Agriculture-Ecology Initiative Announced

The US Department of Agriculture announces a partnership of 10 study sites to help promote long-term research.

By | September 18, 2012

Lynn Suckow" > Farmlands near Walla Walla, WashingtonWikimedia, Lynn Suckow

Despite being refused $9.5 million in funding by Congress, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving ahead with its plans to create a network of 10 experimental study sites to help improve research on long-term ecological changes that impact agriculture.

"I think this is a positive step toward more integrative research," Laurie Drinkwater of Cornell University told ScienceInsider.

The sites, including the Central Plains Experimental Range and the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Arizona, were chosen for their demonstrated partnerships with non-governmental organizations and track records of long-term research. The ultimate goal of the network is to allow researchers to “investigate important research questions against a wide range of environmental conditions,” at the different sites according to a press release, while being able to study slow-occurring phenomenon like change in soil carbon.

Ultimately, Drinkwater told ScienceInsider, including the 10 sites in the network may decrease their chances of being added to the list of 12 research programs that have already been shut down due to budget tightening this year.

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