Strategic foresight is systematic means to explore plausible futures. In the agricultural context, strategic foresight allows decision-makers to explore how alternative investments in agriculture research may function given anticipated futures associated with a variety of drivers ranging from climate change to increasing wealth to a changing policy environment. This paper presents an overview and context for six recently published articles in Global Food Security that comprise a virtual special issue on agricultural futures. Each of the papers takes a distinct perspective and addresses key issues from how past trends drive future outcomes to specific commodity systems to issues around employment and rural transformation. While each of the included papers stands on its own merits, the collection presents a unique opportunity to unpack the role of investment in agriculture research from a variety of perspectives. Collectively, the special issue offers insights to support current and future investment planning to better target desired outcomes associated with long-term agricultural research.