Science holds the key to a more sustainable farm future

Read the full story in The Hill.

Recent news about Sam Clovis withdrawing his nomination for the United States Department of Agriculture’s top scientist post was probably the first time that the issue of agricultural research made headlines — and was a trending topic on Twitter.

But a wide range of other agricultural issues have continually made the news this year, including continually depressed corn and soybean prices, rapidly expanding weed problems and the associated spread of toxic chemicals, threats to safe drinking water, and the ever-growing dead zones from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

These problems may seem unrelated, but to agroecologists — scientists who work at the intersection of agriculture and ecology — they are all fundamentally connected. Farms are complex systems of soils, pests, air, water, trees, grasses, insects and animals interacting with one another. Understanding how to keep enough nutrients in soils and plants, while reducing pollutants in water and the atmosphere, are key to maintaining productivity of farmers and ranchers while preventing damage to the environment and human health in rural communities.

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