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CONFERENCE ON AGROECOSYSTEMS

April 5-6, 1995

Southern Pines, North Carolina


FOREWORD

The Conference on Agroecosystems was held April 5-6, 1995 at Mid-Pines Hotel, Southern Pines, North Carolina. The meeting objective was to "reexamine the land grant vision to better deal with the br oadening agenda which includes relationships between agriculture, natural resources and the environment." It was sponsored by the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors and the Southern Association of Extension Directors. These Proceedings include the summaries and abstracts of presentations provided by authors for inclusion. As editors, we adjusted the text for length and format. Meeting expenses and publication costs were provided by the Renewable Resource Exten sion Act Program at North Carolina State University, as well as by the registration fees of participants.

Peter T. Bromley and J. Theodore Morris, Editors
Departments of Zoology and Forestry
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, N orth Carolina
August 1995
 
 
 


CONFERENCE PROGRAM

April 5 - 6, 1995, Mid Pines Resort Conference Center, Southern Pines, North Carolina

Wednesday, April 5

1:00 The Challenge of Addressing Ag roecosystem Concerns at the Land Grant Universities. Opening Remarks and Panel Moderation - John T. Woeste, Dean for Extension, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

1:15 Perspectives of University Clients

    Ira H. Linville, Regional Coordinator of Agricultural Issues, US Environmental Protection Agency, Atlanta, Georgia

    Virginia Burkett, Chief, Forest Ecology Branch, Southern Science Center, National Biological Service, Lafayette, Louisiana

    Garth W. Boyd, Director of Land and Nutrient Resources, Murphy Family Farms, Inc, Rose Hill, North Carolina

    Sharon G. Haines, Director of Natural Resources, International Paper, Bainbridge, Georgia

    Bruce D. J. Batt, Assistant Director, Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research, Ducks Unlimited

    Gary T. Myers, Executive Director, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

2:30 Discussion, John Woeste. Moderator

3:00 Break

3:15 Perceptions of Disciplinary Scholars, Peter T. Br omley, Professor and Department Extension Leader, Department of Zoology, North Carolina State University - Moderator

    Economist - Larry W. Libby, Chair, Food and Resource Economics Department - University of Florida

    Sociologist - Ronald C. Wimberley, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, North Carolina State University

    Production Agriculturalist - William M. Hargrove, Professor and Associate Director, Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management, Collabo rative Research Support Program, University of Georgia

    Hydrologist - John M. Sweeten, Associate Department Head and Program Leader for Extension, Agricultural Engineering, Texas A & M University

    Wildlife Ecologist - Patricia Werner, Chair, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida

    Integrated Systems - Ronald E. Stinner, Director, Center for Integrated Pest Management, North Carolina State University

4:30 Discussion. Pete Bromley, Moderator

5:30 RECEPTION, MID PINES RESORT

6:30 BANQUET, MID PINES RESORT

    Introduction - James R. Fischer, Dean for Research and Director, South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station, Clemson University Speaker - Jack Odle, Editor, Progres sive Farmer Magazine, Birmingham, Alabama
Thursday, April 6

Responding to the Challenge - James R. Fischer, Dean for Research and Director, South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station, Clemson University

8:00 Can the Barriers to Better Client Service be Identified? James R. Fischer

8:15 Facilitated Break Out Sessions

9:30 Refreshments in the Main Meeting Room

10:00 Reports from Representative Group Leaders - Moderator, James R. Fischer

10:30 Response from Me eting Participants - Moderator, John Woeste

    Methods of conducting research and extension - Richard L. Jones, Dean for Research and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Scie nces.

    Human resource development - Daniel D. Godfrey, Dean for the School of Agriculture, North Carolina A&T University

    Curriculum guidance and design - James L. Oblinger, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Agriculture and Life Sc iences, North Carolina State University

    Melding Social, Agricultural and Natural Resource Interests - Durward F. Bateman, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University

11:30 Summary Remarks - Neville P. Cl arke, Executive Director, Southern Association, Agricultural Experiment Station Directors

AGROECOSYSTEMS CONFERENCE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE

    Peter T. Bromley, North Carolina State University, Chair
    Ed Kanemasu, University of Georgia
    Lott Rolse, III, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
    Eduardo Segarra, Texas Tech University and Texas A & M University
    Ronald E. Stinner, North Carolina State University
    Patricia Werner, University of Florida
    James R. Fischer, C lemson University (co-administrative advisor)
    John T. Woeste, University of Florida (co-administrative advisor)
    Neville P. Clarke, So. Association, Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (ex-officio)
AGROECOSYSTEMS FACILIT ATOR TEAM
    Eleanor Gerwels, Human Resources, NCSU, Team Leader
    John Anderson, Crop Sciences, NCSU
    Si Garber, Sociology and Anthropology, NCSU
    Judy Groff, 4-H, NCSU
    Ed Jones, Forestry, NCSU
    David Knauft, Crop Sciences , NCSU
    Mitch Owen, Extension Technology Services, NCSU
    Bill Palmer, Zoology, NCSU
    Katie Perry, Horticulture Science, NCSU
    Bernadette Watts, Agriculture and Extension Education, NCSU
    George Wilson, Horticulture Science, NCSU
    Joe Zublena, Agriculture and Natural Resources, NCSU
    Ted Morris, Forestry, NCSU (business manager)
    Ron Shearon, Agricultural and Extension Education (advisor)


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Neville P. Clar ke, Southern Association, Agricultural Experiment Station Directors

The conference had its origin in a decision by the Southern Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station Directors under the umbrella of the Southern Extension and Research Acti vities (SERA) relationship which facilitates regional cooperation among the institutions represented by these Associations. The 1890 counterparts also actively participated in the planning and organization of the conference. This is one of approxi mately 20 such activities and represents perhaps the most effective engagement that has occurred in the series. Drs. Jim Fischer and John Woeste served as co-administrative advisors and Dr. Peter Bromley was Chair of the Program Committee.

Dir ectors of Southern Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations perceived the need to re-examine the land grant vision to better deal with the broadening agenda which includes relationships between agriculture, natural resources and the environmen t. Traditional clientele of the land grant system also perceive the need to strike working compromises between production agriculture and environmental /natural resource interests to create a voluntary compliance rather than a regulatory environment .

The conference had as its principal audience administrators of research and extension programs in Land Grant Universities. A major purpose of the conference was to create an awareness of the new set of issues that must be addressed if land grant institutions are to provide the knowledge base and leadership to understand the relationships that will promote harmony between agriculture, broader ecosystems and human communities. In addition, it was hoped that the conference would contribu te to the definition of an action plan that will allow for a revitalization of agriculture programs in the Southern Land Grant Universities to deal with the new agenda and to identify areas in which regional cooperation might be useful and effecti ve. The conference provided an opportunity to examine the intersection of the production of food and fiber, the prudent and sustainable use of natural resources and the maintenance of a quality environment. It allowed a focus on the interaction an d impact of agriculture at the broader ecosystem level and has illuminated the need for using a systems approach both for research to understand complex interrelationships and for managing whole farm systems in the context of broader ecosystems.

Approach
The conference was organized to provid,e at the outset, perspectives from the major customers or clients of the land grant university -- those who use the products of our research, extension, and higher education programs. The intent was to better understand and recognize the individual and common perceptions of need of our customers with the goal of improving the definition of our common and separate university activities. A second aspect of the conference was the deve lopment of a view of how disciplinary scholars see their role and interface with related disciplines in conducting research and developing practical outcomes at the level of the agroecosystem.

The conference was intended to be a workshop in whi ch all participants had an opportunity to be active and to contribute to the thought process leading to the conclusions that will hopefully help guide the next steps at both the institutional and regional level. Our experience at Southern Pines ind icated that this interaction was indeed most useful and productive. The four key questions posed have been aimed at a "take-home" product that will be meaningful in forming both policy and implementing actions to take southern universities another step along the way towards responding to this new and exciting agenda. The four questions addressed dealt with:

  • Barriers to communication about ecosystems concerns between our customers and the university community.
  • Facilitating interdisciplinary teamwork on ecosystems activity.
  • More effective allocation of resources to meet these new needs.
  • Preparing students to address ecosystem issues.
The Challenge
Dr. John Woeste provided an excel lent overview of the need for an enlightened approach to agroecosystems in the university setting and a very pertinent review of recent literature on the subject. He set the stage for the conference by outlining the needs of our customers and the o pportunities that are derived from the modern sciences that can be applied to seeking meaningful solutions to complex problems.

Perspectives of University Clients
We had excellent and provocative inputs from a variety of customers of the land grant university including (a) EPA, (b) National Biological Service, (c) production agriculture, (d) forest industry, (e) Ducks Unlimited, and (f) Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Time did not permit hearing from at least two other cri tical customers: (a) the general public (taxpayer, consumer) and (b) lawmakers and other political figures.

The new Congress has a stated commitment to reduce the burden of government on the people and this is manifest in a shifting attitude a bout regulation, including environmental regulation. We are moving towards a more voluntary and less regulatory approach to environmental goals. At the same time, all national polls that have been taken show that the public continues to care very much about the environment and wants to do what is right to protect it. Not only does the public want to ensure the prudent use of natural resources for production of food and fiber, there is growing concern for access to and increased use of the "outdoors" (broadly defined) for recreational and non-consumptive use. The combination of public interest in a sound environment and a government that stresses voluntary rather than mandatory compliance creates even more need for the products of the land grant univ ersity in meeting the multiple interrelated needs of our customers.

As one looks over the customer input in the broadest sense, there is a call for a systems approach to the research, extension and education programs; and a systems approach to manag ement of individual farms placed in the context of the broader basins and landscapes of which they are a part. As one considers the input from scholars, it appears there is a growing convergence of still very different perspectives about what the pieces are and how they fit together. Dr. Pat Werner made a brief but profound statement recognizing that the science of ecology calls for a level of biology, mathematics, and social science that is often not fully perceived by those interested in contributing to agroecosystems.

Federal regulatory agencies either already have or will move to broaden their agendas to include prevention rather than just regulation. This creates new needs and opportunities for the land grant university agenda.

Moving fr om individual fields to whole farm to basins and landscapes from the regulatory viewpoint creates the need to develop and disseminate the knowledge and technology to plan, operate and evaluate progress at these multiple levels -- and to better understand the impacts of one level upon the other.

Those charged with understanding and monitoring the changes in abundance and distribution of the nation's biota and with relating this to social and economic consequences see a growing need for interdisciplina ry skills in new graduates, but at the same time caution that we must preserve disciplinary depth to support interdisciplinary activities.

The list of new tools and procedures which new graduates must have at their disposal to practice science in agr oecosystems are both awesome and exciting. Computer literacy, GIS, GPS, expert systems, remote sensing, telemetry -- these are examples of the tools that must be placed on top of disciplinary backgrounds. New curricula which provide broader vision of th e several disciplines needed will be required at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Highly concentrated and vertically integrated agriculture has special problems in the context of this conference. These organizations must on the one hand b e the low cost producer to survive and grow -- but must also be viewed as a champion of, not a threat to the environment. They wish to be viewed as helping to save rather than destroy the family farm. These operations are clearly willing to invest and be proactive in assuring their operations will function in harmony with surrounding ecosystems. They call for new knowledge and technology that will allow them to better assume this position.

The forest and forest products industries form a critica l dimension of the total ecosystem and are positioned to contribute in many positive ways to the health of such systems. As is the case with agricultural industries, forestry is moving towards more intensive management of their properties to grow more fi ber on fewer acres with more intensive management practice. Ecosystem management is an evolving concept -- with many uncertainties, preservation being one aspect upon which there is agreement. Sustainable forestry practices are recognized as being nece ssary to stay in business. It was proposed that there needs to be increased university-government-industry partnering in research and education to more effectively acquire the needed technology to proceed. There should be joint setting of priorities and leveraging mutual resources and to find critical mass. Multiple stakeholders create more credible results. Finding improved ways to take the environmental agenda to private forest land holders was viewed as critical.

There was a call for broad bas ed educational experience with balance between arts and sciences and a blending of several disciplines. Communication skills are of paramount importance. There was a call for better balance between classroom and experiential learning -- develop ability to think in an ecological framework -- and to manage the same way. Skills in international operations have growing importance across the major industries.

Ducks Unlimited has invested in a number of win-win situations which illustrate the possibilit ies to find optimal relationships between farming and wildlife habitat goals.

Moving from traditional state departments of wildlife concerned mainly with game species to the broader agenda is generating needs for these agencies to have broader linkag es and relationships than ever before and to develop conceptual and operational strategies for managing state activities in the context of basins, landscapes and even international dimensions. The use of new tools such as GIS will be main stream to the e merging paradigms. There is need to develop the conceptual framework and the operating systems to implement the broad goals. Universities must contribute to the development of both and provide the new talent that can effectively operate in this environm ent.

Perspectives of Disciplinary Scholars
Dr. Larry Libby stated that the problems and challenges of interdisciplinary relationships are in large part of our own making. The concept of all the pieces being fit together is not foreign. The disciplinary structures that have been created to deal with specialization are now potential barriers to interdisciplinary communication. The structure of modern universities relates to scientific and professional societies, the peer recognition of quality and achievement which is manifest in the promotion and tenure system and departmental structure that limits bringing together the needed expertise to do systems work.

The following were suggested as positive actions to be taken to facilitate agroecosystems engagement in universities:

Curricula:Require scientists to come together for courses that meld disciplines. Agroecosystems is now taught at the University of California.

  • Bring experiential information from the farm back to the classroom.
  • Take care not to be bullied by agricultural leadership to defend their right to do what they will with their private property.
  • Educate regulatory and other governmental agency staff about farming as a business -- what it takes to survive and thrive.
  • Stand up for sincere principles of objectivity.
Dr. Ron Wimberley reminded us that multiple stakeholders impinge on the production of food and fiber. He defined sustainability in the broader sense a nd noted that this leads to three subsets of critical policy issues:
  • Sustainability for society (food and fiber to feed the population).
  • Sustainability for the agricultural sector.
  • Rural viability.
He note d that the Land Grant missions include: agriculture, rural people and places, natural resources, the environment and society as a whole.

He pointed out the land grant universities should occupy the common ground: they are called on to represent oppo sing clientele, maintain confidence of multiple audiences; thus the need for flexibility and dynamic responsiveness.

Dr. Bill Hargrove reiterated much of what our customers identified as their needs and advice:

  • A more holistic approach to agriculture.
  • Scaling up the focus to basins and landscapes.
  • Interdisciplinary team approaches.
  • Better integration of research, extension and higher education.
  • Formation of new relationships between disciplines.
  • Better definition and engagement of clientele.
From the engineering perspective of Dr. John Sweeten the water quantity and quality issues that are critical to ecosystems management include:
  • irrigation
  • agricultural chem icals
  • rangeland and pasture
  • waste management
  • domestic supply
  • policy
  • Dr. Pat Werner stated that ecologists trying to work with agricultural disciplines are faced with significant communication problems. S he noted that even basic definitions of ecology and ecosystems are not shared. Further, classical agronomic scientists trained in reductionist scientific methods may not appreciate the need for holistic, landscape approaches to understand complex interac tions within ecosystems.

    Dr. Ron Stinner noted that Integrated Pest Management is moving from the crop field to the landscape and discovering interesting strengths and deficiencies in the process. The quantity of information and the importance of cu rrency should drive both university and industrial use of modern electronic communications. The tools are rapidly being put in place, developing and disseminating the culture and capabilities to use them is a first order assignment for land grant univers ities.

    * Complete copies of manuscripts by Dr. Wimberley and Dr. Sweeten are available from the authors.

    General Conclusions
    In a context broader than this conference, there is a call for revisiting the overall social contract betw een land grant universities and society -- agroecosystems is a key component of the new contract

    The nature of research, extension and higher education programs that address the intersection of agriculture and the broader ecosystem which includes pro duction systems requires an inherently inter- (not multi) disciplinary approach. It requires ability for individual disciplines to develop a better mutual understanding and to derive a set of definitions and interface relationships that will facilitate c ooperation and more meaningful interdependencies.

    It will be important to recognize that imperfect models available today can be used effectively in practice while better tools are being developed through research.

    Will departmental structures as we know them today be the principal paradigm of the future? Some southern land grant universities are taking heroic new steps in evolving the paradigm by establishing programs in which faculty retain their departmental home while working as team memb ers on agroecosystem issues.

    It should be recognized that the paradigm shift is occurring -- the reinvestment of existing resources in land grant institutions has produced a substantial shift from traditional applied disciplines to the areas of envir onmental biology and related sciences.


    THE CHALLENGE OF ADDRESSING ECOSYSTEM CONCERNS AT THE LAND GRANT UNIVERSITIES

    John T. Woeste, University of Florida

    The legislative halls and the popular press reso und with discussion, debates, concerns, questions and at times frustration about the interaction between agriculture as it is practiced today and its natural, social, and economic environments. The Southern Strategic Research Plan{1} identified res earch goals of:

      1) Conserve and enhance air, soil and water resources.
      2) Increase use of integrated, sustainable production systems.
      3) Manage ecosystems to conserve and enhance biodiversity.
      4) Recover and utilize water resource s.
    The Society for Engineering and Agricultural Food and Biological Systems in their 1 995 Research Priorities{2} identified an array of objectives under the broad themes of:
      1) Conservation of natural resources, including land, water, air and biodiversity,
      2) Renewable energy and resources from biomaterials, and
      3) Public health and safety through a wholesome and affordable food supply.
    The Northwest Area Foundation in a publication, "A Better Row To Hoe,"{ 3} suggests that agriculture needs new systems and technologies generated by research that employs whole farm analysis over a long period. They concluded that Òcurrent methodologies are designed to examine in detail specific components of larger farmin g systems rather than the complex interactions found on real farms. They went on to suggest that it is precisely these interactions that those who aspire to sustainable agriculture need to understand. They concluded it may be as difficult for scienti sts to 'convert' their methods to meet the needs of sustainable agriculture research as it is for farmers to make their farms sustainable."

    Events in academic programs throughout the country illustrate awareness of the importance of sustaina ble agricultural systems. A recent conference organized by Tufts University was entitled "Environmental Enhancement Through Agriculture. "{4} In the call for papers, some examples of environmental benefits that appropriately managed agricultural sy stems can provide were suggested. Included were:

      1) Refuges for wildlife species that survive in suitable agricultural ecosystems that are being deprived of other habitat,

      2) Watershed protection and water quality enhancement,

      3) Renewable materials as an alternative to environmentally damaging extraction of non-renewable resources, and

      4) Environmentally advantageous waste cycling.

    Clearly the interaction of agriculture in the natural ecosystem i s the focus of attention.

    Further evidence of this emphasis comes from the Task Force on "Research Innovations for Productivity and Sustainability" funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations which produced a report, "Global Research on the En vironmental and Agricultural Nexus for the 21st Century."{5} Excerpts from the draft report published by The University of Florida reflects a challenge, "...How can the need for productivity growth be reconciled with environmental sustainability, both of which are absolutely vital to the quality of human life in the long run?" In response to challenges such as this, a group of faculty at the University of Florida developed a proposal on the theme, "Developing New Strategies to Explore the Criti cal Relationships Between People and their Environment."{6} They suggest, "Not everything is equally important; not every species, not every pollutant, not every toxin. We must define priorities that can be set by thoroughly understanding the role t hat critical organisms and critical processes play in maintaining the integrity of each ecosystem. In most cases, however, the knowledge needed to guide these complex deliberations is missing..."

    Some of the knowledge often missing when address ing interdisciplinary challenges is a commonality of context. Like other movements there is debate about the meaning of concepts employed in the discourse. Carroll, Vandermeer and Rosset addressed elements of this in their book, Agroecology. {7} Em ploying an analogy of a factory they conclude, "The primary goal of the ecological study of agroecosystems is to understand that machinery." They argue "in agroecosystems one must consider not only natural perturbations but also the myriad indirect e ffects of human, economic and social activities. The stability and resilience of an agroecosystem subjected to a disruption of critical inputs are as relevant to this systems as are natural perturbations to prairies, tropical rainforests, and other natural systems." They explore a paradigm that places agricultural production in a complex web of ecological interactions.

    Understanding the interactions between food and fiber production and the natural, social and economic supporting systems is made even more difficult by the shear complexity and interconnectedness of the issues. In the September/October 1994 issue of California Agriculture,{8} Stephen Kaffka discussed conceptual issues and issues of method. He reminded us that a sys tems approach especially when addressing larger and more complex systems is more difficult to comprehend conceptually and to analyze in a quantitative manner. Definition of elements and exactly what is to be studied and understood is more demandi ng than single discipline, random treatment studies. Simultaneous change of several factors renders interpretation of treatment differences difficult. Generalization is still another problem. Can results from multifactor experiments be extrapolat ed to other combinations and practices that are analogous but not exactly the same or to other locations? What are the methods and limits of extrapolations? And so, we are challenged with not only the question of the phenomena we are trying to und erstand but also with whether there are methodology concepts and tools available to generate understanding; and finally when we have findings and products of our effort, what is the range of generalizations that can be made from the findings?

    D espite these uncertainties, George Norton from VPI in a paper entitled "Economic and Environmental Impacts of IPM."{9} emphasizes the need for increased research and education for public policy decision makers on the distribution of economic benefi ts, societal benefits and environmental values purported from IPM. He builds a solid argument for increased empirical studies as a basis to guide policy makers, farmers and the public on the adoption of practices, formulation of public policies rel ated to pest control and policies including public investments in alternative pest control systems.

    And so we are confronted with complex questions demanding more resources and requiring complex and innovative methods. We are here to examine the scope of the challenges before us with an eye to recognizing growing elements of concern within our agenda. As leaders for the food, agriculture and natural resources programs of the public Research and Education enterprise, we are here to exp lore our customers' demands for understanding the relationships between food and fiber production and the natural, social and economic systems. With any vision for change there must be a strategy for implementation. To that end we enlisted specific individuals to assist us in formulating implications for action.

    FOOTNOTES********************************
    {1} Southern Strategic Research Plan, "Research on Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, a Strategic Agenda for the Southern A griculture Experiment Stations," Department of Agricultural Communications, Texas A&M University System, December 1994.

    {2} "Research Priorities in Engineering for Agriculture 1995," The Society for Engineering and Agriculture Food and Biological Systems, St. Joseph, Missouri, 1995.

    {3} "A Better Row to Hoe," The Economic, Environmental, and Social Impact of Sustainable Agriculture; Northwest Area Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, December 1994.

    {4} Electronic Mail Message from Marion L. Clarke, Assistant Dean, Sea Grant Extension Programs, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, February 27, 1995.

    {5} "Global Research on the Environmental and Agricultural Nexus for the 21st Century," a draft report of the Task Force on Research Innovations for Productivity and Sustainability, with support by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, International Studies and Programs, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 1994.

    {6} "Ecology/Economy: Developing New Strategies to Explore Critical Relationships Between People and Their Environment," bio/Speer - a program of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; the Biotechnology Program, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 1994.

    {7} Agroecology , edited by C. R. Carroll, J. H. Vandermeer, and P. Rosset(McGraw-Hill, Incorporated, 1990).

    {8} California Agriculture, Volume 48, Number 5, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, Oakland, California, 1994.

    {9} "Economic and Environmental Impacts of IPM," by George W. Norton, Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia; presented at the American Phytopathological Society Meeting, Albuquerque, New Mexico, August 1994.


    PERSPECTIVES OF UNIVERSITY CLIENTS

    Ira H. Linville, Environmental Protection Agency
    Addressing agroecosystem concerns is a challenge that requires developing cooperative relationships and partnership s among federal and state agencies and producers. It is a challenge that can be met.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is most often recognized as a regulatory agency. Yet, for the last five or six years the agency has had a policy that "Pre vention is the option of choice." Prevention generally is more cost-effective. EPA's focus is on reducing human health and environmental risks. The challenges call for cooperation and coordination to establish priorities and address them. Research exte nsion and education efforts must go beyond pure production research and address pollution prevention that focuses on risks to human health and the environment.

    EPA is very interested and committed to protection of human health and the environment. E PA's Guiding Principles include:

    Ecosystem Protection
    Environmental Justice
    Pollution Prevention
    Strong Science and Data
    Partnerships
    Environmental Accountability

    Sustaining an economically feasible and env ironmentally safe agriculture will require total agroecosystem planning. Good technology, proper policy decisions, quality human and environmental health planning are all essential. All affect the quality of life, both individually and socially. It is for those reasons that EPA supports the agroecosystem approach.

    EPA's commitment to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and the Agriculture in Concert with the Environment programs continues. SARE/ACE project funding has been provided to support many agroecosystem-type projects throughout the United States.

    Virginia Burkett, National Biological Service
    We can accurately describe the three-fold increase in U.S. population and related land use changes that have altered much of the landscape of this continent during the twentieth century. We can also document, with somewhat lesser accuracy, dramatic changes in the distribution and abundance of many native plant and animal taxa. The business of natural resource managem ent has evolved over the past twenty years to one of managing people and mitigating or avoiding our impacts. I can no longer envision an agency hiring a deer biologist or waterfowl manager to solely conduct census of breeding pairs or planning when to op en hunting season. In addition to these types of skills, today's natural resource professional must understand habitats and ecosystems, with all of their complexities, because these have become the most limiting factors for many game and nongame animals. Similarly, the restoration of an endangered plant species cannot be accomplished without due consideration of soil health, hydrology, competition and landscape-level processes that affect factors such as seed dispersal and nutrient availability.

    A college graduate entering virtually any field of natural resource management in 2000 AD will be sorely disappointed if he or she does not have the interdisciplinary training and basic technological skills needed to function in today's working environmen t. Some specific challenges to Land Grant Universities seeking to develop students and research capabilities in "agroecosytems" include:

      1) Allow academic departments to work across disciplines to produce graduates with strong quantitative skil ls, communication skills and coursework emphasis in more than one basic science and the liberal arts.

      2) Encourage capable students to pursue advanced degrees; structure their dissertations so they can publish chapters in peer-reviewed journals; s elect topics that expose them to ecosystem-level analysis.

      3) Don't throw out the traditional excellence you've built to develop technically competent students in core biological sciences such as plant physiology and genetics.

      4) Expand t raining to produce graduates that are computer literate and proficient. Technology has profoundly improved man's ability to manage species and systems. It is technology, in large part, that has brought about the debates over "ecosystem management." We simply could not develop and process ecosystem-level information before the advent of parallel processors, computer simulation models and statistical software.

      5) Maintain capabilities to conduct both species-level and systems-level studies. Tr ain graduate students in skills used to integrate various scales and types of information to answer practical questions.

      6) Encourage students and faculty to conduct truly collaborative research; teach them how to work on an interdisciplinary tea m. Maintain a critical mass of expertise for your chosen fields of excellence.

      7) Instill in your students the organizational and professional ethics that will make them diligent employees and responsible brokers of information. Help us produce a work force that reflects the face of America.

    Garth W. Boyd, Murphy Family Farms, Inc.
    At Murphy Family Farms we must be a low cost producer to survive in a commodity business that is subject to a cyclical market of highs and lows . It is a unique challenge to remain low cost and to emerge as a champion for the environment, a business that can grow pork sustainably while protecting water and air quality, enhancing wildlife habitat and improving the quality of life for rural citize ns.

    As a frequent client of the land grant university, I need help in many areas. Examples follow:

      1) Research:
      We need research that will allow us to capture in a solid, dry form the soluble nutrients in swine effluent. Capturing and exporting nutrients from swine effluent would perhaps allow lagoonless hog farms which would be an enormous step towards solving our environmental challenges and help us achieve sustainability.

      2) Extension:
      We need extension expertise to help us determine what the optional mix of enterprises is on our farms to achieve best margins while being a good steward of the land. We don't have the time or ability to integrate the recommendations of reductionists (specialists). We need integrated team s of experts who have a common understanding to approach our problems and we need it now.

      3) Teaching:
      We need graduates who can communicate, think independently and lead people. They need to possess skills in the business, food safety, enviro nmental and social aspects of agriculture. We can provide in depth technical training in pork production.

      4) Faculty Incentives For Teamwork:
      For interdisciplinary research and extension to move forward, the faculty reward system must recognize achievement through teamwork instead of primarily individual scholarly accomplishment in a discipline, which is still the standard today.

    Bruce Batt, Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
    Maintaining the integrity of today's agriculture-dominated ecosystems requires sustainable practices that benefit the immediate and long-term interests of the farming enterprise as well as other elements of environmental quality. Wildlife conservation and agriculture have often competed for use of agricultural lands and wildlife has usually been the inevitable loser. Because of this, wildlife conservation interests have learned to work with agriculture to help sustain wildlife populations. In many areas, new partnerships are successfully sustaining the long-t erm integrity of agroecosystems while, at the same time, providing for soil, water, plant and wildlife resources.

    Ducks Unlimited has worked with farmers for most of its 58 years and has gained vast experience in improving waterfowl habitat on farmla nds in a way that is beneficial to both the landowner and to the waterfowl resource. Examples from the Skagit Valley in Washington, the Central Valley of California and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley illustrate three approaches that provide all the abov e-mentioned benefits and are sustainable because they are built upon sound ecological principles.

    The Nation's university system is challenged to provide human and technical resources for the future development of these programs. Groups like Ducks U nlimited have sophisticated technical, research, and communications capabilities but, for agricultural expertise and credibility, need support from:

      1) Practical ecologists and agronomists who are committed to working together to impact the susta inability of both farming and ecological biodiversity. These individuals should be fluent with modern technological and communication tools.

      2) Research to fully assess the agronomic values of new practices that purport to benefit wildlife and agricu lture. These studies should be done by teams from university Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resource Management.

      3) Outreach is needed through agricultural media to inform the agriculture and natural resource industries and society of mutuall y beneficial practices. These communications should be through all modern media formats to reach the largest possible breadth of societal interests.

    Gary T. Myers, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
    The way state wildlife agencies manage wildlife is changing. Emphasis has been on game species. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has a deer biologist, small game biologist, turkey biologist, furbearer biologist, waterfowl biologist, etc. The point is that state wildlife agenc ies have had internal experts working with a few species. We have done our own thing with our own people in our own state, almost game species by game species. That is changing. In the future, wildlife agencies will be attempting to manipulate habitat within huge ecosystems, in large watersheds, and even in other countries to meet the minimum needs of all wildlife, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mussels. Much of this work will occur on land we don't own or in water we don't control.

    Significant new dependable funding will be required. In Tennessee, we are working with several adjacent states to determine land ownership, present and anticipated land use, land cover, and species occurrence and distribution for entire ec osystems that stretch beyond our state border. There are 1,199 nongame species that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency must look after in this process. We can't afford to hire an expert for each species or even each species assemblage. Instead, we must utilize experts outside our agencies to provide program direction. We will do this through technical partnerships involving the best experts within a several state area without regard for who these experts work for. There will be research partner ships to monitor population responses within ecosystems and to provide management with other essential information. These partnerships will include university people. Likewise, much of what we want done must occur on land we don't own through other part nerships. And we will need to stretch dollars so there will be financial partnerships as well. With that background, state wildlife agencies will be hiring ornithologists, mammalogists, herpetologists and mallacologist who have an ability to communicate and work with teams of people from a variety of agencies, the universities, and with landowners. We will also be hiring people to put the public in viewing contact with a variety of wildlife -- watchable wildlife coordinators. We will need media produc ers, publication assistants, information and education coordinators, habitat managers, stream and aquatic biologists, a few endangered species experts, a few Spanish speaking ornithologists to work with South America and Mexico, ecosystem analysts, remot e sensing specialists, image processors and perhaps some economists to deal with socio-economic factors. We will most likely need to train some of our people so they can survey song bird populations, develop shorebird habitat, manage bats, and who knows what else. We will retain and most likely expand traditional programs during this process with traditional funding. New programs will be implemented and maintained across the country with at least $400 million or so annually in mostly new money. Progre ss will be remarkable. Ten years from now most of our constituents will be extremely pleased. And we will have formed many nonconfrontational partnerships with forest industry, agriculture and others to the extent that wildlife agencies will have broad public support for their programs.

    Sharon G. Haines, International Paper
    Forest industry's recently announced Sustainable Forestry Initiative provides another excellent framework within which university-forest industry partnerships can t hrive. Historically, university - industry research cooperatives have proven to be very productive enterprises and should continue to be in the future. With joint priority setting, research coordination, and quality control, cooperative studies allow us to leverage costs (generating the critical mass of resources needed for expensive projects), as well as to broaden the acceptance of results by multiple stakeholders. This model can also be expanded to a broader array of partners, including governmental agencies and environmental organizations. Industry also needs the credibility that university researchers can bring to bear on politically sensitive issues. Industry scientists have the technical expertise to deal with such issues but, at times, lack c redibility with some audiences. Cooperative research can provide us with basic knowledge to allow development of adaptive management strategies that balance ecological system capability with both economic realities of business and societal expectations. A key area of emphasis should be the sociological aspects of sustainable forestry.

    University extension and technology transfer efforts should target forest managers in all sectors. Industrial landowners and managers require practical applications of new knowledge. Governmental agencies need technology to improve management of public lands for which they are responsible. Environmental organizations manage their own lands and also need good science on which to base responsible advocacy. To assur e that sustainable forestry becomes a reality nationwide, practical applications of new technology are essential for nonindustrial private landowners since they own such a large amount of the forested land base. Another audience includes loggers since th ey put the landowners' plans into effect and are the operators actually leaving their imprint on the landscape. The existing Logger Education and Awareness Program is an effective model. Industry is committed to education efforts on sustainable forestr y practices in every state in which we operate. The primary audiences will be nonindustrial private landowners and loggers; university extension programs will be a critical partner in this process.

    University education programs must focus increasing ly on graduates with critical thinking skills. This is true in all areas of study, not just in natural resources. We need teachers who can analyze natural resources information and who can pass that skill along to their students. All graduates need to be able to critically analyze information to be effective in public policy debates and to participate in realistic policy and public opinion development. Additionally, natural resource professionals need a broad based educational experience (e.g., balanc e between the arts and sciences, as well as classroom and experiential learning). They must have integrative skills and be well grounded in an ecological systems framework of learning, thinking, and management.


    PERSPECTIVES OF DISCIPLINARY SCHOLARS

    Lawrence W. Libby, University Of Florida
    The only real challenges to effective agro-ecosystem teaching, research and extension programs at the land grants are the rigid boxes we create to organize things on campus. Disciplines and the academic departments for developing and delivering expertise are human constructs that can be changed if we have the will to do so. There is nothing inherently overpowering about the concept of agro-ecosystems. The average person on the street recognizes the inter-relationships between farming and the biological ecosystem. But there is inertia and vested interest in the way departments and disciplines are defined on a land grant campus. These can be difficult to overcome.

    The most limiting aspect of economics as a discipline in dealing with agro-ecosystem analysis and education is its emphasis on individual, independent, competitive action as the driving force of an economic system. Assumptions of independent utilit y functions and the notion that society is best served by unfettered self interest of individuals create challenges for effectively engaging the concept of agro-ecosystems. More attention to joint products, mutuality, cooperation and inter-dependence in economic behavior is essential. Economists need more attention to how people really behave rather than reliance on the behavioral assumptions of conventional economic theory. Ecosystems are interactive, where actions of one part affect others. People u sing or engaging that ecosystem for enhancement of human well-being must understand and accept interacting parts and mutuality of result.

    Perhaps the best place for the land grants to start is with curriculum development. The need to rationalize, de velop and offer a curriculum on sustainable agriculture or agro-ecosystem management would bring the disciplines together.

    We should build on successful examples of agro-ecosystem management. Some farmers are already successful with such systems and they should be studied.

    Finally, we in the land grants must not allow ourselves to be bullied by those who say that farmers should be able to do whatever they want with their resources. We should not see an obligation to defend conventional product ion systems or the myth that a farmer or anyone else is an independent user of resources. We know better and must be willing to say so.

    Ronald C. Wimberley, North Carolina State University
    Policy is a social agenda. In a society of mor e consumers and fewer producers, the nation's food, fiber, natural resource, environmental, and rural human resource policy becomes essential for national and international sustainability. There are three types of agricultural, or sustainability, policy. Type I deals with the interests of society, Type II with the agricultural sector, and Type III with rural people and places. Social, agricultural, and rural objectives are interdependent. We need all three policy types to be sustainable.

    Rural areas contain the natural, environmental, and human resources essential for the agriculture sector and the larger society. Our nation has a record 62 million rural people. But only one of 15 rural people lives on a farm. The South contains 35 percent of the U.S. population, 40 percent of the farms, and 44 percent of the rural population. The South also contains a large natural and agricultural resource base.

    These factors--in combination with the three policy types--have important implications for the South's Land-Grant University research, academic, and extension programs. One contemporary mission of the Land-Grants is also a traditional one. This is to serve agriculture. Another mission, to serve rural people, has differentiated from agri culture, and needs a contemporary redirection. A third mission is address natural resource issues in addition to agricultural resources. A newer, fourth mission is environmental matters. The fifth is to serve consumers of agricultural, rural, natural, and environmental resources.

    Land-Grant programs provide a common ground for agricultural, rural, and social sustainability. The agricultural mission draws primarily on Type II policy. Rural uses Type III. Natural resources, the environment, and consumers involve Type I.

    To serve their traditional agricultural and rural constituents, as well as those of the larger society, Land-Grant Universities must renew their mission to modern agriculture, redirect their mission to high numbers of rur al constituents, and expand into natural resource, environmental, and consumer concerns through all three policy types.

    W. L. Hargrove, University of Georgia
    To understand the issues of sustainability, we must understand the relations hips between agricultural activities and non-agricultural areas in the landscape. Thus, there is a need for agricultural scientists to "scale up" in their endeavors to address such issues as agricultural impact on environmental quality, preservation of b iodiversity, and quality of life in rural communities. In the past, agricultural scientists have conducted experimental work at the field level and extrapolated to larger scales using models. However, this approach is questionable. There is a need to c onduct research at an ecosystem level, to take a more holistic approach to problem solving, to work in interdisciplinary teams, to better integrate research, education, and extension, and to engage new and different clientele into forming new partnerships that include more stakeholders than just the traditional farm and agribusiness community.

    These needs pose several formidable challenges to agricultural scientists:

      1) Agricultural scientists are accustomed to operating at scales of roughly from the test tube to replicated field plots, and occasionally up to the field level. There is a need to scale up to the whole farm, watershed, and landscape levels, but we do not have a conceptual framework. For the most part, agricultural scientists work in a reductionist mode, focussing on the individual parts of the larger system rather than on the relationships within the larger landscape. However, agricultural scientists generally do not have the methodological tools to meet these needs. For ex ample, such large scale studies are difficult or impossible to replicate; we need appropriate statistical tools.

      2) To most agricultural scientists, "interdisciplinary" means involving other disciplines within agriculture. There is a need to reach ou t to social and ecological sciences. We need to be working in teams, but there are few or no rewards for team work. Administrative structures and disciplinary organization often discourage interdisciplinary teams.

      3) Similarly, the reward system (te nure) and organizational structure of most Land Grant Universities do not facilitate integration of research, teaching, and extension.

      4) Non-traditional stakeholders, such as environmental groups, citizen advocacy groups, and others, are often viewed as "the enemy" and not as potential partners.

    What can we do?
      1) Our curriculum needs to include appropriate methodological tools, including ecological research methods, GIS, remote sensing, and others.

      2) Appropriate rewards for interdisciplinary teamwork need to be in place.

      3) Administrative structures need to be reconsidered; there must be structures to foster and reward interdisciplinary research, problem solving, and education.

      4) Stakeholders, other than our tradit ional clientele, need to be included in new partnerships.

      5) Administrative commitment will be required.

    John M. Sweeten, Texas A&M University System
    Issue-based Extension programming at Texas A&M University has included wat er quality and conservation, which has addressed through Initiative Teams water use efficiency in agriculture, residences and municipalities and water quality management. These programs have addressed irrigation water management, rangelands and pastures, agricultural chemicals (nutrients and pesticides), domestic and community water systems, waste management (community and agricultural wastes), and water policy.

    The success of research and extension programs in water quality management and water u se efficiency and the level of producer participants in adoption of sound practices will have a lot to do with the direction the nation's water policy will take; whether voluntary or regulatory. The USDA Water Quality Initiative which formally links to gether the efforts of Extension Service, Experiment Station, USDA-NRCS and USDA-FSA has created an excellent climate for progress in the direction of voluntary/producer- driven approach to water quality management. This linkage and methodology needs to b e preserved and enhanced by USDA amid all the restructuring and policy changes underway.

    Impediments to substantial progress at land grant universities in the area of water quality and water conservation management are similar to those faced on oth er topics covered at this conference. For instance, interdisciplinary work needs to be expanded; internal support or rewards are needed for interdisciplinary/ interagency collaboration; realistic systems approaches need to be embraced; and a rene wed focus needs to be placed on the producer. In gaining a generally greater/renewed focus by campus-based faculty on producers and "customer service," perhaps less energy and emphasis is needed on internal relationships and impediments that may hav e made us more efficient perhaps, and more emphasis needs to be placed on making us more effective in advancing environmentally-sustainable agricultural production and processing, with people living in environmentally secure surroundings.

    I believe our unique opportunity at land grant universities, in the environmental quality arena, is be leaders in integrating science with policy, and conversely policy with good science. That is part of society's and producers' expectation, and is the source of c onsiderable patience and resources they have invested with us.

    R.E. Stinner, North Carolina State University
    Agroecosystems by definition, are themselves integrated into complex webs of cause and effect. If we are to be true managers of such systems, we must develop methodologies for integrating our information sources and providing this information to growers and consultants in ways which are internally consistent. New, electronic technologies now make possible the integration of info rmation necessary for grower decisions based on correct problem identification, complete option descriptions, combined with current pest predictions, weather and market data. The Internet and World Wide Web now make possible access to and integration of multidisciplinary crop production information, with the National IPM Network (URL http://ipm.www.ncsu.edu), an advanced and innovative example of what can be done.
     
     


    SYNTHESIS OF WORKSHOP RESULTS

    Peter T. Bromley and J. Theodore Morris, North Carolina State University

    To facilitate intensive discussion, the conference participants were split into eight smaller groups each addressing one question. Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) procedures were employed through the use of affinity diagrams. The affinity diagram approach is used to enable teams to quickly generate large numbers of ideas and then group them into natural categories which can be better understood and acted upon to solve problems. These tech niques encourage creativity in all participants, reduce communication barriers and install a sense of ownership in the resulting recommendations.

    Challenges:

    • What are the barriers to communication about ecosystem concerns between clients and the Land Grant University system?
    • What are the barriers to interdisciplinary teamwork and cooperation?
    • How can resources be better allocated to more effectively serve ecosystem client needs and expectations?
    • How can the un iversity best prepare its students to address agroecosystem issues?
    Responses:
    • The agroecosystem challenge can only be addressed by interdisciplinary efforts, which provide for partnerships with agencies and organizations outside the university system.
    • Interdisciplinary work will require teamwork not only among research faculty but also across the roles of instruction and extension.
    • Administrators must encourage teamwork across units, departments, external a dvisors, agencies and other universities. To do so will involve developing flexible structures to deal with emerging issues with focus on the campus and outreach programs. Faculty should be rewarded, not penalized, for work with other disciplines. Reward systems will have to be modified to recognize that faculty involved in interdisciplinary work may publish fewer senior-authored papers.
    • The university can take the leadership role by training students broadly in biology and ecology while offering special programs in agroecosystem issues/topics as electives or even as required courses for some majors.
    These summary statements indicate several powerful conclusions. Clearly, the agroecosystem issue can not be resolved by any one or a few specialized disciplines. Unfortunately, current structures in place throughout departments and the entire university serve to discourage work between specialists from different disciplines. To become a more adaptable and responsive entity, bureaucratic barriers must be removed to create a "seamless" organization. The distinctions between administration, instruction, research and extension must fade as all work to meet common goals through diverse functions. Among these goals are to address major questions posed by agroecosystems and to prepare those who will follow us to take up where we must inevitably leave off.


    SUMMARY REMARKS BY ADMINISTRATORS

    D. F. Bateman, North Carolina State University
    In the climate of the vast technological changes taking place in modern agriculture, the faculty of land grant universities can glean rewards that are not limited to financial compensation. Faculty who establish themselves as importa nt liaisons between the population's needs for abundant food and society's demands for environmental conservation can enjoy intrinsic rewards such as:
      1. the opportunity to contribute to their area of science or specialization
      2. the opport unity to contribute to the knowledge base of students or clientele
      3. the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of society
      4. the opportunity to do the above in an environment where colleagues understand and contribute together to the br oader missions and goals of his or her department and college.
    This career satisfaction is key to the success of our work, because the challenges facing our faculty and research scientists are manifold. As a result of modern technology a nd sociological changes, "farming" has evolved from subsistence agriculture to a vast, integrated modern industry where less than two percent of our population produce the raw products that feed the rest. Despite our basic, universal need for food and sh elter, only 20 percent of our workforce is directly or indirectly involved with the production, processing and distribution of food and fiber. Most of our people today do not understand how and why they are enjoying abundant, safe, inexpensive food and fiber. The situation is further complicated by the fact that our society has recognized the need to preserve our natural resources, despite the pressures that an increasing world population has placed on our lands and our water supply.

    Our agricultu ral system should be regarded as the interface between our natural resource base and human society. High yield sustainable agriculture, that promotes profitability in an environmentally benign way, is the key to successfully meeting the challenges of the future.

    We must foster an informative, holistic approach to actively inform the public about our part as liaison between the people who produce our food and the society that seeks to protect our natural resources.

    To help accomplish that, we m ust encourage and reward our faculty who show leadership and collaboration to bring about these necessary changes and enlighten our students, our public and our policy makers.

    Richard L. Jones, University of Florida
    My remarks represent a combination of what I have heard from the featured presenters over the past two days as well as my personal thoughts about the topic. As I listened, one of the first things to become evident is the importance of clear definitions of the terms we are us ing. Even the term, agroecosystem, has not been distinctly defined. In my view, it refers to an agricultural community/environment as an ecosystem. To others, it might refer to a national ecosystem as impacted by agricultural activities. However, as D r. Werner pointed out, we tend to use the term, ecosystem, very casually. It is used often when more proper terms would be ecotype, community, habitat or other ecological terms. The word, agroecology, has been used also without appropriate definition. Clearly, we must have a common terminology to communicate and discuss these issues effectively.

    Another area needing clarity is that of goals. The agroecosystem train has left the station, but I don't think we know where we are going. We agree on t he need for sustainability, but as noted by Dr. Wimberly, sustainability to whom? Are we in pursuit of restoration to some previous condition, to a stability that maintains the status quo, to a natural evolution that disallows the impact of humans or to an evolution that includes human activities? The answer to this question is likely to be complex and to vary across agroecosystems.

    The issue of biodiversity is strongly linked to our answers here. For example, we tend to speak of preservation of b iodiversity, but is this the same as preservation of each species? If so, this speaks for a stable ecosystem goal.

    No matter which goals we pursue, approaches that consider the entire system are essential. As measured by complexity, the word system is a relative term. Both the cotton gin and the human body are systems, but the degree of complexity varies enormously. Our reductionist methodologies, that are ideal to take apart and understand systems, have not moved us forward as rapidly as we woul d wish. We may never have the resources, human or physical, to fully comprehend or explain all components and interactions of our most complex systems. The human body is a good example. In spite of massive research efforts, we still lack complete under standing of human nutrition and the effects of many food components. However, the "system" is all important. Nothing makes this clearer than the research that shows broccoli to be laced with carcinogens - as determined when tested separately in common c arcinogenicity tests - but yet to show positive effects in the reduction of cancer risks when included in the diet.

    Clearly, holistic approaches are needed and holistic methodologies must be devised, learned and used. We just don't have the time and resources to take the system apart to understand it completely.

    This is not to negate the tremendous progress we have made with our methodologies. We know a lot about simple effects, but this knowledge always carries the caveat, "under these condit ions." Since ecosystems are living and dynamic, and since abiotic conditions also change (witness our never ending record setting with respect to weather), things are never the same. To quote an Indian proverb, "One cannot step twice into the same river ."

    Our real need is the ability to predict effects. In the absence of complete understandings of systems, holistic approaches are needed. There are a number of important elements of such approaches. The first of these is the use of interdisciplina ry teams. The term, interdisciplinary, is also a relative one. In agriculture, we tend to have our own special versions of the various academic disciplines, including ecologists, biochemists, microbiologists, etc. We must stretch our vision in this reg ard. This means reaching out to pull in faculty that have been more classically trained in other disciplines. We should keep in mind that some of the greatest advances in science have come from scientists who have switched disciplines. For example, a p hysicist moving to biochemistry, or in the case of Norman Borlaug, a forester/pathologist moving to wheat breeding. This strategy has been successful because it brings a new paradigm to a science or to a problem. One is able to ask naive questions. It is these same characteristics that give interdisciplinary efforts a tremendous synergism.

    I heard a college president propose once that he would really like to reshuffle the faculty across departments every five years. While probably not practical, such a notion would produce many new relationships and approaches to issues, the results of which might be surprisingly positive.

    There is a need to maximize the opportunities for intellectual exchange among the faculty. We should promote more forum s that bring together speakers from various disciplines. This calls for better time management by departments and colleges. We are inundated with specialized seminars sponsored by centers, departments, graduate students, etc. We must set aside time and sponsor more "holistic" interdepartmental programs to stimulate discussion of approaches to complex issues. These approaches must also integrate the teaching, research and extension functions.

    Successful holistic approaches can benefit from several techniques. Modeling is one of the more important of these. Trend, gradient and multivariate analysis are important also. We need to pursue and adopt new statistical methods. This probably involves a more aggressive effort to incorporate statistician s into our research planning.

    Much can be learned from real models as well. Everything from "micromodels" such as a small aquarium to simulate components of an ecosystem, to large scale "macromodels," such as the Waterways Experiment Station in Miss issippi, have been used successfully.

    We must also modify our reward systems for faculty. This includes positive rewards for teamwork and for reaching team goals. We should think of ways to balance "peer rewards" where they run counter to the missi on and goals of our organization. We must give our faculty permission to fail and challenge them to adopt bold objectives and goals. Strict management by objective often results in very conservative objectives being written.

    We must also involve ou r users, and not just involve them, but give them a strong voice and a stake in the program. The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, for example, has used this approach and to date, it is very successful. Selection of projects, awards of fu nding and progress evaluation is made by a Board of Directors dominated by non-university constituents. On-farm research and farmer involvement are key components to this success.

    Another area for rethinking is that of publications. We need to reem phasize the importance of publishing results in the media most appropriate to reach the intended audience. To do this, we must link credit and publication rewards to goals and objectives of the research. Refereed publications are important, but they are not always the most appropriate outlet for results.

    We should also remember the axiom of strength in diversity. This is not only true of species, and corporate stocks, but it is important for disciplines, attitudes and beliefs, as well as for trait s of gender and ethnic origin. The more diverse our faculty and staff, the stronger will be our teams.

    In summary, the key to effective research and extension efforts in agroecosystems is a holistic, systems approach. I hope I have highlighted some of the important elements of such an approach.


    CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS

      John R. Anderson, Jr., North Carolina State University
      William Allen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
      Jeff Arm strong, North Carolina State University
      O.W. Barnett, North Carolina State University
      Durward F. Bateman, North Carolina State University
      Bruce D.J Batt, Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
      A. Beale, University of Puerto Rico
      Toni Bland, Southern Re gion, Agricultural Experiment Station Directors
      Garth W. Boyd, Murphy Family Farms, Inc.
      Peter T. Bromley, North Carolina State University
      Virginia Burkett, National Biological Service
      Neville P. Clarke, Southern Region, Agricultural Exper iment Station Directors
      D.C. Coston, Clemson University
      Elwyn Deal, Clemson University
      Ellen Devlin, North Carolina State University
      Dan O. Ezell, Clemson University
      James J. Ferguson, University of Florida
      James R. Fischer, Clemso n University
      Lowell T. Frobish, Auburn University
      Si Garber, North Carolina State University
      Daniel D. Godfrey, North Carolina A&T University
      G. Jay Gouge, Clemson University
      Sharon Haines, International Paper, Inc.
      John R. Hall, I II, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
      William L. Hargrove, University of Georgia
      James D. Harper, North Carolina State University
      Harold Heatwole, North Carolina State University
      Tom J. Helms, Mississippi State University
      Edwin J. Jones, North Carolina State University
      Richard L. Jones, University of Florida
      Bryan H. Johnson, Texas A&M
      C. Wayne Jordan, University of Georgia
      Fred Knapp, University of Kentucky
      David Knauft, North Carolina State Unive rsity
      Larry Libby, University of Florida
      Ira Linville, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
      Aubrey Mendonca, North Carolina A&T University
      G. Wallace Morgan, Mississippi State University
      J. Theodore Morris, North Carolina State Univers ity
      Gary T. Myers, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
      J. Paul Mueller, North Carolina State University
      Rich Noble, North Carolina State University
      James L. Oblinger, North Carolina State University
      Jack Odle, Progressive Farmer Magazi ne
      Mitch Owen, North Carolina State University
      A. Pantoja, University of Puerto Rico
      Katie Perry, North Carolina State University
      William E. Palmer, North Carolina State University
      Charles A. Panton, North Carolina A&T University
      D ixie Watts Reaves, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
      M.R. Reddy, North Carolina A&T University
      Don Richardson, University of Tennessee
      Marc Risse
      Ed Runge, Texas A&M University
      James W. Smith
      Ron Stinner, North C arolina State University
      Jean Steiner, USDA/ARS, Watkinsville, Georgia
      John M. Sweeten, Texas A&M, University
      Daniel Thomas, University of Georgia
      Robert Tyson
      Robert A. Voitle, Auburn University
      Margaret J. Weber, Oklahoma State University
      Pat Werner, University of Florida
      L. George Wilson, North Carolina State University
      Ron C. Wimberley, North Carolina State University
      John T. Woeste, University of Florida
      Johnny Wynne, North Carolina State University
      J oe Zublena, North Carolina State University


      Updated 10-27-95

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