Meeting the Global Sustainable Development Goals on a Changing Planet with Limited Land and Water Resources

Getting started

Assessing the Long Run Sustainability of US Agriculture



This project "assessing the long run sustainability of US agriculture in an integrated global economy" is funded by USDA/AFRI, 2016-2018.

USDA Program Area: Food Security
Priority Area: National Strategy for Sustainable Crop and Livestock Production in the United States Program Area Priority Code – A5162

Project Director: 

Thomas W. Hertel, Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University

Co-Principal Investigators:

Laura Bowling, Associate Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University
Chris Kucharik, Associate Professor of Agronomy & Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin
Navin Ramankutty, Professor in the Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia

Collaborating Investigators:

Sylvie Brouder, Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University
Jeffrey Volenec, Professor of Agronomy,  Purdue University
Carol Song, Senior Scientist, Research Computing, Purdue University


This USDA/AFRI funded project focuses on long run sustainability of US agriculture using the GLG methodology. It integrates gridded biophysical and economic data and parameters into the SIMPLE-G modeling framework in order to examine tradeoffs between: 1) crop production, prices and food consumption, 2) land use and associated carbon dioxide emissions, 3) groundwater depletion, and 4) nitrate leaching and water quality.

Major challenges

  • Continued rapid increase in world population leading to substantial rise in demand for agricultural production
  • Increased use of nitrogen fertilizer has led to a serious leaching problem in the US Corn Belt and has contributed to ‘dead zones’ in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Water, a key input into agricultural production, rapidly diminishing in availability in many parts of the world, and there are significant areas of irrigated crop production relying on groundwater aquifers which are being depleted
  • Slowing crop yield growth, compounded by industrial demand (bioenergy) has further contributed to these challenges

Our approach

Utilize a US-focused version of SIMPLE-G to examine the tradeoffs between:

  • crop production, prices and food consumption
  • land use and associated carbon dioxide emissions
  • groundwater depletion, and  nitrogen losses