10 Things to Know About Agriculture
1. Food production causes biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and water and air pollution.
2. Monoculture means that a single crop is produced. Polyculture means that multiple crops are grown at the same time on the same land.
3. Half of the world’s meat comes from livestock that graze in pastures or rangelands.
The other half comes from animals raised in feedlots where they eat grains.
4. Industrialized agriculture uses high inputs of water, lots of money, fossil fuels, heavy equipment, fertilizers and pesticides to produce a monoculture.
5. Plantation agriculture is used mainly in tropical locations to grow monoculture cash crops. Examples of cash crops are bananas, sugarcane, soybeans, and coffee.
6. Traditional subsistence agriculture is a form of agriculture that uses human labor and work animals to supply enough food for the farmer and his family with little left over.
7. Slash-and-burn agriculture takes place in tropical rainforests. Trees are burned and cleared to make room to grow crops. The land is used for a few years until the soil is degraded.
8. Croplands provide 77% of the world’s food. Rangelands and feedlots make 16% of the world’s food. Oceanic fisheries and aquacultures supply the remaining 7% of food.
9. Undernutrition is when a person does not have enough food to meet their energy needs.
Malnutrition is when a person has a deficiency of nutrients. In third world countries a lot of people lack protein because grain is less expensive and they can’t afford meat.
10. Irrigation for agriculture is harmful to soil. It can cause salinization (increased salt in the soil) and waterlogging (underground accumulation of salt water).
11. Chemical pesticides have advantages: they save lives, increase food supplies, are profitable, work quickly, and are safe if used properly.
12. Chemical pesticides have disadvantages: they promote genetic resistance, kill natural pest enemies, they cause pollution, they can harm animals and people, and they are expensive.
Be able to calculate meat production
Be able to calculate land area use
1. The following are all examples of the benefits of using a feedlot
Increased meat production
Less land use c.
Reduced soil erosion
Use of antibiotics can increase genetic resistance to microbes in humans
Protection of biodiversity
2. The following are all disadvantages of aquaculture
: a. Low efficiency b. Large waste output c. Vulnerability to disease d. They can cause the degradation of estuaries e. Requires grain to feed some species
3. All are alternatives to using pesticides
: a. Creating homes for pest enemies b. Using DDT c. Using sex attractants to lure pests into traps d. Rotating Crops e. Scalding
4. The following are all ways to reduce soil erosion
: a. Terracing b. Row Stripping c. Contour Planting d. Windbreaks e. Alley Cropping
5. Food production can cause all of the following
: a. Nitrates in drinking water b. Greenhouse gas emission c. Aquifer depletion d. Soil Fertility e. Blue baby syndrome
1. Describe Rachel Carson’s contribution to environmental science.
2. What is DDT used for today? Provide one argument why it should be allowed and one why it should not be allowed.
3. What is the significance of the Food Quality Protection Act?
4. What are the disadvantages of using chemical pesticides? Describe an alternative.
5. What is Integrated Pest Management? How can the government promote it?
Rachel Carson wrote
a novel that described the effects of DDT, a harmful pesticide used in the 1950’s. Although she was highly criticized, the novel brought attention to the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. She helped lead to the
banning of pesticides in the US.
DDT is still used in Africa to kill mosquitos that may carry malaria. It should be allowed because it saves human lives. It should not be allowed because it is very persistent in the environment and is biologically magnified through food chains. It has negative impacts on animals such as birds which become disoriented and lay eggs with fragile shells when
exposed to it.
The food protection quality act requires the EPA to cut back the amount of pesticide particles in food by a factor of 10 when the effects of that pesticide on children are
Chemical pesticides promote genetic resistance, kill natural pest enemies, pollute the environment, harm wildlife and people, and are expensive to farmers. An alternative would be rotating crops. It is a way to fool the pest. It will return to the field it fed at last
year, but the crop it prefers will be somewhere else.
Integrated Pest Management combines cultivation, biological techniques, and chemicals to get rid of pests. The government can promote it by putting a sales tax on synthetic chemical pesticides and by sponsoring IPM trainings and presentations.