Submitted to: Agronomy Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2017
Publication Date: 10/22/2017
Citation: Spiegal, S.A., Bestelmeyer, B.T. 2017. Sustainable intensification of U.S. agriculture: Aspirations and barriers in the regional agroecosystems of the LTAR network [abstract]. Agronomy Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America Meeting. October 22-25, 2017, Tampa, Florida. pg. 258-4.
Technical Abstract: The sustainable intensification of agriculture in the United States will require major shifts in producer decision-making, markets, and public policies. The Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network is working to better understand how these shifts may be accomplished. Through a common experiment, each LTAR location is comparing business-as-usual production with an aspirational production system hypothesized to bring forth sustainable intensification in the local region. We used a conceptual model described in a companion talk to design a questionnaire for network researchers, to understand the local experiments in common terms. Responses were used to identify generalities among the 21 aspirational systems and the factors preventing their adoption by producers. Most sites are investigating the effects of their experimental treatments on soil quality, water quality, yield-cost relationships, and climate resilience, suggesting these outcomes are critical to a national transition to sustainable intensification. Local innovations of 15 management practices are being researched as viable options for realizing aspirational outcomes. Range planting, prescribed burning, and livestock-landscape matching were deemed to have the lowest existing levels of adoption, attributed mainly to limited research and outreach by science support entities. Conversely, conservation tillage and cover crops were rated as having relatively high levels of both research-based outreach and producer adoption. Adoption, however, still lags behind outreach, and novel costs and labor were recognized as key barriers to more widespread usage. Our synthesis revealed common goals among LTAR localities despite their biogeographic diversity and the need for technologies and policies that offset producers’ costs for adopting aspirational production systems.