage systems are considered environmental and potential health problems. ARS scientists from
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Lagoon covers can provide a cost-effective method for reducing emissions from lagoon systems and benefit producers who need to reduce emission while operating their current manure storage systems.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: There is insufficient paucity of
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These results will be useful to the Natural Resources Conservation Service and private consultants as they develop nutrient management plans. Results from these studies have contributed to the development of an ammonia volatilization decision support system that is being used to update ammonia loss estimates in
During FY 2004, ARS will develop new production practices and decision support tools that increase profitability and improve environmental quality.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Due to excessive cultivation and wind erosion in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, soil organic matter has decreased from 4 percent at the time of settlement to as low as 0.3 percent today. To improve soil productivity, ARS Scientists at the Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center,
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These conservation practices protected the soil from wind erosion. Farmers have accepted these practices because production costs have been reduced, giving them greater profits. An added benefit of this research was the conservation tillage systems were more productive during drought periods. Because of these multiple benefits, this integrated system has been adopted on more than 100,000 acres in the
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Research by scientists at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center,
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Using the ARS Integrated Farm System Model, researchers predicted
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists at the Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit, Corvallis, Oregon, are not only determining the benefits of direct seeding and vegetative buffers to reduce agricultural nutrient and sediment movement from fields to waterways, but also how agricultural drainages and nearby trees can benefit wildlife. Working with partners from Oregon State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, it was shown that native fish use seasonal streams near grass seed fields during the winter. Nutrient and sediment concentrations in these south
GOAL 6: MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE 0.1: ENSURING THE QUALITY, RELEVANCE, AND PERFORMANCE OF ARS RESEARCH (COVERS ALL RESEARCH OBJECTIVES)
OBJECTIVE 6.0: Provide Mechanisms To Ensure the Relevance, Quality, and Performance of the ARS Research Program.
During FY 2004, ARS will track and report for the number of National Program Workshops, meetings, other workshops, and conferences that were designed, in whole or in part, to review the research focus of each National Program or to establish the research focus for the next 5-year program cycle.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS conducted or participated in eleven National Program Workshops or other major meetings, workshops, or conferences that helped to confirm, refine, or direct the research focus of a specific National Program or Programs.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: ARS’ continuing interaction with its customers, stakeholders, and partners ensures the relevancy of the Agency’s research in meeting the needs of American agriculture. Meetings during the 5-year program cycle either confirm the direction of the research or allow the Agency to refine the direction. National Program Workshops with customers, stakeholders, and partners, at the beginning of the 5-year cycle, help ARS establish that National Program’s research agenda. These processes help enable ARS to fulfill its mission statement to: “conduct research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to ensure high quality, safe food, and other agricultural products, assess the nutritional needs of Americans, sustain a competitive agricultural economy, enhance the natural resource base and the environment, and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.”
During FY 2004, ARS will report summary information on the number and percentage of projects reviewed for prospective quality, and the number in each Office of Scientific Quality Review (OSQR) category; summary data from the Research Position Evaluation System (RPES) peer reviews of Agency scientists; and the number of on-site expert reviews (location reviews) conducted to ensure the ongoing quality and performance of the research program.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: OSQR conducted prospective peer reviews on 240 Project Plans with the follow results:
No Revision 25 10.42%
Minor Revision 98 40.83%
Moderate Revision 61 25.42%
Subtotal 184 76.67%
Major Revision 44 18.33%
Not Feasible 12 5.00%
Subtotal 56 23.33%
IMPACT/OUTCOME: ARS’ OSQR external independent peer review process has strengthened the overall ARS research program. ARS, as part of its PART analysis, has set a goal of gradually increasing the number of projects that receive a rating of No Revision, Minor Revision, or Moderate Revision to 80 percent by 2010.
During FY 2004, ARS will report summary information that measures specific activities that indicate, to some extent, how well the overall ARS research program is performing. These activities include the number of papers published, number of CRADAs executed, number of patents issued, number of licenses granted, and the number of new plant varieties and breeding lines released. Beginning in FY 2004, ARS asked each research leader to assess his/her project’s progress against the milestones in their Project Plan, and indicate whether the each milestone was fully met, substantially met, or not met. An explanation of why a milestone was not met was also requested.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS scientists published 3,587 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Scientific publications are one of the principal mechanisms for transferring research products/findings to potential users of the information. This is especially true of research knowledge generated by basic or fundamental research where the principal customers are other scientists who carry the work forward through applied and developmental research.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS established 44 new CRADAs, received 50 new patents, and granted 29 new licenses.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These formal mechanisms enable ARS to more promptly and more effectively transfer new or improved research derived technologies to entities that can use the information to produce new or improved goods and services that benefit American agriculture and the economy.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS released 57 new plant varieties and breeding lines.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: ARS develops and releases new and improved plant varieties and breeding lines that have a wide range of desirable characteristics, such as greater productivity, resistance to diseases and/or pests, or greater tolerance to stresses, such as drought, salinity, etc. These releases enable public and private sector scientists and breeders to develop new plants and market them to producers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS identified a total of 5,407 milestones across its 1,000+ research projects. Of these, 3,169 milestones were fully met (59 percent) and 1,419 were substantially met (26 percent) for a total of 4,588 (85 percent) being fully or substantially met. Eight hundred and nineteen milestones were not met (15 percent). The principle reasons why a milestone was not met were: a vacancy in the lead scientist position (through retirement, death, or delays in recruitment), redirection of the work into areas of higher national priority, failure of a collaborator to provide material in a timely manner, a research methodology did not perform as expected, aberrant weather conditions prevented the research from moving forward (e.g., continuing drought on Western rangeland), and changes in experimental design. It should be noted that first year data is often open to question. The Agency expects to refine the guidance governing this data before collecting FY 2005 data.
MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE 1: PROVIDE AGRICULTURAL LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES TO USDA AND THE NATION VIA THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL LIBRARY
Analysis of Results: Under Goal 6, Management Initiative 1, 3 Indicators are aligned under 3 Performance Measures. While it is not possible to report all accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in these Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2004. Twenty-six significant accomplishments are reported below.
OBJECTIVE 6.1: Provide Rapid, Comprehensive, and Long-Term Access to the
During FY 2004, NAL will continue to expand and improve services based on customer usage and satisfaction data.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL built a database to capture statistics about the management and delivery of digital information services, including electronic journals, reference materials, books, web sites, reference responses, and digitized collections. The work was performed in conjunction with the Association of Research Libraries’ E-Metrics project.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: NAL used the database to collect FY 2004 data and anticipates that the system will enable NAL to collect and compare cost and usage data consistently over time. NAL plans to share the database with other research libraries.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL increased the total volume of direct customer services by more than 30 percent, to nearly 67 million transactions.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: More NAL customers were supplied with more services and more information on a 24/7 basis than ever before.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL established a pilot small grants program for the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: More important agriculture information has been available on the web by collaborations between NAL and AgNIC partners.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The AgNIC - www.agnic.org - portal architecture was completed in early 2004. The distributed database interface has allowed one Spanish language partner in
IMPACT/OUTCOME: These new technologies will support far greater participation in AgNIC by HBCUs and Tribal institutions, as well as the Hispanic Serving Institutions and those institutions located in Spanish speaking countries. The underlying architecture will also allow distributed web site development, easy content management, and other-than-English language interfaces (i.e., Spanish).
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The AgNIC Alliance began working with twelve potential partners ranging from tribal colleges to HBCUs to international organizations and U.S. Federal agencies.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The new USDA AgNIC membership encourages broader participation by USDA agencies and programs and establishes a model for partnering between USDA and an academic institution for AgNIC membership. A small grant for travel expenses will further engage three additional HBCU institutions in a partnership to prepare a subject site on “goals” during 2005. The distributed system will allow fuller participation by Spanish language communities throughout
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Maintaining the lowest possible turnaround time remained the highest priority for improving services to NAL document delivery customers. Throughout FY 2004, NAL consistently maintained its goal of completing 98 percent of filled requests in two days.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Fast turnaround times and expanded electronic delivery options have been positively received by NAL customers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The Relais Enterprise document delivery system was installed and preparations were made for a spring 2005 launch.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The system will bring significant improvements in services by allowing USDA staff to submit requests for documents electronically from the AGRICOLA database without having to re-key or enter redundant information. Documents will be delivered to users via the web.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL completed the conversion of data from its legacy electronic library management system to the new library management system, Voyager. The system was fully implemented.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Voyager’s search interface and better searching capabilities improves access to the Library’s online catalog, AGRICOLA. The new system improves customer access to print and electronic materials in the Library’s collection. The system will support a faster more efficient process for requesting copies of printed materials ensuring speedier delivery of content to NAL customers.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The second year of the NAL-led Digital Desktop Library for USDA (DigiTop) showed continued success. In addition to the establishment of ongoing funding from ARS, substantial funding was received from other USDA agencies, including the Forest Service. In addition to providing continuous online access for USDA staff to the full text of electronic journals and newspapers, and to research databases, DigiTop added the provision of an end-user searchable Table of Contents service and an automated Selective Dissemination of Information or article citation alert service.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: DigiTop provides 24-hour-a-day access to high demand databases, journals, newspapers, and other important digital information resources to USDA’s more than 100,000 staff members, who can search current citations and abstracts for more than 8,000 scholarly academic journals and the tables of contents for over 23,000 journals. For periodic alerts of new publications of interest, DigiTop customers can have individualized search strategies developed, where appropriate databases are selected to meet specific needs, and duplicate records from overlapping databases are removed. DigiTop services enable direct access to much needed information immediately, thereby providing a much stronger support to policymaking, research, and operations than was possible before DigiTop.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The FSRIO web sites’ growing usage has increased the ability to support information sharing for researchers and educators in food safety. Sharing technology reduces duplication of work effort and saves time and cost of producing online resources.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: In collaboration with the ARS National Program Leader for Animal Health, NAL produced a major publication in support of the 2003 ARS Immunology Research Workshop, held in December 2003. An electronic version of the publication will be available in 2005 on the web via the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The workshop proceedings publication showcases the depth and breadth of the USDA immunology research and details results of four working groups tasked with identifying future research needs. It also serves as an example of how NAL information centers can provide important support to the operational programs of USDA agencies.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The four volume bibliography was produced to support the goals of USDA's multi-agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). The bibliography was the first major accomplishment of the project and was distributed at the 12th National Non-point Source Monitoring Conference and to various stakeholders with interests in agricultural and environmental issues, including authors of a USDA-led literature synthesis of conservation practices used in cropping systems.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL began working with the Economic Research Service (ERS) on a new Food Stamp Nutrition Connection recipe database scheduled to premier in June 2005 that will integrate data from the Infoscan database containing food price information from over 11,000 vendors in the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The database will be used by Food Stamp educators nationwide to help program beneficiaries better manage family food dollars while preparing nutritious meals.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Other publications and web-based information services developed by NAL covered various topic areas and emerging issues including: Soybean Rust; Alternative Farming - Organic Marketing; Technology Transfer - Bioenergy and Biofuels; Water Quality - Conservation Programs and Practices; Food Safety - Risk Assessment, Biosensors, Predictive Microbiology; and Animal Welfare - Care and Use of Insects, Beef Housing and Welfare, Spaying and Neutering, Care of Selected Birds, Giant Panda Care, Traveling with Animals, BSE, and Other Animal Related Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The development of these publications, often published quite rapidly, is one example of NAL’s response to customer information needs. NAL’s web sites are linked to tens of thousands of institutions around the world and Web-site evaluation organizations continuously direct customers to NAL and make awards to NAL sites.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Working under a formal agreement with the Technology Transfer Information Center, Artifex Equipment, Inc., was awarded a $75,875 SBIR grant from USDA to test the feasibility of using a corn-based, ARS-developed super absorbent polymer to dry wet materials. A potential product called Dri-Gel emerged. Nineteen additional agreements were signed to allow other libraries and organizations to test the product, and a provisional patent application was filed. Additional testing by USDA chemists confirmed that the product does not harm paper. Artifex received orders for the early stage product and is beginning to move into manufacturing.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: The funding received from SBIR/USDA allowed the testing, design, and early development of a new biobased product, Dri-Gel, for drying wet books and other materials, and the product is moving toward commercialization. Artifex signed an agreement with another SBIR company and will begin marketing two products, Dri-Gel and an environmentally friendly de-acidification product. This could result in the adoption of two new technologies by NAL and the archive community, and the prosperity of two very small companies. This work illustrates how the Technology Transfer Information Center and other information centers use NAL’s electronic information sources to serve as an information support system to connect customers to research, market and manufacturing information, and to promote economic development.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Content enhancements to the Invasivespecies.gov web site in FY 2004 include: Western Rangelands Invasive Plants; seventeen new species profiles; images added to nearly all species profile pages; a species of the month feature; enhanced coverage for legislation; international meetings; educational resources, etc. The program continues to plan for change; input was gathered at a stakeholder workshop and through the ForeSee Customer Satisfaction Survey.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Impact of the Invasivespecies.gov web site continues to grow. October 2004 saw nearly twice as many hits compared to the same month in 2003; altogether in the last year the web site was accessed more than two million times. The stakeholder workshops and the ForeSee survey results are yielding information to guide development of the web site to better meet customer needs.
During FY 2004, NAL will continue to increase the amount and types of agricultural information covered by AGRICOLA, particularly online full text publications, reduce the time required for indexing top priority journal articles, and improve ways of finding information in AGRICOLA.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL’s Technical Services Division continually monitors USDA and GPO web sites to identify new titles that should be added to NAL’s collection, including those available in electronic format. In addition, numerous titles formerly received as gifts or on exchange are now available only via the web. URLs for these types of publications are continually added to AGRICOLA, ensuring that access is continued and increasing the titles for which full text is available via AGRICOLA.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Materials that are shifting to e-only format are routinely identified, captured, and updated in the AGRICOLA catalog ensuring continued access to content and increasing the proportion of materials that are available electronically. This will transition the NAL collection, as access becomes available, to electronic format and ultimately serve as the backbone for the National Digital Library for Agriculture.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL catalogers and indexers added 9,533 links to online digital publications into the AGRICOLA database. This represents a 19 percent increase over 2003 levels bringing the total to over 52,000 links.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: AGRICOLA provides full text at the desktop for an additional 9,533 full text electronic publications.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL implemented the use of the Voyager indexing module. Enhancements to the indexing module remain to be implemented in order to maximize production, but the indexing of journal articles has recommenced and streamlined production was implemented. This is part of an overall restructuring of the indexing workflow and the introduction of automated bibliographic systems that will speed up the creation of indexing records for AGRICOLA.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: NAL has established the environment and technology for new procedures and programs that will streamline the creation of citations for AGRICOLA in FY 2005 - 2006.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: In January, NAL published an updated 2004 version of the National Agricultural Library Thesaurus (NALT), which is used for indexing journal articles in AGRICOLA. AGRICOLA bibliographic records were updated with the new terminology.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Updates in terminology which is alignment with agricultural trends and innovations simplifies finding relevant information in AGRICOLA.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: In August, a duplicate (mirror) web site for the NALT was established at the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: A duplicate (mirror) web site ensures the availability of the thesaurus web pages and search functionality to customers in the case of unforeseen circumstances at either location and distributes system load among and between the two IT systems so that performance and reliability are optimal for customers.
During FY 2004, NAL will continue to preserve, protect, and secure its national collection of agricultural information.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL maintained currency with the latest versions of the software for Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe (LOCKSS), a collaborative digital preservation demonstration project led by
IMPACT/OUTCOME: NAL’s participation in the LOCKSS demonstration program is important in exploring options for providing citizens access to digital government information over time. This effort marks pioneering efforts to address the issues of long-term storage, authenticity, and access for digital information.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NAL’s digitizing efforts included completion of an effort to digitize the heavily used USDA Home and Garden series publications, improving access to the Journal of Agriculture and the Yearbook of Agriculture, increasing availability of digitized historical photographs, and other small collections which meet the needs of users. The subject emphasis for digital conversion in 2004 was rural information. Planning for links from the AGRICOLA database to NAL-digitized texts is underway.
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Digitizing important library materials is key to meeting the needs of a varied customer base. Digitization of the Home and Garden series publications was a model collaborative digital content building project among NAL, AgNIC, and
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Cybersecurity activities included upgrading NAL’s firewall, instituting new user password change procedures in conjunction with migrating to Windows XP, responding to USDA security mandates, providing ARS online training in computer security, implementing a proxy server for USDA access to licensed databases through NAL, and launching a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
IMPACT/OUTCOME: NAL’s improved security posture provides an even higher level of assurance for data integrity, mitigation of computer and network vulnerabilities, and at the same time, improved functionality for users.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS designated the
IMPACT/OUTCOME: Security upgrades are 95 percent complete and all of the systems are operational. The contractor still has to complete minor corrections to the different security systems. The security upgrades will provide better oversight of access to the building. A state-of-the-art camera system provides a visual overview of activities at several critical locations at both internal and external areas around the building. Guard service was also increased to ensure better coverage throughout the building, especially the entrances, loading dock, and the parking areas.
MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE 2: PROVIDE ADEQUATE FEDERAL FACILITIES REQUIRED TO SUPPORT THE RESEARCH
Analysis of Results: Under Goal 6, Management Initiative 2, 1 Indicator is aligned under 1 Performance Measure. While it is not possible to report all accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in this Indicator was completed or substantially completed during FY 2004. The accomplishments are reported below.
During FY 2004, ARS will continue to modernize and construct new research facilities on a priority basis.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ARS completed design of research facilities at the following locations:
IMPACT/OUTCOME: New or modernized laboratory facilities have been provided to support the mission of the Agency in the areas of nutrition, food safety/quality, animal production and protection, natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems, and crop production and protection.