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Longer-Term Agriculture Research

NIFA is looking beyond a 2- or 3-year grant cycle to longer-term agriculture research as a way to develop and implement stronger, more comprehensive outreach and education ties to research in agricultural ecosystems. The goals are to conserve and optimize the use of limited natural resources and to sustain the environment's ability to provide economic, social, and environmental services to society. Systems-based understanding of the linkages among biophysical processes and human activity over a longer period of time will show the resilience of agroecosystems facing environmental and socioeconomic changes. A longer-term perspective will also show how these attributes protect food and fiber production. A better understanding of the long-term functioning of agricultural systems across a broader range of conditions will help develop innovative conservation and stewardship programs that benefit from sustainable practices.

Longer-term research using a multiple disciplinary approach to the delivery of ecosystem services in agriculture will encourage stronger collaboration and coordination strategies among university faculty in research, education, and extension. In August 2006, the NIFA LTAR-EE Workshop created a white paper on the subject, titled Long-Term Agricultural Research (LTAR): A Research, Education, and Extension Imperative.

This white paper has been published in the July/August 2008 issue of BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. 


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