Location: Soil and Water Management ResearchTitle: Our science matters - and is recognized
Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/25/2018
Publication Date: 5/3/2018
Citation: Evett, S.R. 2018. Our science matters - and is recognized. CSA News. 63(5):18-19. https://doi.org/10.2134/csa2018.63.0515.
Interpretive Summary: The American Society of Agronomy is a scientific and technical society with members from every state in the US, and from many other countries. Many members are scientists and engineers involved in research and development of improved agronomic methods that reduce waste and cost, make more efficient use of agricultural inputs, defeat pests and diseases, improve harvesting methods, improve water quality and increase farm profitability. In addition to more than 8,000 scientists and engineers employed by federal, state and private industry, the society includes several thousand crop advisors and farm managers who put into practice the engineering and scientific advances and feed back to the scientific community the relative success or need for improvement of new methods, products and approaches. The Society and its membership play strong roles in promoting all five key indicators of rural prosperity listed by the Presidential Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, but particularly the last two: Harnessing Technological Innovation, and Economic Development.
Technical Abstract: The Presidential Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity listed five key indicators of rural prosperity: e-Connectivity for Rural America, Improving Quality of Life, Supporting a Rural Workforce, Harnessing Technological Innovation, and Economic Development (https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rural-prosperity-report.pdf). All five Task Force indicators are inter-tied in one way or another, and all have relevance to what we do in agronomic science and production. Rural quality of life improves with technological innovation and education, both of which offer roles for us to play. Harnessing technological innovations is where the agronomic sciences really shine. Growth in global agricultural output is presently between 2.3 and 2.5%, and approximately 80% of it is due to productivity growth, not increases in farmed land or agricultural inputs. Enabling technologies include all those that agronomists and our engineering allies are working on – from drones and aerial imagery to plant genetics and soil biology. Biotechnology is another sector that is boosting productivity. Overall, 92% of corn, soybean and cotton acreage in the US is planted to a biotech crop – sometimes known as the fourth industrial revolution. Creation and use of all these technologies depends heavily on education, particularly in the STEM fields. So continued progress in STEM education is a primary driver for continued rural prosperity.