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Maryland - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center

Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center (MDPMC)
Serving National and Regional needs and the Mid-Atlantic Region

Established: 1939
Size: 285 acres
PMC Operation: NRCS
Land Ownership: NRCS

Image of the Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center sign

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 regional activities include developing plants and technology to conserve natural resources in the Mid-Atlantic region, roughly defined as the area 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’s plant and technology development objectives include water quality and soil health, wildlife and pollinator habitat improvement, and livestock forage production.  The primary studies include work on cover crop species performance and refining data and technology to improve conservation practices.  The center also maintains several demonstration plantings, which are available for numerous educational and training opportunities. The center develops management and cultural technology necessary for the establishment and acceptance of promising plant materials by the conservation community. 

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.

Highlights

IMPROVING COVER CROP RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Identify phenology parameters to maximize soil health benefits from cover crops.
  • Replicate plantings by both seeding date and termination date to accurately quantify aboveground biomass of cereal grain cover crops.

IMPROVING POLLINATOR HABITAT ESTABLISHMENT

  • Identify management technology to establish diverse native habitats for wildlife and provide food sources for pollinators.
  • Evaluate species establishment in pure stands and in mixed plantings.
  • Draft Plant Fact Sheets and wildflower mix recommendations to provide information needed to successfully establish diverse plantings to support pollinators.

IMPROVING FORAGE DATA

  • Establish multiple species’ forage plots to create more accurate growth curves for each species.
  • Replicate plantings to improve accuracy and precision of growth curves.
  • Generate data for software programs to improve modeling and grazing/forage recommendations for the mid-Atlantic.

WARM SEASON COVER CROP DEMONSTRATION

  • Plant over forty varieties of warm season covers in a replicated planting and collect data on establishment, growth, and weed suppression.
  • Generate recommendations and training opportunities for use by organic vegetable producers.

CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT PLANTS DEMONSTRATION

  • Plant over twenty varieties of culturally significant plants to train field staff on plant identification.  
  • Selected plant varieties carry cultural significance primarily for American Indians and are traditionally used for food, fiber, medicine, and dye.

Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
8791 Beaver Dam Road, Bldg. 509, BARC-East
Beltsville, MD 20705
Phone: (301) 289-9775
Fax: (855) 416-9659