FABENG 5320 Agrosystems: Elective Lecture for EEDS, Fall 2014
As an EEDS major my favorite class so far is FABENG 5320: Agroecology. One of the focuses of this course is the study of agriculture systems that are designed by studying the structures of natural ecosystems as opposed to monoculture, which is the predominant method of farming in our modern industrial food system. Agroecosystems use sustainable agriculture methods such as polyculture, crop rotations, and bio pesticides in order to maximize the use of local environmental resources and diminish environmental impacts like soil degradation. An agroecology approach to farming aims to use the minimum amount of pesticides and fertilizers in order to decrease the dependency of the system on fossil fuels. It is amazing what we can learn about sustainable food production by studying how organisms in an ecosystem function together to maintain a careful self-sustaining balance and resiliency. Indigenous peoples around the world have been using this kind of knowledge to farm sustainably for centuries.
This class has taught me much about our industrial agriculture system and how unsustainable it is. It is incredible how much fossil fuel, specifically oil, is required to produce pesticides and run machinery in these systems on a massive scaled and it is scary to think about the implication this will have considering out limited oil supply. The constantly growing demand for food around the world will require us to shift towards agroecological methods, adapting them in a way that allows for increased productivity than purely agroecological systems are able to support. This is an issue that will become critical as our oil supplies start to run low and land becomes increasingly infertile, and will bring about major changes in the way we currently produce food. This class has really sparked my interest in agriculture and designing agroecosystems and has inspired me to learn more about what we can learn from Mother Earth about sustainable practices.