The Earth's temperature is rising as a result of increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Agriculture is a source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions, two prominent greenhouse gases. Changes in agricultural practices can reduce emissions of these gases, and reduce atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide by sequestering carbon in soil.
Some farming practices (excess fertilization and manure, for example) can degrade our Nation's natural resources while others (such as preserving land for wildlife) can enhance our natural heritage. USDA conservation programs offer producers a range of options for assistance with conservation efforts.
ERS analyzes the use and efficacy of conservation practices and of Federal programs and policies in combating the harmful effects of agriculture as they relate to: Soil quality, as compromised by wind and water erosion; Water quality, as compromised by chemical/pesticide and nutrient runoff; Air quality, as compromised by soil particulates, farm chemicals, and odor from livestock; Wildlife habitat, as compromised by fragmentation, monoculture (which reduces landscape diversity), and diverting water for irrigation; and Wetlands, as compromised by conversion to cropland
Consumer demand for organically produced goods has shown double-digit growth for well over a decade, providing market incentives for U.S. farmers across a broad range of products.
Invasive Species Issues
Note: this topic is archived and is no longer being updated. USDA and other Federal and State Government agencies have programs to prevent entry and to detect, monitor, and manage invasive species that enter the United States or spread to new regions. This page presents an overview, background and current issues on the ERS invasive species management research program.