Sustainability

  • A tractor on a yellow field of canola with the text "Sustainability"

Sustainability

* Image courtesy of Getty Images

The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050. Producing enough food for our growing planet may be the single greatest challenge the world will face. To meet this huge demand, farmers, ranchers, and suppliers must find ways to produce more food in a sustainably, environmentally friendly way.

ARS is dedicated to helping farmers address the increasing global demand for food, feed, fiber, and fuel while also sustaining the environmental and economic viability of agriculture. As a multidisciplinary practice and philosophy, sustainable agriculture unites researchers from a diverse range of scientific studies — microbiology, animal nutrition, soil science, plant physiology, and more — to the common goal of overcoming challenges related to productivity, profitability, energy efficiency, and natural resource management. 

Here are some examples of our work:

In This Section

A tractor in a field
Let’s Get Smart About Climate Change and Farming

ARS developed climate smart farming systems by employing artificial intelligence to help farms become more sustainable.

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A field being irrigated
Protecting Water

ARS scientists in Arizona are exploring ways to use water more efficiently, by recycling wastewater to irrigate crops.

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Earth Day: Investing in Our Planet

Learn how ARS’s research and accomplishments promote sustainability, address climate change, and benefit the environment.

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A chemist fills an isochoric chamber with whole pomegranates while a food technologist weighs pomegranate arils.
Revolutionary New Freezing Method

A new method of freezing food without turning it rock solid could not only improve the quality, but save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, too.

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Airplane at the airport.
Environmentally Friendly Air Travel

ARS scientists are working to make a better jet biofuel and make air travel more sustainable.

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A glass of cranberry juice
Fighting Cranberry Pests

Tiny, wormlike organisms called nematodes that attack cranberry pests could offer a natural alternative to using insecticides.

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A pond
Bacteria Doing Good on Earth and in Space!

ARS scientists aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty while researching ways to manage manure and protect water resources.

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A plot of soybeans treated with elevated carbon dioxide at the SoyFACE Global Change Research Facility
Readying Crops and People for Climate Change

A high-tech facility called SoyFACE allows for open-air field tests simulating greenhouse gases conditions predicted for 2050.

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Technician in a field working with telemetry equipment used to validate Irrigator Pro recommendations.
Be a Pro

ARS scientists helped to develop Irrigator Pro, an agricultural decision support tool that helps farmers and growers schedule irrigation.

Be a Pro
Cattle grazing
Eating Our Way to Fire Mitigation

ARS researchers have developed innovative methods to reduce fires exacerbated by highly flammable grasses.

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Small sprouting seedlings
Hammer-time

The "Slide Hammer Seeder” can efficiently seed a variety of small-seeded herbs and vegetables.

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Hidden Valley meadow fescue
Hidden Valley Fescue

ARS scientists released “Hidden Valley” meadow fescue, a type of flowering grass that flourishes across the midwestern U.S.

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Close-up of a salmon
New Fish in the Water

ARS researchers have bred an improved salmon strain and shared the eggs with commercial fish farms.

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Weeds
This is Exhausting

An innovative method to control weed growth by simply using engine exhaust heat produced by a walk-behind tractor’s engine.

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Two Scottish Highland cattle
Yakety Yak

ARS researchers and their partners have developed the most complete genome sequence to date for yak and Scottish Highland cattle.

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Scientist examines herbaceous plants in a biochar amended plots 1-year post-planting
Rejuvenating Soil with Biochar

Scientists examining biochar's potential to rejuvenate the soil, especially in degraded land areas like mining sites.

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A monarch caterpillar feeds on common milkweed
Matching Milkweeds to Monarch Butterflies

Studies of milkweed species in critical breeding areas show that female monarch butterflies prefer laying their eggs on certain species.

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A hand holding aquafeed pellets
“Juicing” Alfalfa for a Sustainable Aquaculture

Scientists are experimenting with alfalfa as an alternative to using fishmeal in aquaculture feeds given to "farm-raised" fish.

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A prescribed burn
A “Burning” Ecological Question

When it comes to restoring rangeland habitats, there is no replacement for "prescribed fire," according to ARS ecologists.

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A partial map of ARS research locations
Check Out Our Cool Map

Use our interactive map to find out what revolutionary research is being conducted in your state.

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