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9: Conventional & Sustainable Agriculture

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    Learning Outcomes

    • Describe the components of soils
    • Discuss how land use affects global ecosystem conditions
    • Identify environmental effects of pesticides
    • Recognize the relationship between exposure to POPs and human health
    • Explain alternative practices in farming and soil management

    • 9.1: Soil Profiles and Processes
      The word “soil” has been defined differently by different scientific disciplines. In agriculture and horticulture, soil generally refers to the medium for plant growth, typically material within the upper meter or two. Soil consists predominantly of mineral matter, but also contains organic matter (humus) and living organisms. The pore spaces between mineral grains are filled with varying proportions of water and air.
    • 9.2: Soil-Plant Interactions
      Soil plays a key role in plant growth. Beneficial aspects to plants include providing physical support, water, heat, nutrients, and oxygen (Figure 1). Mineral nutrients from the soil can dissolve in water and then become available to plants. Although many aspects of soil are beneficial to plants, excessively high levels of trace metals (either naturally occurring or anthropogenically added) or applied herbicides can be toxic to some plants.
    • 9.3: Conventional Agriculture
      The prevailing agricultural system, variously called “conventional farming,” “modern agriculture,” or “industrial farming,” has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency. Food production worldwide has risen in the past 50 years; the World Bank estimates that between 70 percent and 90 percent of the recent increases in food production are the result of conventional agriculture rather than greater acreage under cultivation.
    • 9.4: Pests and Pesticides
      Pests are organisms that occur where they are not wanted or that cause damage to crops or humans or other animals. Thus, the term “pest” is a highly subjective term. A pesticide is a term for any substance intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests.
    • 9.5: Sustainable Agriculture
      Sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application,
    • 9.S: Conventional & Sustainable Agriculture (Summary)

    Thumbnail image - Women farmers planting a rice field in West Sumatra.

    9: Conventional & Sustainable Agriculture is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Matthew R. Fisher via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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