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Crops

Crops Highlights

This page will give you information about environmental requirements specifically relating to the production of many types of agricultural crops, including:

To learn more about crop production online, please visit Ag 101. This introduction to American agriculture covers the primary commodities produced today and the methods of doing so. An entire chapter is dedicated to crop production, and includes such topics as: soil preparation, planting, nutrient management, pest management, and harvesting.

There are several environmental concerns associated with the production of agricultural crops.

More information from EPA
Crop Grouping Final Rule: Easing Regulatory Burdens and Expanding Opportunities for Minor Crop Producers (Technical Amendment Update)
EPA's final revision to its pesticide tolerance crop grouping regulations, allowing the establishment of tolerances (maximum residue levels) for multiple, related crops based upon data from a representative set of crops.
National Homeland Security Research Center
The National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC) develops and delivers reliable, responsive expertise and products based on scientific research and evaluations of technology. Our expertise and products are widely used to prevent, prepare for, and recover from public health and environmental emergencies arising from terrorist threats and incidents.

WaterSense: Certification Programs for Irrigation Professionals (PDF) (1 pg, 165K, About PDF)
WaterSense began labeling certification programs for irrigation professionals that include water-efficient principles and practices.
Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture and Forestry

More information from the states
EZregs Exit EPA - University of Illinois Extension Web site that identifies environmental regulations that pertain to specific agricultural and horticultural operations and practices in Illinois.

More information from USDA
MultiCalculator
A set of three Excel spreadsheets that calculate irrigation needs, ethanol yields, and crop yields from USDA's ARS.


Facts and Figures

Establishments that produce crops are classified in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code 111 (Crop Production).  In 2012, 342,708 establishments were listed under NAICS Code 111.

The amount of U.S. crop sales in 2011 totaled $208.3 billion. Feed crops (corn, sorghum, oats, and barley (grown for feed) were the highest value commodity, with receipts totaling $72.7 billion. The lowest commodity sales were from rice, peanuts, hay, and barley, oats and sorghum (not feed), whose combined cash receipts totaled $12.7 billion.

For the period of the years 2002 through 2011, U.S. farmers produced an average of $144 billion worth of crops.

Source:
U.S. USDA. Economic Research Service. U.S. Farm Sector Crop Cash Receipts and Value of Production, 2009-2013F. N.p., 11 Feb. 2013. Web. <http://www.ers.usda.gov/dataFiles/Farm_Income/US_Farm_Income_and_Wealth_Statistics_includes_the_US_Farm_Income_Forecast_2013/Cr_VOP_Crops.pdf>.

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Alternatives to Methyl Bromide

Case studies illustrate the fact that materials do exist which can manage pests where methyl bromide is now used. The alternative materials and methods discussed here are not intended to be complete replacements for methyl bromide, but tools which are effective on the pests that are currently controlled by this pesticide.

More information from EPA
Methyl Bromide
Time-Limited Registration of Iodomethane (Methyl Iodide)
Methyl Bromide Alternatives

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Managing Non-Point-Source Pollution in Coastal Waters

EPA specifies management measures to protect coastal waters from food and feed agriculture sources of non-point pollution.

Management Measures
"Management measures" are defined in section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 (CZARA) as economically achievable measures to control the addition of pollutants to our coastal waters, which reflect the greatest degree of pollutant reduction achievable through the application of the best available non-point pollution control practices, technologies, processes, siting criteria, operating methods, or other alternatives.

These management measures will be incorporated by States into their coastal nonpoint programs, which under CZARA are to provide for the implementation of management measures that are "in conformity" with this guidance. Under CZARA, States are subject to a number of requirements as they develop and implement their Coastal Non-point Pollution Control Programs in conformity with this guidance and will have some flexibility in doing so.

Management Practices
In addition to specifying management measures, EPA also lists and describes management practices for illustrative purposes only. While State programs are required to specify management measures in conformity with this guidance, State programs need not specify or require implementation of the particular management practices described by EPA. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measures generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the site, location, type of operation, and climate. The practices have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully to achieve the management measures. EPA has also used some of these practices, or appropriate combinations of these practices, as a basis for estimating the effectiveness, costs, and economic impacts of achieving the management measures.

More information from EPA

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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture

Potential impacts of climate change on agriculture will be reflected most directly through the response of crops, livestock, soils, weeds, and insects, and diseases to the elements of climate to which they are most sensitive. Soil moisture and temperature are the climate factors likely to be most sensitive to change across large agricultural areas of North America.

More information from EPA
Climate Change - Agriculture and Food Supply

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Erosion Control

Erosion control practices are necessary for agricultural operations to control runoff and reduce the amount of soil erosion caused by that runoff. In areas with good drainage, crops are better able to use nutrients and chemicals and will benefit from these optimum growing conditions. When building erosion control structures, newly-graded soil surfaces may be stabilized with mulch prior to the establishment of a vegetative cover.

To establish good drainage, one or a combination of drainage and erosion control structures can be built and used depending on the site characteristics (e.g., slope, crop type, or climate). These structures include:

Related publications from the Ag Center
Agriculture Industry Profiles - Sector Notebooks

More information from EPA
GreenScapes - provides cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solutions for large-scale landscaping.
GreenScaping for Homeowners: The Easy Way to a Greener, Healthier Yard - GreenScaping encompasses a set of landscaping practices that can improve the health and appearance of your lawn and garden while protecting and preserving natural resources.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing - a federal-wide program that encourages and assists Executive agencies in the purchasing of environmentally preferable products and services.

More information from USDA
Assessments to Reduce Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nonpoint Source Pollution of Iowa's Surface Waters

More information from Universities Exit EPA
A Farmer's Guide To Agriculture and Water Quality Issues - Erosion and Sediment Control - an educational resource for agricultural producers and agricultural service professionals

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State Information

Idaho One Plan Exit EPA
An innovative approach to conservation planning that enables farmers and ranchers in Idaho to identify and address multiple environmental agency requirements while ensuring a viable and sustainable approach.

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This page is sponsored by EPA's Ag Center. Ag Center logo


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