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Soils, agriculture, and the future of food

erosion Key Words feedlots fertilizer food security A horizon genetic engineering agriculture genetically modified aquaculture (GM) organisms B horizon green revolution bedrock gully erosion biocontrol horizon biological control humus biotechnology industrialized C horizon agriculture conservation tillage inorganic fertilizers contour farming conventional irrigation integrated pest management (IPM) crop rotation irrigation croplands leaching deposition low input agriculture desertification monoculture drip irrigation no-till agriculture Dust Bowl O horizon E horizon

organic agriculture organic fertilizers overgrazing parent material pesticides pollination precautionary principle R horizon rangelands rill erosion traditional agriculture salinization transgenic seed banks waterlogged sheet erosion weathering shelterbelts soil soil profile splash erosion strip cropping sustainable agriculture terracing topsoil

Soil science fundamentals Soil erosion and degradation Soil conservation policies Pest management and pollination Genetically modified food and preserving crop diversity Feedlot agriculture and Aquaculture Organic agriculture

Central Case: No-Till Agriculture in Brazil

Southern Brazils farmers were suffering falling yields, erosion, and pollution from agrichemicals. They turned to no-till farming, which bypasses plowing. Erosion was reduced, soils were enhanced, and yields rose greatly. No-till methods are spreading worldwide.

Agriculture today

We have converted 38% of Earths surface for agriculture, the practice of cultivating soil, producing crops, and raising livestock for human use and consumption.

Croplands (for growing plant crops) and rangelands (for grazing animal livestock) depend on healthy soil.

Natural Capital

Ecological Services Ecological Services
Help maintain water flow and Helpinfiltration water soil maintain

Economic Services Economic Services Food crops Fiber crops

Fiber crops Food crops

flow and soil infiltration Provide partial erosion protection Provide partial erosion protection Can build soil organic matter Store atmospheric carbon
Can build soil organic matter

Crop genetic resources

Crop genetic Jobs resources

Store atmospheric carbon

Provide wildlife habitat for some species

Provide wildlife habitat for some species


Soil as a system

Parent material, such as bedrock, is weathered to begin process of soil formation. Parent material = the base geological material in a location Bedrock = the continuous mass of solid rock that makes up Earths crust Weathering = processes that break down rocks

World soil conditions

Soils are becoming degraded in many regions.

Figure 8.1a

Soil degradation by continent

Europes land is most degraded because of its long history of intensive agriculture. But Asias and Africas soils are fast becoming degraded.
Figure 8.1b

Causes of soil degradation

Most soil degradation is caused by: livestock overgrazing deforestation cropland agriculture.

Figure 8.2

Components of soil

Soil is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic components and living organisms.


Dark, crumbly mass of undifferentiated material made up of complex organic compounds Soils with high humus content hold moisture better and are more productive for plant life.

Soil profile
Consists of layers called horizons. Simplest: A = topsoil B = subsoil C = parent material But most have O, A, E, B, C, and R
Figure 8.8

Soil profile
O Horizon: Organic or litter layer A Horizon: Topsoil. Mostly inorganic minerals with some organic material and humus mixed in. Crucial for plant growth E Horizon: Eluviation horizon; loss of minerals by leaching, a process whereby solid materials are dissolved and transported away B Horizon: Subsoil. Zone of accumulation or deposition of leached minerals and organic acids from above C Horizon: Slightly altered parent material R Horizon: Bedrock

Soil characterization
Soil can be characterized by color and several other traits: Texture (percentage sand, silt, clay) Structure Porosity Cation exchange capacity pH Parent Material Infiltration rate Nutrient concentrations Best for plant growth is loam, an even mix of sand, silt and clay.

Erosion and deposition

Erosion = removal of material from one place and its transport elsewhere by wind or water Deposition = arrival of eroded material at a new location These processes are natural, and can build up fertile soil. But where artificially sped up, they are a big problem for farming.

Erosion and Deposition

Sand dunes around Moses Lake are all that are left of the wind erosion in that area. The smaller particles, silt and clay were blown eastward toward the Palouse. The deposition of the silt and clay particles led to the formation of the Palouse Hills. The Palouse Hills are a wind/water erosional surface.


Commonly caused by: Overcultivating, too much plowing, poor planning Overgrazing rangeland with livestock Deforestation, especially on slopes

Types of soil erosion

Splash erosion

Rill erosion

Sheet erosion

Gully erosion
Figure 8.11

Erosion: A global problem

Over 19 billion ha (47 billion acres) suffer from erosion or other soil degradation. Mississippi Riverto thin to plow to thick to drink (Sam Clemens)

A loss of more than 10% productivity due to: Erosion Soil compaction Forest removal Overgrazing Drought Salinization Climate change Depletion of water resources etc. When severe, there is expansion of desert areas, or creation of new ones, e.g., the Middle East, formerly, Fertile Crescent.

The Dust Bowl

Drought and degraded farmland produced the 1930s Dust Bowl. Storms brought dust from the U.S. Great Plains all the way to New York and Washington, and wrecked many lives.
Figure 8.14

Colorado Dust Bowl


Oklahoma New Mexico



Overgrazing Deforestation Erosion Salinization Soil compaction Natural climate change

Worsening drought Famine Economic losses Lower living standards Environmental refugees

Soil conservation
As a result of the Dust Bowl, the U.S. Soil Conservation Act of 1935 and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) were created. SCS: Local agents in conservation districts worked with farmers to disseminate scientific knowledge and help them conserve their soil.

Preventing soil degradation

Several farming strategies to prevent soil degradation: Crop rotation Contour farming Intercropping Terracing Shelterbelts Conservation tillage

Crop rotation
Alternating the crop planted (e.g., between corn and soybeans) can restore nutrients to soil and fight pests and disease.

Figure 8.16a

Contour farming
Planting along contour lines of slopes helps reduce erosion on hillsides.

Figure 8.16b

Mixing crops such as in strip cropping can provide nutrients and reduce erosion.

Figure 8.16c

(c) Alley cropping

Cutting stairsteps or terraces is the only way to farm extremely steep hillsides without causing massive erosion. It is labor-intensive to create, but has been a mainstay for centuries in the Himalayas and the Andes.

Figure 8.16d

Rows of fast-growing trees around crop plantings provide windbreaks, reducing erosion by wind.

Figure 8.16e

Conservation tillage
No-till and reduced-tillage farming leaves old crop residue on the ground instead of plowing it into soil. This covers the soil, keeping it in place. Here, corn grows up out of a cover crop.

Figure 8.16f

Conservation tillage
Conservation tillage is not a panacea for all crops everywhere. It often requires more chemical herbicides (because weeds are not plowed under). It often requires more fertilizer (because other plants compete with crops for nutrients). But legume cover crops can keep weeds at bay while nourishing soil, and green manures can be used as organic fertilizers.

Trade-Offs Conservation Tillage

Reduces erosion Saves fuel Cuts costs Holds more soil water Reduces soil compaction Allows several crops per season Does not reduce crop yields Reduces CO2 release from soil Leaves stalks that can harbor crop pests and fungal diseases and increase pesticide use

Can increase herbicide use for some crops

Requires investment in expensive equipment


The artificial provision of water to support agriculture 70% of all freshwater used by humans is used for irrigation. Irrigated land globally covers more area than all of Mexico and Central America combined. Irrigation has boosted productivity in many places but too much can cause problems.

Waterlogging and salinization

Overirrigation can raise the water table high enough to suffocate plant roots with waterlogging. Salinization (buildup of salts in surface soil layers) is a more widespread problem. Evaporation in arid areas draws water up through the soil, bringing salts with it. Irrigation causes repeated evaporation, bringing more salts up.

Improved irrigation

In conventional irrigation, only 40% of the water reaches plants. Efficient drip irrigation targeted to plants conserves water, saves money, and reduces problems like salinization.

Figure 8.17

Solutions Soil Salinization

Prevention Cleanup
Flushing soil (expensive and wastes water)

Reduce irrigation

Not growing crops for 2-5 years

Switch to salttolerant crops (such as barley, cotton, sugar beet)

Installing underground drainage systems (expensive)

Supply nutrients to crops Inorganic fertilizers = mined or synthetically manufactured mineral supplements Organic fertilizers = animal manure, crop residues, compost, etc.
Figure 8.18

Global fertilizer usages

Fertilizer use has risen dramatically in the past 50 years.

Figure 8.19b

Inorganic Commercial Fertilizers Advantages Easy to transport Disadvantages Do not add humus to soil Reduce organic matter in soil Reduce ability of soil to hold water Lower oxygen content of soil Require large amounts of energy to produce, transport, and apply Release the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) Without commercial inorganic fertilizers, world food output could drop by 40% Runoff can overfertilize nearby lakes and kill fish

Easy to store

Easy to apply

Inexpensive to produce

Help feed one of every three people in the world


When livestock eat too much plant cover on rangelands, impeding plant regrowth The contrast between ungrazed and overgrazed land on either side of a fenceline can be striking.
Figure 8.22


Overgrazing can set in motion a series of positive feedback loops.

Figure 8.21

Recent soil conservation laws

The U.S. has continued to pass soil conservation legislation in recent years: Food Security Act of 1985 Conservation Reserve Program, 1985 Freedom to Farm Act, 1996 Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture Program, 1998 Internationally, there is the UNs FAR program in Asia.

Global food production

World agricultural production has risen faster than human population.

Figure 9.1

Global food security

However, the world still has 800 million hungry people, largely due to inadequate distribution. And considering soil degradation, can we count on food production continuing to rise? Global food security is a goal of scientists and policymakers worldwide.

Undernourishment = too few calories (especially developing world) Overnutrition = too many calories (especially developed world) Malnutrition = lack of nutritional requirements (causes numerous diseases, esp. in developing world)
Figure 9.2

The green revolution

An intensification of industrialization of agriculture, which has produced large yield increases since 1950 Increased yield per unit of land farmed Begun in U.S. and other developed nations; exported to developing nations like India and those in Africa are more productive for plant life.

Transgenic contamination?

UC Berkeley researchers Ignacio Chapela (L) and David Quist (R) ignited controversy by claiming contamination of Mexican maize. They later admitted some flaws in their methods, but debate continued, revealing the personal and political pressures of highstakes scientific research.
From The Science behind the Stories

Intensified agriculture meant monocultures, vast spreads of a single crop. This is economically efficient, but increases risk of catastrophic failure (all eggs in one basket).

Wheat monoculture in Washington

Figure 9.4a

Crop diversity

Monocultures also have reduced crop diversity.

90% of all human food now comes from only 15 crop species and 8 livestock species.

Biodiversity Loss
Loss and degradation of habitat from clearing grasslands and forests and draining wetland Fish kills from pesticide runoff Killing of wild predators to protect livestock Loss of genetic diversity from replacing thousands of wild crop strains with a few monoculture strains Erosion Loss of fertility Salinization Waterlogging Desertification


Air Pollution
Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil Fuel issue Other air pollutants from fossil fuel use Pollution from pesticide sprays
Water waste Aquifer depletion

Surface and groundwater pollution from pesticides and fertilizers

Increased runoff and Overfertilization of lakes flooding from land cleared and slow-moving rivers to grow crops from runoff of nitrates and phosphates from Sediment pollution from fertilizers, livestock erosion wastes, and food processing wastes Fish kills from pesticide runoff

Human Health
Nitrates in drinking water Pesticide residues in drinking water, food, and air Contamination of drinking and swimming water with disease organisms from livestock wastes Bacterial contamination of meat

The green revolution

Techniques to increase crop output per unit area of cultivated land (since world was running out of arable land) Technology transfer to developed world in 1940s-80s: Norman Borlaug began in Mexico, then India. Special crop breeds (drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant, etc.) are a key component. It enabled food production to keep pace with population.

Green revolution: Environmental impacts

Intensification of agriculture causes environmental harm: Pollution from synthetic fertilizers Pollution from synthetic pesticides Water depleted for irrigation Fossil fuels used for heavy equipment However, without the green revolution, much more land would have been converted for agriculture, destroying forests, wetlands, and other ecosystems.

2,000 Grain production (millions of tons)




0 1950



1980 Year




Total World Grain Production

Feeding the world

In 1983, the amount of grain produced per capita leveled off and began to decline.

Figure 8.3

Pest management

Terms pest and weed have no scientific or objective definitions. Any organism that does something we humans dont like gets called a pest or a weed. The organisms are simply trying to survive and reproduce and a monoculture is an irresistible smorgasbord of food for them.

Chemical pesticides
Synthetic poisons that target organisms judged to be pests

Pesticide use
Pesticide use is still rising sharply across the world, although growth has slowed in the U.S. 1 billion kg (2 billion lbs.) of pesticides are applied each year in the U.S.

Figure 9.5

Pests evolve resistance to pesticides

Pesticides gradually become less effective, because pests evolve resistance to them. Those few pests that survive pesticide applications because they happen to be genetically immune will be the ones that reproduce and pass on their genes to the next generation. This is evolution by natural selection, and it threatens our very food supply.

Pests evolve resistance to pesticides

1. Pests attack crop

2. Pesticide applied

Figure 9.6

Pests evolve resistance to pesticides

3. All pests except a few with innate resistance are killed

4. Survivors breed and produce pesticide-resistant population

Figure 9.6

Pests evolve resistance to pesticides

5. Pesticide applied again

6. Has little effect. More-toxic chemicals must be developed.

Figure 9.6

Biological control

Synthetic chemicals can pollute and be health hazards. Biological control (biocontrol) avoids this. Biocontol entails battling pests and weeds with other organisms that are natural enemies of those pests and weeds. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend.)

Biological control
Biocontrol has had success stories. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) = soil bacterium that kills many insects. In many cases, seemingly safe and effective.

Cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum (above), was used to wipe out invasive prickly pear cactus in Australia.
Figure 9.7

But biocontrol is risky

Most biocontrol agents are introduced from elsewhere.

Some may turn invasive and become pests themselves!

Cactus moths brought to the Caribbean jumped to Florida, are eating native cacti, and spreading. Wasps and flies brought to Hawaii to control crop pests are parasitizing native caterpillars in wilderness areas.

Integrated pest management (IPM)

Combines biocontrol, chemical, and other methods May involve: Biocontrol Pesticides Close population monitoring Habitat modification Crop rotation Transgenic crops Alternative tillage Mechanical pest removal

Process of plant reproduction: male pollen meets female sex cells In many plants, animals transfer pollen to pollinate female plants, in mutualistic interaction to obtain nectar or pollen.

Honeybee pollinating apple blossom

Figure 9.9

Genetic modification of food

Manipulating and engineering genetic material in the lab may represent the best hope for increasing agricultural production further without destroying more natural lands. But many people remain uneasy about genetically engineering crop plants and other organisms.

Genetic engineering uses recombinant DNA

Genetic engineering (GE) = directly manipulating an organisms genetic material in the lab by adding, deleting, or changing segments of its DNA Genetically modified (GM) organisms = genetically engineered using recombinant DNA technology Recombinant DNA = DNA patched together from DNA of multiple organisms (e.g., adding disease-resistance genes from one plant to the genes of another)

Transgenes and biotechnology

Genes moved between organisms are transgenes, and the organisms are transgenic. These efforts are one type of biotechnology, the material application of biological science to create products derived from organisms.

Genetic engineering vs. traditional breeding

They are similar: We have been altering crop genes (by artificial selection) for thousands of years. There is no fundamental difference: both approaches modify organisms genetically. They are different: GE can mix genes of very different species. GE is in vitro lab work, not with whole organisms. GE uses novel gene combinations that didnt come together on their own.

Some GM foods
Golden rice: Enriched with vitamin A. But too much hype?

FlavrSavr tomato: Better taste? But pulled from market.

Ice-minus strawberries: Frostresistant bacteria sprayed on. Images alarmed public.

Bt crops: Widely used on U.S. crops. But ecological concerns?

Figure 9.12

Some GM foods
Bt sunflowers: Insect resistant. But could hybridize with wild relatives to create superweeds?

StarLink corn: Bt corn variety. Genes spread to non-GM corn; pulled from market.

Roundup-Ready crops: Resistant to Monsantos herbicide. But encourages more herbicide use?

Terminator seeds: Plants kill their own seeds. Farmers forced to buy seeds each year.
Figure 9.12

Transferring Genes Into Plants

Transferring genes into plants.

Click to view animation.

Prevalence of GM foods

Although many early GM crops ran into bad publicity or other problems, biotechnology is already transforming the U.S. food supply. Two-thirds of U.S. soybeans, corn, and cotton are now genetically modified strains.

Prevalence of GM foods
Nearly 6 million farmers in 16 nations plant GM crops. But most are grown by 4 nations. The U.S. grows 66% of the worlds GM crops. number of plantings have grown >10%/year
Figure 9.13

Scientific concerns about GM organisms

Are there health risks for people? Can transgenes escape into wild plants, pollute ecosystems, harm organisms? Can pests evolve resistance to GM crops just as they can to pesticides? Can transgenes jump from crops to weeds and make them into superweeds? Can transgenes get into traditional native crop races and ruin their integrity?

Scientific concerns about GM organisms

These questions are not fully answered yet. In the meantime Should we not worry, because so many U.S. crops are already GM and little drastic harm is apparent? Or should we adopt the precautionary principle, the idea that one should take no new action until its ramifications are understood?

Socioeconomic and political concerns about GM products

Should scientists and corporations be tinkering with our food supply? Are biotech corporations testing their products adequately, and is outside oversight adequate? Should large multinational corporations exercise power over global agriculture and small farmers?

Europe vs. America

Europe: has followed precautionary principle in approach to GM foods. Governments have listened to popular opposition among their citizens. U.S.: GM foods were introduced and accepted with relatively little public debate.

Relations over agricultural trade have been uneasy, and it remains to be seen whether Europe will accept more GM foods from the U.S.

Genetically Modified Food and Crops Projected Advantages Need less fertilizer Need less water More resistant to insects, plant disease, frost, and drought Faster growth New allergens in food Can grow in slightly salty soils Less spoilage Better flavor Less use of conventional pesticides Tolerate higher levels of pesticide use Higher yields Lower nutrition Increased evolution of Pesticide-resistant Insects and plant disease Creation of herbicideResistant weeds Harm beneficial insects Lower genetic diversity Projected Disadvantages Irreversible and unpredictable genetic and ecological effects Harmful toxins in food From possible plant cell Mutations

Viewpoints: Genetically modified foods

Indra Vasil
Biotech crops are already helping to conserve valuable natural resources, reduce the use of harmful agrochemicals, produce more nutritious foods, and promote economic development.

Ignacio Chapela
We should expect fundamental alterations in ecosystems with the release of transgenic crops We are experiencing a global experiment without controls.
From Viewpoints

Preserving crop diversity

Native cultivars of crops are important to preserve, in case we need their genes to overcome future pests or pathogens.

Diversity of cultivars has been rapidly disappearing from all crops throughout the world.

Seed banks preserve seeds, crop varieties

Seed banks are living museums of crop diversity, saving collections of seeds and growing them into plants every few years to renew the collection. Careful hand pollination helps ensure plants of one type do not interbreed with plants of another.

Figure 9.14

Animal agriculture: Livestock and poultry

Consumption of meat has risen faster than population over the past several decades.
Figure 9.15

Feedlot agriculture
Increased meat consumption has led to animals being raised in feedlots (factory farms), huge pens that deliver energyrich food to animals housed at extremely high densities.

Figure 9.16

Feedlot agriculture: Environmental impacts

Immense amount of waste produced, polluting air and water nearby Intense usage of chemicals (antibiotics, steroids, hormones), some of which persist in environment However, if all these animals were grazing on rangeland, how much more natural land would be converted for agriculture?

Food choices = energy choices

Energy is lost at each trophic level. When we eat meat from a cow fed on grain, most of the grains energy has already been spent on the cows metabolism. Eating meat is therefore very energy inefficient.

Grain feed input for animal output

Some animal food products can be produced with less input of grain feed than others.

Figure 9.17

Land and water input for animal output

Some animal food products can be produced with less input of land and water than others.

Figure 9.18


The raising of aquatic organisms for food in controlled environments Provides 1/3 of worlds fish for consumption 220 species being farmed The fastest growing type of food production


Fish make up half of aquacultural production. Molluscs and plants each make up nearly 1/4.

Global aquaculture has been doubling about every 7 years.

Figure 9.19

Benefits of aquaculture
Provides reliable protein source for people, increases food security Can be small-scale, local, and sustainable Reduces fishing pressure on wild stocks, and eliminates bycatch Uses fewer fossil fuels than fishing Can be very energy efficient

Environmental impacts of aquaculture

Density of animals leads to disease, antibiotic use, risks to food security. It can generate large amounts of waste. Often animals are fed grain, which is not energy efficient. Sometimes animals are fed fish meal from wild-caught fish. Farmed animals may escape into the wild and interbreed with, compete with, or spread disease to wild animals.

Environmental impacts of aquaculture

Transgenic salmon (top) can compete with or spread disease to wild salmon (bottom) when they escape from fish farms.
Figure 9.20

Trade-Offs Aquaculture
Advantages Highly efficient High yield in small volume of water Increased yields through crossbreeding and genetic engineering Can reduce overharvesting of conventional fisheries Little use of fuel Profit not tied to price of oil High profits Tanks too contaminated to use after about 5 years Disadvantages Large inputs of land, feed, And water needed Produces large and concentrated outputs of waste Destroys mangrove forests Increased grain production needed to feed some species Fish can be killed by pesticide runoff from nearby cropland Dense populations vulnerable to disease

Solutions More Sustainable Aquaculture

Reduce use of fishmeal as a feed to reduce depletion of other fish Improve pollution management of aquaculture wastes Reduce escape of aquaculture species into the wild Restrict location of fish farms to reduce loss of mangrove forests and other threatened areas Farm some aquaculture species (such as salmon and cobia) in deeply submerged cages to protect them from wave action and predators and allow dilution of wastes into the ocean Set up a system for certifying sustainable forms of aquaculture

Sustainable agriculture
Agriculture that can practiced the same way far into the future Does not deplete soils faster than they form Does not reduce healthy soil, clean water, and genetic diversity essential for long-term crop and livestock production Low-input agriculture = small amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, water, growth hormones, fossil fuel energy, etc. Organic agriculture = no synthetic chemicals used. Instead, biocontrol, composting, etc.

Organic farming
Small percent of market, but is growing fast 1% of U.S. market, but growing 20%/yr 35% of European market, but growing 30%/yr Organic produce: Advantages for consumers: healthier; environmentally better Disadvantages for consumers: less uniform and appealinglooking; more expensive

Conclusions: Challenges

Chemical pesticides pollute, and kill pollinators, and pests evolve resistance. GM crops show promise for social and environmental benefits, but questions linger about their impacts. Much of the worlds crop diversity has vanished. Feedlot agriculture and aquaculture pose benefits and harm for the environment and human health.

Conclusions: Challenges
Organic farming remains a small portion of agriculture. Human population continues to grow, requiring more food production. Soil erosion is a problem worldwide. Salinization, waterlogging, and other soil degradation problems are leading to desertification. Grazing and logging, as well as cropland agriculture, contribute to soil degradation.

Conclusions: Solutions

Biocontrol and IPM offer alternatives to pesticides. Further research and experience with GM crops may eventually resolve questions about impacts, and allow us to maximize benefits while minimizing harm. More funding for seed banks can rebuild crop diversity. Ways are being developed to make feedlot agriculture and aquaculture safer and cleaner.

Conclusions: Solutions
Organic farming is popular and growing fast. Green revolution advances have kept up with food demand so far. Improved distribution and slowed population growth would help further. Farming strategies like no-till farming, contour farming, terracing, etc., help control erosion. Government laws, and government extension agents working with farmers, have helped improve farming practices and control soil degradation. Better grazing and logging practices exist that have far less impact on soils.

Solutions Sustainable Agriculture

High-yield polyculture Organic fertilizers Biological pest control Integrated pest management Irrigation efficiency Perennial crops Crop rotation Use of more waterefficient crops Soil conservation Subsidies for more sustainable farming and fishing Loss of biodiversity Loss of prime cropland Food waste Subsidies for unsustainable farming and fishing Population growth Poverty

Soil erosion Soil salinization Aquifer depletion Overgrazing Overfishing

What Can You Do? Sustainable Agriculture

Waste les food Reduce or eliminate meat consumption Feed pets balanced grain foods instead of meat Use organic farming to grow some of your food Buy organic food Compost your food wastes

Integrated pest management may involve all of the following EXCEPT ?

a. Close population monitoring b. Biocontrol c. Exclusive reliance on pesticides d. Habitat modification e. Transgenic crops

What do seed banks do?

a. Lend money to farmers to buy seeds b. Pay farmers to store seeds c. Buy seeds from farmers d. Store seeds to maintain genetic diversity e. None of the above

Which is NOT a benefit of aquaculture?

a. Provides a reliable protein source b. Reduces pressure on natural fisheries c. Produces no waste d. Uses fewer fossil fuels than commercial fishing e. All of the above are benefits

QUESTION: Weighing the Issues

Can we call the green revolution a success? a. A huge success; it has saved millions from starvation because it increased food production to keep pace with population growth. b. Not a success; its environmental impacts have outweighed its claimed benefits. c. A success; its environmental impacts are balanced by the fact that it saved huge areas from deforestation.

QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data

With 500 kg of water, you could produce ?

a. 2 kg of protein from milk b. Protein from 50 chickens c. 750 kg of protein from beef d. 15 eggs
Figure 9.18b

QUESTION: Viewpoints
Should we encourage the continued development of GM foods? a. Yes; they will bring many health, social, and environmental benefits. b. No, we should adopt the precautionary principle, and not introduce novel things until we know they are safe. c. Yes, but we should proceed cautiously, and consider each new crop separately.

Which statement is NOT correct?

a. Soil consists of disintegrated rock, organic matter, nutrients, and microorganisms. b. Healthy soil is vital for agriculture. c. Soil is somewhat renewable. d. Soil is lifeless dirt. e. Much of the worlds soil has been degraded.


The A horizon in a soil profile ?

a. Is often called the zone of accumulation. b. Is often called topsoil. c. Contains mostly organic matter. d. Is the lowest horizon, deepest underground.

Erosion occurs through ?

a. Deforestation. b. Excessive plowing. c. Overgrazing rangelands. d. Two of the above. e. All of the above.

Drip irrigation differs from conventional irrigation in that ?

a. It is much less efficient. b. It can cause salinization. c. Water is precisely targeted to plants. d. About 40% is wasted.

QUESTION: Weighing the Issues

You are farming an extremely steep slope that is sunny and very windy. What strategies would you consider using? a. Crop rotation b. Contour farming c. Intercropping d. Terracing e. Shelterbelts f. No-till farming

QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data

Grain produced per person has ?

a. Risen steadily b. Fallen sharply c. Increased since 1983 d. Decreased since 1983
Figure 8.3