A fox pup explores a part of the BARC research
farm. Click image for additional information.
story to find out more.
Cuts Pesticide Use by 75 Percent
By Don Comis
October 6, 2003
One of the Agricultural Research
Service's largest research facilities has reduced pesticide use by 75 percent
over the past decade by applying ARS
sustainable agriculture research to its farm operations. At about 7,000 acres,
the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center (BARC) is the agency's second-largest
BARC land joins other federal properties to form a heavily forested area of
more than 30,000 acres near the nation's capital.
Sustainable agriculture techniques in use at BARC include a combination of
practices, such as weed-smothering cover crops and increased use of beneficial
insects. Since 1997, the center also has produced its own compost from plant
residue and manure. The compost facility is surrounded by a 20-foot-wide grass
buffer strip, as are 80 percent of BARC fields. The strips filter out possible
pollutants before they reach streams that feed into the Anacostia River, which
flows into the Potomac River and then to the Chesapeake Bay.
A pair of nesting bald eagles overlooking a swamp created by beavers is a
telling symbol of BARC's environmental stewardship. Beaver Dam Creek flows
below the eagles' nest, which is in an oak tree at the swamp's edge, upstream
from the composting center. The streams at BARC are now clean enough to support
Read more about BARC's environmentalism in the
October issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.