Sustainable agricultural research and education have gained acceptability within the land-grant system, but they still must be fully integrated into its fabric. Challenges remain in three key areas: knowledge generation, research and education, and funding. New biological and ecological knowledge is needed on plant-animal-human-environment interactions from the microbial level on upward so that we can move beyond anecdotal evidence of biological integration efficiencies to scientific understanding of the underlying processes and opportunities for human intervention. Socioeconomic research must address human motivations to change farming methods and the likely impacts of these changes on farmers, consumers, other species, and the quality of the environment.
Generating this knowledge will affect the integration of research and education. Having farmers set the research and outreach agenda dissolves the old distinction between research and extension. This situation is complicated by budgetary stress and uncertainty about the dividing line between public and private responsibilities. The funding of sustainableagriculture creates a dilemma. Earmarked funding has helped legitimize sustainable agriculture in the land-grant university, but if it fails to become integrated into the routine land-grant research and education agenda, it will lose its newly gained momentum in the event those funds disappear.