Rural land is important because of the ecological services it provides
Farmlands: Land that is used to grow crops and fruit The United States contains more than 100 million hectares of farmland.
The human body uses food both as source of energy and as a source of materials for building and maintaining body tissues. Why do we need food?
Why does our farmland matter? Without it we would have no sources of vegetables, fruit, grains, or plant based oils With our growing population, we need more food than ever before in history (this will continue to increase)
Who is using the most food? Peopled in more developed countries tend to eat more food. With more income provided to a household…the more food consumed. Higher population of country and world, less food available
What is the major challenge to farmlands and food production? As the population gets bigger, the less food is available. Farmlands are expected to keep up with population growth. This can lead to over-use of farmland.
What limited resources do we need to produce food? Water Nutrients Fertilizer Pesticides space
What is food efficiency? Measure of the quantity of food produced on a given area of land with limited inputs of energy and resources The more efficient a food is, the higher the yield.
Because 10% of the energy stored in grass is obtained by cows, then 1% of that amount is transferred to humans. Therefore, more beneficial to eat grass directly… yet, more nutrients and protein obtained from meat. The efficiency of raising plants for direct human consumption is higher than that for raising plants for animals for human consumption. WHY?????
What is changing about farmland? (the Green Revolution) We have decreasing numbers of people who are farmers This means larger farms are used to feed more people Farmland is used differently by large farms than small farms Example: Planting one crop instead of many
What is Food? Is it anything we eat? How do we decide what we eat?
What are some threats to our farmland? Development/city expansion Not enough space Increase in demand Limited water/drought Desertification Erosion Overuse of land
What are some threats to our farmland? Overuse of land Land becomes drained of nutrients from over- planting and planting only one type of crop This is more common with larger industrial farms
What are some threats to our farmland? Increase in demand We need the same amount of land to produce more food
What are some threats to our farmland? Droughts and desertification Land will become “like a desert” Causes are lack of water, climate change, deforestation, over- use, lack of biodiversity, one- crop planting
Desertification Loss of more than 10% productivity due to erosion, soil compaction, forest removal, overgrazing, drought, climate change, salinization, depletion of water sources Can result in expansion of desert areas or creation of new desert areas in areas that once supported fertile land
What are some threats to our farmland? Erosion Natural process caused by wind and water Intensified by using the land for farming and removing vegetation An aerial view of farmland in Minnesota shows the unique patterns created by the use of contour farming. This farming method conserves rainwater and reduces soil losses from surface erosion.
Areas of the world threatened by soil erosion and desertification:
What can these threats to farmland mean? Larger one-crop farms tend to be more susceptible to pest problems and nutrient deficiency This means that they have challenges keeping up with increasing food demands
What can these threats to farmland mean? Malnutrition: A condition that occurs when people do not consume enough Calories or do not eat a sufficient variety of foods to fulfill all of the body’s needs.
The Dust Bowl Between 1879 and 1929, cultivated area in southern great plains grew from 12 million to 40 million acres Farmers grew wheat and ranchers grazed thousands of cattle – both contributed to erosion by removing native grasses and breaking down soil structure Prior to this cultivation, native prairie grasses of this temperate grassland region held erosion-prone soils in place
Early 1930’s a severe drought in the Great Plains (Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado) The drought exacerbated the ongoing human impacts on the soil The region’s strong winds carried away millions of tons of topsoil Dust storms traveled up to 2000 km (1250 miles), blackening rain and snow as far awway as NY and VT Some areas lost 4 inches of topsoil in a few years
Affected region in the Great Plains became known as the Dust Bowl “Black blizzards” destroyed livelihoods and caused many people to suffer a chronic type of lung irritation and degradation known as dust pneumonia (similar to silicosis that affects coal miners) Large numbers of farmers forced off land
We need it to produce food. We need food to live. We need to feed more people every year
Why does being a vegetarian increase our food efficiency?
We need a certain amount of energy to live and you can get more energy by eating plants directly. Remember the 10% rule! Eating meat causes us to lose energy because the animal uses some energy.
How is increasing population threatening our farmland?
Because we have more people to feed, we need to produce more food. This causes farms to overuse the soil, do one-crop farming which drains nutrients, causes more erosion, demands more water and calls for more chemicals to be introduced to our environment like fertilizer and pesticides.
The Green Revolution More food is being produced by large farms in response to increased demand for food from developing countries and increasing populations
Current Efforts to Increase Crop Yields 1.Add nutrients Composting: partly decomposed organic material, ex: food scraps, yard waste, crop wastes, etc Fertilizer: Adding chemicals that are high in nitrogen and phosphorous to help plants grow Link to Township of Livingston Brochure
Current Efforts to Increase Crop Yields 2. Pest Control Pesticides chemicals used to kill insects, weeds, and other crop pests. Natural Predators Introducing natural predators to prey on unwanted pests and insects
Pros and Cons of Organic and Inorganic Farming Inorganic Farming: Use of Fertilizers and Pesticides PRO: Needed to increase crop yields with increase in population They kill insects, weeds, and other pests that may interfere with growing the crop CON:Plants can build a resistance to the pesticides, therefore needing more chemicals to be manufactured to fend off pests Increase in cancer rates and nervous disorders in response to chemicals consumed from fruits and vegetables Biomagnification occurs in wildlife foodchains with the use of fertilizers RUNOFF!!! Organic Farming: Use of Organic Nutrients PRO: All natural ingredients are added to the soil which add essential nutrients without the use of chemicals Biological pest control: uses natural predators to fend off pests CON: Can NOT produce enough crops to keep up with current demands for fruit and veggies
All fertilizers, pesticides, and organic products are reviewed by the United States Department of Agriculture for Approval (USDA). This doesn’t mean mistakes haven’t been made that have affected the environment…can you think of any?
Current Efforts to Increase Crop Yields 3. Hydroponics As opposed to taking up land for crops, plants are now being grown in greenhouses using hydroponics to conserve space. Hydroponic plants: method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, without soil.plants nutrientsoil
Current Efforts to Increase Crop Yields 4. Genetic Engineering Technology is used to insert new genetic material, or DNA, into a plant cell to make that plant more efficient or more desirable. These plants are called genetically modified (“GM”) food. This new DNA does NOT necessarily have to come from another plant. Most of the food we eat today is GM, BUT future implications have NOT been tested yet.
What are four things we can do to increase crop yields?
Add nutrients Pest Control Hydroponics Genetic Engineering
Name one advantage and one disadvantage to non-organic farming.
Advantage Allows us to increase crop yields to meet increasing food demands – nobody will starve…yet Disadvantage Chemical Run-off into groundwater, Pest resistance to chemicals Health problems from exposure to chemicals Biomagnification
Name one advantage and one disadvantage of organic farming.
Advantage No problems with chemical run-off, health problems due to chemical exposure or groundwater contamination Disadvantage Currently, can not produce high enough yields to meet food demands
Name one advantage and one disadvantage of genetically engineered food.
Advantage Food tastes better Food Looks Better Food is bigger More food is produced Food is preserved better Food is resistant to pests Disadvantage We don’t know the long term effects….so who knows what could happen Using genes from “other” species…could aggravate allergies