Multidisciplinary approaches are being attempted by agricultural research units along with their traditional single discipline approaches. Although single discipline research will still be needed, multidisciplinary approaches present special advantages.
The potential value of multidisciplinary approaches to sustainable agriculture research will be viewed differently by researchers with different perspectives. The participants in this symposium, all of whom were experienced sustainable agriculture researchers, identified five areas as keys for success. First, to capitalize fully on the opportunities it provides, there must be a justification for using a multidisciplinary approach for the specific research topic; while some projects work best with a multidisciplinary approach, others are best done within a single discipline. Second, everyone involved, including administrators, must invest time and money to establish communication between the disciplines. Third, careful attention must be given to forming and operating multidisciplinary teams effectively so that they generate shared benefits. Fourth, new sources of research funds will become available as agencies adopt multidisciplinary approaches, and revised systems will be required to administer those funds at the university or research unit level. Finally, major adjustments in the present systems for promotion, tenure and publication are necessary to properly measure and distribute credit.