Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge & Technology to Feed the World
There are many articles that estimate the population of the Earth to be approximately 9 billion by the year 2050. One of the primary concerns for the agricultural industry is how will farmers be able to grow enough food to feed this growing population, while also protecting natural resources such as soil, water, air, wildlife, and forestry resources.
Students will learn the concepts of how agriculture and all natural resource areas are interrelated, and how the use of new technologies are key to increase food production. Key topics will include:
- Understand the importance of moving toward sustainable farming systems to conserve natural resources, mitigate climate change, reduce erosion and protect water quality and quantity, and promote pollination;
- Comprehension of farming practices that build soil organic matter such as composting, crop rotations, cover crops, conservation tillage, and management intensive grazing systems to improve soil health;
- Understand integrated pest management and biological pest control techniques used to prevent insect pest, disease, and weed problems;
- Understand the role of new technology: agricultural biotechnology; precision agriculture; and using UAV (drones, GIS, etc.) to increase farm efficiency for food production.
- Understanding how agroecosystems function and the services they provide.
- Understanding the importance of soil health as the foundation of a healthy ecosystem.
- Understanding sustainable agriculture on large and small farm operations, as well as the indicators of sustainable farming.
- Understanding how sustainable and best management farming practices enhance and protect soil health, water quality and quantity, and biodiversity; as well as manage insect pests, disease, and weeds.
- The differences of local, regional, and national foods systems that are vital to grow food for an ever increasing world population; and the importance of each food system.
- New technologies that help provide more efficient agriculture production.
- Understand how agroecology applies ecological principles to agricultural systems by considering productivity, ecosystem impacts, and social responsibility.
- Understand the indicators of soil health, including physical, chemical and biological properties and its role in the agroecosystem.
- Define sustainable agriculture, including comparing and contrasting sustainable practices on large and small farm operations.
- Understand the importance of moving toward sustainable farming systems to conserve natural resources, mitigate climate change, reduce erosion and protect water quality and quantity; as well as and promote pollination.
- Understand farm management practices to build soil organic matter, such as: composting, crop rotations, cover crops, conservation tillage, and management intensive grazing systems to improve soil health.
- Understand best management practices that improve water quality and reduce water use such as conservation tillage, cover crops, plant selection, precision agriculture, water re-use, and sub-surface drip irrigation.
- Understand integrated pest management and biological pest control techniques used to prevent insect pest, disease, and weed problems.
- Knowledge of the role pollinators play in farming and ways to attract them.
- Describe the economic, social, and environmental benefits of sustainable agriculture to local communities, as well as to regional and global food systems.
- Understand the role of new technology: agricultural biotechnology; precision agriculture; using UAV (drones, GIS, etc.) to increase farm efficiency for food production.
- Understand the risks and benefits of agricultural biotechnology.
Key Topic #1
- Biodiversity conservation and agricultural sustainability: towards a new paradigm of ‘eco-agriculture’ landscapes
- Study: bioenergy decisions involve wildlife habitat and land use trade-offs
- Could soils help save the climate?
- Ecosystem services and agriculture: tradeoffs and synergies
- Linking ecologists and traditional farmers in the search for sustainable agriculture
Key Topic #2
- Soil has a microbiome, too
- Healthy, productive soils checklist for growers
- Soil health and Soil Health Institute featured on American Farmer TV series (Video)
- The hope in healthy soil (Video)
Key Topic #3
- Beyond conservation agriculture
- Sections to focus on in “Beyond conservation agriculture”
- North Carolina farm family awarded for conservation practices
- Why industrial farms are good for the environment
- Organic farming not always best for the planet
- What is sustainable agriculture?
Key Topic #4
- A diversity of bees is good for farming—and farmers’ wallets
- Cover crops for organic farms
- Farming for bees
- Forest farming can bring economic, environmental benefits to WNC
Key Topic #5
- Can meat actually be eco-friendly?
- Sharing North Carolina agribusiness exports with the world
- Urban agriculture could potentially produce a tenth of the world's food. Is grass really the best use for your yard?
Key Topic #6
- A controversial technology could save us from starvation—if we let it
- Battlefield: papers suggesting that biotech crops might harm the environment
- Biotechnology frequently asked questions
- Engineering honesty: USDA moves to disclose “GMOs”
- Opinion: when genetic engineering is an environmentally friendly choice
- The future of agriculture
Key Topic #6-2