People and organizations in developed countries and in developing countries can exchange useful information and ideas to solve problems related to sustainability of agriculture. Likewise, scientists and policy makers can learn from farmers and vice versa. Researcher and farmer partnerships and peer-to-peer exchanges among farmers could facilitate incorporation of local knowledge, making use of the best-available scientific process-level understanding, and enabling learning and developing knowledge systems to build the local capacity for improving agricultural sustainability.
This report identifies what is known about farming practices and systems that can improve sustainability. It discusses the potential benefits and risks if those practices are used and the potential synergies and tradeoffs that might present themselves if the practices are used in combination in a farm system. The report also identifies knowledge gaps and areas where greater research is needed to help inform future decisions and to move agriculture along the sustainability trajectory. Filling those gaps will require some innovative new approaches in the realms of resilience thinking, complex systems science and management as applied to agroecosystems, and a better understanding of the economic and social drivers and outcomes of various farming approaches. The report findings show positive and promising outcomes among the production systems, farming businesses, and communities that are pursuing improved sustainability. It also reveals the importance of government agencies, farmers, food industry companies, communities, and consumers to support research, policies, programs, and institutions that help U.S. agriculture move along the sustainability trajectory.