Advancing knowledge and practice on economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable agricultural systems in urbanized landscapes.


Agricultural systems located in metropolitan counties and in non-metropolitan counties adjacent to metro areas are vital to the sustainability of agriculture. More than 60% of net farm income in the United States in 2017 came from these urbanized landscapes and, in Pennsylvania, it was 93%. Communities and consumers in urbanized landscapes value agriculture for locally produced foods, open space and scenery amenities, recreational opportunities such as agritourism, and wildlife habitats. However, the sustainability of agricultural systems in urbanized landscapes is threatened by intensifying competition for land, labor, and water from urban growth and sprawl, and by water pollution, livestock odors, pests, and dust from agricultural activities.

Compared to more rural areas, agricultural systems in urbanized landscapes are characterized by higher rates of land use change, relatively high land values, higher value agricultural products, a more diverse mix of crop and livestock products, more intensive production practices, products destined more for local and regional consumption than distant markets, and better infrastructure, but often sparser networks of input suppliers and food processors. Zoning and other land use regulations, farmland preservation policies, and environmental policies also play a greater role in urbanized landscapes.

The research, education, outreach, and extension on this Critical Issue Initiative are proceeding with close stakeholder engagement using a shared discovery and co-learning process. This stakeholder engagement is designed to create a bridge between research and practical application by improving research relevance and stakeholder knowledge and practices.


Dave Abler, Ph.D.
Professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics and Demography
Agribusiness Management Program Coordinator

Associated Members


Cibin Raj*
Assistant Professor, Agricultural & Biological Engineering

Patrick Drohan
Associate Professor, Pedology

Margaret Hoffman*
Assistant Professor, Landscape Contracting

Matthew Royer
Assistant Research Professor, Director Agriculture & Environment Center

Josephine Wee*
Assistant Professor, Food Science


Flor Acevedo
Assistant Professor,  Entomology/Arthropod ecology

Natalie Boyle
Assistant Research Professor

Elizabeth Boyer
Professor, Water Resources

Danny Brent
Assistant Professor, Environmental Economics 

Eric Burkhart*
Associate Teaching Professor, Ecosystem Science and Management

Anil Kumar Chaudhary*
Assistant Professor, Agricultural & Extension Education

Francesco Di Gioia
Assistant Professor, Vegetable Crop Science

Jill Felker
Lecturer, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Long He*
Assistant Professor,  Agricultural & Biological Engineering

Sara Hermann*
Assistant Professor,  Arthropod Ecology & Trophic Interactions

Michael Mashtare*
Assistant Professor, Agricultural & Biological Engineering

Related Penn State Projects

  • Thriving Agricultural Systems in Urbanized Landscapes:

Related College of Agricultural Sciences Research Impact Areas