The Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center (NPMC) in Beltsville, Maryland, services both national and regional needs. The Center focuses on national initiatives and provides coordination and assistance for Plant Materials work across all 50 states. The national activities cover all 50 states and consist primarily of administrative support. The regional activities are concerned with developing plants and technology to conserve natural resources in the Mid-Atlantic region. The regional service area is loosely defined from southern Pennsylvania to North Carolina and Tennessee, including the Piedmont region and the edge of the Appalachian mountain range.
The Center is located on the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC). The BARC facility is owned and operated by the USDA and is dedicated to basic and applied agricultural research. The area consists of hardwood forests with numerous openings and fields. Soils on the center are mainly sandy loams, with areas of silt loam and clay. The land varies from gently sloping to moderately sloping. Conservation practices are necessary to prevent erosion.
The NPMC has developed new varieties of bermudagrass and black locust, and the Center has researched and published information on growing wildflowers and native grasses in the region.
ENHANCING WILDLIFE HABITAT
Identify plants and management technology to restore diverse native habitats for wildlife and provide food sources for pollinators
Farm Bill and conservation programs to improve pollinator habitat, wildlife habitat, ecological restoration efforts, and soil stabilization are enhanced by five native grasses and two native forbs developed for commercial production.
Recommendations developed for renovating dense warm-season grass stands to include forbs and legumes are critical to improving wildlife habitats in conservation plantings.
Plant Fact Sheets and wildflower mix recommendations provide information needed to successfully establish diverse plantings to support pollinators.
IMPROVING AIR AND WATER QUALITY
Identify plants to mitigate air and water quality problems in rural and urban areas
Technical Note 1: Windbreak Plant Species for Odor Management around Poultry Production Facilities provides training for field office staff and technical guidance on the use of trees, shrubs, and grasses to address the urban interface difficulties caused by the expulsion of odors and ammonia from poultry house ventilation fans.
Improving water quality by reducing sediment and nutrient runoff through methods that improve establishment and persistence of bermudagrass on heavily used horse pastures.
A rain garden project at the NPMC educates visitors on the potential of collecting stormwater runoff, rather than having it flow into storm drains or surface waters. The establishment of rain gardens reduces the amount of pollution reaching creeks and streams.
IMPROVING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY
Identify plant species and varieties with improved performance for forage and biofuels
Technical Note 3: Selection and Use of Native Warm-Season Grass Varieties for the Mid-Atlantic Region assists in the selection and promotes the value of conservation plants for forage and other conservation uses.
Cool-season grass, native warm-season grass, and bermudagrass trials provide information on the forage production and agronomic performance of commercially available varieties.
Technical information on the usage of tall wheatgrass as a biofuels feedstock for the Mid-Atlantic states is developed through participation in a national inter-center strain trial evaluating five, commercially available cultivars
Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
Bldg. 509, BARC-East,
Beaver Dam Rd.
Beltsville, MD 20705