Farmers are faced with the challenge of producing sufficient crops to meet growing consumer demand while maintaining the quality and quantity of resources for future generations. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are developing research-based technologies to help farmers increase productivity and production efficiency while practicing sustainable agriculture.
Importance of Crop Production
Field and forage (agronomic) crops are grown on most of the 200 million acres of harvested cropland in the United States. Agronomic crops provide the food, feed grain, oil, and fiber for domestic consumption and are a major component of U.S. export trade. Horticultural plants — those grown specifically for human use — offer variety to human diets and enhance the living environment.
NIFA programs are working to increase crop production while maintaining the environment by providing services such as:
- Conducting research on issues that affect horticultural breeding, growth, and production
- Improving productivity of field and forage crops
- Ensuring sound use of natural resources, reducing soil erosion, and improving soil quality
- Implementing newly developed and tested methods that improve soil on both conventional and organic farms
- Reviving heirloom varieties of crops while developing new varieties
- Helping farmers plant crops suitable to local and regional climate and crop management needs