Addressing the Sustainability of Agriculture

Because there has been growing apprehension about the long-term health of conventional agriculture, many farmers and consumers are looking at alternative systems, such as organic, integrated, and conservation agriculture, to make agriculture more sustainable. Dr. John P. Reganold’s farming systems research measures the effects of alternative and conventional farming on sustainability indicators: soil health, crop quality, financial performance, environmental quality, and social responsibility. He has successfully conducted his sustainability research on more than 100 farms on five continents.

Dr. Reganold has assembled transdisciplinary teams, representing soil science, horticulture, agronomy, food science, economics,entomology, plant pathology, sociology, molecular biology, and statistics, to pool their skills in assessing the sustainability of different farming systems. Using his on-farm methodology, Reganold’s teams have been able to answer the following question:  Can alternative systems be as or more sustainable than their conventional counterparts?  His research has shown that organic, biodynamic, and integrated farming systems are not only more sustainable, but that their practices can mitigate some of the hazardous effects of conventional agriculture on the environment.

Reganold’s research contributions in farming systems research have been novel, pioneering, and creative. His work has laid a strong foundation for sustainable agriculture research, as measured by the number of times his peers have cited his publications. Literally hundreds of newspapers, many science magazines, and numerous radio and TV stations have featured articles or reports about his research. Dr. Reganold’s on-farm studies have created some of the largest published data sets on alternative and conventional agricultural systems. Such large data sets have had a significant impact on U.S. public policy and farm bills, creating major policy incentives to reduce the use of chemicals in the production of the nation’s food.

Related Pages:

Dr. John P. Reganold’s career was shaped by his interest in environmental soil science. He earned his  B.A. (1971) in German and M.S. (1974) in Soil Science at the University of California  at Berkeley and a Ph.D. (1980) in Soil Science at University of California at Davis. He worked for two years as a soil  scientist with the U.S.D.A. Natural Resource  Conservation Service and for three years as an environmental engineer with Utah  International, Inc., a mining company. He joined Washington State University in 1983 and is currently Regents Professor of Soil Science. He is considered one of the founding and premier scientists in the world in sustainable and organic agricultural research, as evidenced by his more than 200 scientific publications, some of which have been published in ScienceNature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)Scientific American, and other land-use and soil science journals.  Dr. Reganold is co-author of four editions of a textbook titled Natural Resource Conservation: Toward a sustainable Future and co-editor of the book, Organic Agriculture: A Global Perspective.  Dr. Reganold has been principal or co-principle investigator on research and teaching grants and awards worth almost $19 million in a research area that has historically had little extramural funding.

Contact Information

Dr. John P. Reganold, Ph.D.
Regents Professor of Soil Science & Agroecology
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences

Washington State University
PO Box 646420
337 Clark Hall
Pullman WA 99164-6420

Telephone: 509-335-8856
Fax: 509-335-8674