question: what are small farms, how do they contribute to society, and what challenges are they faced with?

Producing a vast amount of the world's food, small farms are valuable assets that contribute to long-term economic sustainability and food security. What actually constitutes a small farm is hard to specify as there are extreme variations in societal structure, ergo many definitions exist. In the United States, a small farm is defined as any … Continue reading question: what are small farms, how do they contribute to society, and what challenges are they faced with?

5 ways that humans impact ecosystems

Excluding the beaver, no other animal on the planet alters its environment as much as humans. As a result, the impact of the actions of humans is widespread even if the effects are not overtly noticeable. Some ways that we affect our ecosystems include: Habitat Fragmentation: This occurs when an organism's favored environment is disrupted … Continue reading 5 ways that humans impact ecosystems

ecology defined + a description of the components of an ecosystem

Ecology is the study of environmental systems, i.e. ecosystems, and how each of the different parts of a given ecosystem interact. It is sometimes known as the economics of nature. Aldo Leopold is often considered the grandfather of ecology because of his passion for understanding how each of the various parts of the natural world interact. … Continue reading ecology defined + a description of the components of an ecosystem

buffer zones & buffer strips – what they are and why we need them

Buffer zones and buffer strips are the areas between aquatic and terrestrial zones.  The best-known buffer strips are wetlands and riparian zones.  They can consist of natural or planted vegetation and serve as a place for water and matter storage.   The two types of limitations that impact buffer zones are internal limitations and external … Continue reading buffer zones & buffer strips – what they are and why we need them

biological control via entomophatogenic viruses: baculovirus

Entomopathogenic viruses are those that infect and kill insects.  They are superior to regular pesticides in that they are not harmful to humans or other vertebrates. Furthermore, each viral strain attacks only a limited number of insect species which helps to mitigate unpredicted damage. There are two types of entomopathogenic viruses: Baculoviridae (ds DNA) Nucleopolyhedrovirus … Continue reading biological control via entomophatogenic viruses: baculovirus

an introduction to integrated pest management (IPM)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a long-term pest prevention program that focuses on ecosystem-based strategies for the control of pest related issues. This is accomplished through a combination of techniques including biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices and the use of resistant cultivars. The use of chemical pesticides is then restricted to applications only … Continue reading an introduction to integrated pest management (IPM)

the importance of annual grasses

The family Poaceae is considered the most economically important plant family due to the fact that they produce the world’s food staples including domesticated cereal crops such as maize (corn), wheat, rice, barley and millet.  Poaceae plants also provide forage, building materials (bamboo, thatch, straw) and fuel (ethanol).   Agricultural grasses grown for their edible … Continue reading the importance of annual grasses

question: what is the difference between intensive and extensive agricultural systems as they relate to livestock production?

Intensive livestock production systems are those that use higher amounts of labor and capital relative to the land area.  The best-known examples are Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) which house large numbers of animals in small spaces.  These operations are dependent on food that was likely produced thousands of kilometers/miles away which increases demand for … Continue reading question: what is the difference between intensive and extensive agricultural systems as they relate to livestock production?

the green revolution

There is no doubt about it - there are a lot of people in the world: more than 7 billion. The sheer number of humans is probably even too much for our brains to process. Still, we're all here and more people are coming joining the global population and every day. Feeding so many people … Continue reading the green revolution

question: is there such thing as a human carrying capacity?

We are all living together here on this big beautiful green and blue rock we like to call Earth.  She provides us with so many wonderful things - most importantly the raw materials and environmental services that keep us alive.  Despite being so lucky as to have these gifts from nature, we as humans seem … Continue reading question: is there such thing as a human carrying capacity?