NRES faculty apply ecological theory and systems analysis to understand and manage farming, food, and bioenergy systems to produce needed basic, environmental, social, and economic services. Research in sustainable agriculture and agroecology is applied in nature and often relies on participatory methods that engage the farmers, community and business groups, or consumers. Related research draws on our strengths in soil, water, and microbial sciences to apply ecological principles to solve problems in agriculture and to determine how farming methods and conservation practices influence ecosystem services, disease-pest-antibiotic resistance, and climate mitigation.
NRES faculty develop management tools such as soil tests and sustainability certification strategies for food and bio-energy systems. We apply geospatial analysis and modeling tools to understand the influence of farming systems on wildlife, biodiversity, water, and wetlands. Our strengths in geography, policy and psychology allow us to explore interactions between agricultural practices and the socio-technical factors (eg: legal frameworks, policy and social and business networks) that determine sustainability. We combine social and biophysical sciences with ecosystem sciences and sustainable agriculture to develop analytical and technical skills, enabling students to solve important problems by linking ecology, culture, and economics to design or support agricultural systems that sustain production while promoting environmental, social and economic health.