Farm Practices & Management
Genetically engineered (GE) seed varieties were commercially introduced in 1996. Adoption rates for these crops increased rapidly in the years that followed. Currently, over 90 percent of U.S. corn, upland cotton, soybeans, canola, and sugarbeets are produced using GE varieties. ERS conducts research on a number of agricultural biotechnology issues, which are covered in this topic.
Fertilizers & Pesticides
ERS evaluates the influence of rising energy costs and crop prices on fertilizer prices, nutrient supply, and consumption. ERS research also examines factors influencing volatile fertilizer markets and farmers' strategies to manage nutrient use under price uncertainty. ERS evaluates factors driving trends in the use and composition of pesticides in the United States. Changing relative prices of inputs, trends in the extent and location of crop production, use of biotechnology, adoption of organic systems, pest invasions, and climate change all contribute to changes in pesticide use.
Crop & Livestock Practices
ERS analyzes trends in the adoption of a range of crop and livestock production practices and their effectiveness in reducing costs, increasing farming profitability, minimizing losses to the environment, and conserving natural resources.
Irrigation & Water Use
Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the Nation's consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States. Efficient irrigation systems and water management practices can help maintain farm profitability in an era of increasingly limited and more costly water supplies.
Uncertainty in prices, yields, government policies, and foreign markets means that risk management plays an important role in many farm business decisions.