1. Discussion Questions
1.1. Chapter 9
- What would constitute sustainability? What agricultural methods would maximize sustainability?
- What constraints often inhibit the implementation of sustainable agriculture techniques? If farmers use industrial inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, mechanization), does that mean it is not sustainable?
1.1.2. Genetic Variation
- Are local varieties of crops from traditional agricultural systems useful in breeding programs?
- Is genetic engineering the solution to improved crops?
- We have talked about the importance of local adaptation in this course. Does industrial seed production work against local adaptation?
1.1.3. Risks – Temperate vs. Tropical
- Which economic and environmental risks are connected with industrial agriculture in tropical areas? Are these risks the same as in temperate areas?
- Is weed control a greater problem in tropical than in temperate agricultural systems? If so, describe. Discuss options for weed control.
1.1.4. Pest Pressures
- Compare pest pressure on natural plant communities and agricultural crops. By which mechanisms can crop rotations and polycultures provide pest control?
- On theoretical grounds, polycultures are thought to limit pest pressures. Compare and contrast the “resource concentration” hypothesis and the “natural enemies” hypothesis.
- Which nutrients have to be replaced more frequently by farmers in tropical regions?
- What can farmers due to maximize the retention of these nutrients?