From domestication and breeding to the genetic engineering of crops, plants provide food, fuel, fibers, and feedstocks for our civilization. New research and discoveries aim to reduce the inputs needed to grow crops and to develop plants for environmental and sustainability applications. Faced with population growth and changing climate, the next wave of innovation in plant biology integrates technologies and approaches that span from molecular to ecosystem scales. Recent efforts to engineer plants for better nitrogen and phosphorus use, enhanced carbon fixation, and environmental remediation and to understand plant-microbiome interactions showcase exciting future directions for translational plant biology. These advances promise new strategies for the reduction of inputs to limit environmental impacts and improve agricultural sustainability.