Rethinking the Vision for Environmental Research in US Agriculture

Miranowski, John; Robertson, G. P.; Broome, J. C.; Chornesky, E. A.; Frankenberger, J. R.; Johnson, P.; Lipson, M.; Owens, E. D.; Pimmentel, D.; Thrupp, L. A.

BioScience Vol. 54 no. 1 (January 2004): 61-65.

Environmental research in agriculture is today largely reactive, focused on problems at small scales and conducted within narrow disciplinary boundaries. This approach has worked to abate a number of environmental problems created by agriculture, but it has not provided effective solutions for many of the most recalcitrant ones. Furthermore, the approach fails to position agriculture to deliver new environmental benefits that the public and policymakers increasingly demand. A new vision is needed for environmental research in agriculture--one that is anticipatory; promotes long-term, systems-level research at multiple scales; better incorporates important interactions between the biophysical and social sciences; and provides for the proper evaluation of deployed solutions. Achieving this vision will require major changes in funding strategies, in institutional reward structures, and in policies that presently inhibit collaborations across disciplinary and institutional boundaries. It is, nevertheless, time to act.

Published Version