Some key practical issues in improving the economic impact of farming systems research are examined. Following some general background on how such research evolved, these issues are treated with respect to its three main stages. With the ex ante stage the needs of securing representativeness of the target area and of benchmarking the wider initial situation, including economic, social and agroclimatic features, are emphasized. With the ongoing stage, the importance of using suitable partial budgeting techniques is stressed. With the ex post stage, an assessment of wider technological and economic effects is called for, together with the identification of enabling factors and constraints in technological progress. The adjustment of the farming systems research process itself is finally considered, and the desirability of simplifying the process, further training junior field-level researchers and securing better interaction between workers at the various research levels, is highlighted.