“American ranchers and farmers are at the front line of the effort to protect the health and productivity of our western rangelands,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This new study not only provides valuable information about the current state of these lands, but also sets a baseline that will enable USDA to make our conservation efforts more effective and efficient in the future.”
The study, which was published today in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, was the result of collaboration between two USDA agencies--the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)--and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The study reveals that less than 25 percent of non-federal rangelands have significant land degradation, but that non-native plant species now occur on nearly 50 percent of all non-federal rangeland. While some of these species have significant benefits for soil conservation, others have negative effects. The study evaluated more than 10,000 field plots across western rangelands using National Resources Inventory (NRI) data. The NRI is a statistical survey designed to help gauge natural resource status, conditions and trends on U.S. non-federal land.
For this study, the authors developed a new system for collecting NRI data to provide land managers with a baseline for making objective assessments. The system, developed by ARS, NRCS, USGS and the Bureau of Land Management, is designed to help land managers monitor western rangelands. It will also ensure the land remains productive by using scientific and local knowledge to establish reference conditions for different types of rangeland.
Rangelands across the western United States support productive ecosystems, and hundreds of millions of dollars are invested each year in public and private funds to manage and conserve them. Because rangelands are highly diverse, their accurate assessments depend on understanding how different types of land vary in potential for supporting productive ecosystems while limiting runoff and erosion.
“These findings will provide a new tool for addressing how to monitor the vast tracts that stretch across the western United States and ensure that they are well used and remain productive,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS administrator.
“We have gained a great deal of knowledge about the health of U.S. rangelands with this study,” said NRCS Chief Dave White. “NRCS can use this knowledge to improve our policies and technical skills to better serve landowners and taxpayers.”
The collected quantitative data can be used as a baseline to monitor rangeland health in future studies such as the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). CEAP is a long-term effort designed to determine the environmental effects of conservation practices on agricultural lands. CEAP also can be used to set a course for future conservation action.
Additional details appear in the Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment paper, available online at http://www.frontiersinecology.org/, and in an NRI report released by NRCS, available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/nri.
ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. NRCS is celebrating 75 years of helping people help the land.
Dennis O'Brien | Newswise Science News
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy