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Ecological Science

 NRCS staff at work on showcase farm operation

 

NRCS uses many science-based disciplines in helping people help the land. This holistic approach to natural resources conservation is carried out through integrating many scientific areas.  Numerous technical references and tools help NRCS staff conduct its work. Refer to the variety of disciplines listed in the outline on the left and under the Topics Tab. 

The Ecosystem can be defined as all the interacting parts of the physical and biological worlds. Ecology includes the study of natural communities that have not been disturbed by human activities. Applying ecological principals to environmental problems can help guide solutions that are sustainable and mimic natural systems. Agricultural endeavors need to take basic ecological science into account to avoid environmental damage.

NRCS, once known as the Soil Conservation Service, was created in response to one of the worst ecological disasters in the US - the Dust Bowl. In the 1930's, farmers plowed the native perennial grasses in the mid-west and replaced the vegetation with annual crops without sufficient conservation practices to protect the soil. Unprecedented soil loss occurred and many agricultural areas were destroyed. NRCS uses ecological science to develop techniques that conserve soil, protect water quality, improve wildlife habitat, increase energy efficiency and promote economically viable, productive farms and woodlots. Helping farmers and forest landowners to develop a total resource management system that is appropriate for their land is one of the goals of the NRCS.