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Sustainable Agriculture - Envirothon 2014

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Andie Tong

on 15 March 2014

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Transcript of Sustainable Agriculture - Envirothon 2014

Local and Regional Foods Systems
Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable Agriculture and its Indicators
Ecosystem Functions & Services
Sustainable Practices
Organic Agriculture
promotes job growth and entrepreneurship in rural areas
food money = powerful investment tool
profitablity contributes to economic well-being of area
Community Benefits
- Community Supported Agriculture - consumers buy "shares" like a subscription
Food Hubs
- buy produce from >50 family farms, distributes to schools, hospitals, grocers, restaurants
Farmers' Markets
- provides opportunity for farms of all sizes, variety of products, diverse consumers
- local farmers supply schools and engage in educational activites
The supplemental release of natural enemies to an area.
The two types include inoculative release and inundative release.
In inoculative release relatively few natural enemies may be released at a critical time of the season
In indundative release millions may be released

Produce an abundant amount of biomass, starch, and sugars.
They support the growth of anaerobic digesters, which decompose manure into “biogas” fuel.
They also increase the soils’ ability to build up the amount of carbon stored.
Examples: corn, switch grass, soybeans, and willow
Bio diesel - A vegetable oil-or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of chemically reacting lipids with an alcohol producing fatty acid esters.
Renewable Fuel - Produced from renewable resources including bio fuel and hydrogen fuel. They can be synthesized by renewable resources.
Reduce contribution to carbon cycle
Emit less greenhouse gases

Bio diesel and other renewable fuel sources
Building on landscapes where there is more shade and use evaporative cooling.
Less money
Natural lighting
Natural summer cooling and winter heating
Optimize building insulation and
Uses plants attractive to pests to entice them away from the cash crop. Crops are staggered in both place and the planting date
Increased crop quality
More beneficial insects
Enhances biodiversity
Reduces insecticide use
Leaf-footed bugs eat the sorghum rather than tomatoes
Harlequin bugs (stink bugs) eat the mustard rather than collards
Cucumber Beetles eat the Baby Blue and New England Hubbard squashes rather than the squash cash crop

Trap Cropping
Trap Cropping
Understand integrated pest management and biological pest control techniques used to prevent insect pest, disease, and weed problems.
Is a low-pressure, high efficiency irrigation system that uses buried drip tubes or drip tape to meet crop water needs. It is extremely suitable for arid, hot, or windy conditions as water is applied directly to the roots.
Soil erosion is lessened
Saves water and improves yields by eliminating evaporation and reducing the incidence of disease and weeds.
Some crops benefit from the additional heat, producing more crop biomass.
Sub-Surface Drip Irrigation
Matches synthetic fertilizer to crop needs. Uses a GPS to determine the precise location and then create a map of the variables (crop yield, topography, organic matter content, moisture and nutrient levels, etc.). Once the variables for the different location the farmer can match the synthetic fertilizer to the crops’ needs.
Decreases expenditure of excess fertilizers, and thus pollution.
Improved crop yields
Better information for records and management decisions

Precision Agriculture
Plants are chosen that match the garden’s environment. The main, or general, environmental factors to be matched include: sun or shade exposure, wet or dry locations, and exposure to foot traffic or windy conditions.
Other factors include: plant type, plant width and height, texture, form, seasonal interest, flower color, use, growth, diseases, insects, and soil
USDA Climate-Zone Map helps determine which plant to choose based on winter hardiness (ours is Zone 9a : 20 to 25 (F))
Plants thrive and less work is put into their life
By matching the plant to the environment one cuts down on water use
Crop Rotations
Cover Crops
Conservation Tillage
Management Intensive Grazing Systems

Comprehension of farming practices that build soil organic matter
How sustainable Farming practices enhance and protect soil health, water quality and quantity, and biodiversity. Along with managing insect pests, disease, and weeds.
Sustainable Practices
Growing, selling, and buying food locally, while using vehicles that use less fuel per mile.
Reduces transportation costs
Supports local market and economy
Improves air and water quality
Reduce transportation/ fuel-efficient vehicles
Optimize building insulation and ventilation
Use energy-efficient appliances
Conduct whole-farm energy audit
Reduce transportation
Fuel crops
Bio diesel and other renewable fuel sources
Minimize use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides
Use renewable energy
Enumerate ways farmers can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by increasing farm efficiency and using alternative fuels
Keeping the population of naturally occurring pests steady. This can be done by changing the habitat to be suitable to the pest and providing host plants.
Little disruption to environment
Introducing a pests’ enemies to an area where they do not naturally occur. This process is usually more effective with exotic pests than native pests. Imported pests are put through a trial period and quarantined to be sure they will have the desired effect and not produce an unwanted organism.
Increased biodiversity

Sustainable use of effluent from waste water treatment plants for beneficial purposes.
Organic Reduction:  Waste-water organic matter is digested by microorganisms As the matter is broken, the less biodegradable compounds remain. The treated effluent may be discharged into waterways that dilute the pollutants or applied to land in controlled conditions. A trickling filter plant is an example of a technology that utilizes an organic reduction method.
Conventional Filtration:  Water may be filtered by allowing it to seep through media. Filters need to be backwashed regularly to remove the build-up of contaminants they collect so that they maintain their efficiency.
In arid regions, the use of locally produced recycled water reduces greenhouse emissions
Helps decrease unnecessary, harmful discharge
Water Re-use
Conservation Tillage
Cover Crops
Plant Selection
Precision Agriculture
Water Re-use
Sub-surface Drip Irrigation
Understand Irrigation Best Management Practices that Reduce Water Use
 When ruminant and non-ruminant herds regularly and systematically move to fresh rested areas to graze. It allows for sections of a field to recover from the negative effects of the grazing animals.
Maximizes the quality and quantity of forage growth
Replenishes nutrient in the soil
Vegetation to renews energy reserves, rebuilds shoot systems, and deepens root systems
Parasites die without the animals, no use for de-wormers or pesticides
Long-term biomass production

Any method of soil cultivation that leaves the previous year’s crop residue on the fields before and after planting the next year’s crop.
No-till-planting crops directly into the residue that has not been tilled
Strip-till-planting crops directly into the residue that has only been tilled in small, narrow strips
Ridge-till-planting grows crops on ridges, where the residue has been cleared off the top into adjacent furrows
Mulch-till-leaves 1/3 of the residue on the soil surface
Reduces soil erosion by 60-90%
Improves soil and water quality
Reduces evaporation at the soil surface
Management Intensive Grazing
Cover crops are grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil. They are not grown to be harvested or sold, but instead cover the ground where no other plants are being grown. These include rye, clover, drilling radish, and hairy vetch to name a few.
Reduce soil erosion near plants grown for sale or harvesting.
Capture nutrients in the soil for future crops
Increase soil organic matter
Reduce pests and weeds
Provide habitat for beneficial organisms, including pollinators
Increase soil’s water-holding capacity, thus making the crops simultaneously less vulnerable to drought
Cover Crops
Crop Rotation- growing a greater diversity of crops throughout the year.
Multi-year, multi-crop rotations produce high-yields of each crop, control pests and weeds, and enhance soil fertility.
Soil fertility is enhanced because of the independence of the crops from synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides.
Nitrogen-produing legumes producing longer lasting nitrogen than that in synthetic fertilizers, leaving the soil healthier and the water healthier
Bioenergy crops included in the rotation enhance the soil by increasing growth of various soil organisms and produce a source of energy

Crop Rotations
Is a soil amendment, or medium, that can be used to grow plants. It is a stable material that is made by combining organic wastes and bulking agents (to accelerate the breakdown of the organic matter). Compost matter is also known as humus.

Conservation Tillage
Plant Selection
Fuel Crops
Native bees and feral bees are the most effective and ideal pollinators.
Bees are the ideal pollinators because unlike butterflies and other pollinators, they make sure that correct pollen is transferred from plant to plant.
It's important to increase the diversity of native bees, so that farmers have a large variety to depend on.
Long-term profitability
Environmental stewardship
Quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and society
can work in cold, wet conditions
use buzz pollination
hybrid seed production
Habitat of Native Bees
3 Basic Requirements
What are they?
1) Access to a diversity of plants with overlapping blooming times in various shapes and sizes
2) A place to nest.
small warrens of tunnels and cells
small cavities in tree boles
under clumps of fallen grass
3) Protection from pesticides
Local & Regional Food Systems - centralize all activities associated with producing, processing, distributing, and marketing foods
"Local" vs. "Regional" - depends on community
Agroforestry Connection
Agroforestry practices increase the overall diversity of plants and physical structure in a landscape and provide habitat for native pollinators.
Flowering trees, shrubs, and insect pollinated plants can be used to create a riparian buffer
Planting specific trees like maples and black locusts for timber provide habitat for pollinators.
Agroforestry practices help reduce winds
Less wind creates elevated temps. which increases pollination time
Select species that are appropriate for the environment of the farm
Diversify crops and livestock to ensure biological stability
Protect soil quality
Efficient use of inputs
Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma
Flowers are the tools that plants use to make their seeds and these can only be produced when pollen is transferred between flowers of the same species
Flowers rely on vectors to transport pollen
wind, water, birds, insects, butterflies, bats, and other animals that visit flowers
Plants can be self-pollinating(fertilize itself) or cross-pollinating(need vectors to transport pollen)
Most common pollinators: bees, butterflies, flies, hummingbirds, and bats.
Recycling/composting waste
Polyculture farming
Integrated pest management
Selling food locally
Minimal dependence on subsidies
Standard of living
Control over pricing
Plan of succession
Made of sand, silt and clay. Best type-33% of each
Pore sizes are important because it's where roots grow
Permeability-how easily gases, liquids or plant roots penetrate or pass through a layer of soil
Porosity- decreases as particle size increases
Prevents soil erosion
Water conservation
Renewable resources
Crop rotation
Minimal waste
Kyle Dugan, Vandita Kumbham, Kendall Kruchten, and Andie Tong
Why are they important?
Soil pH
Free time for farmers
Safe, nutritious food
Aesthetics of community
Humane treatment of animals
Encourages involvement of future generations
0-6 acidic
7 neutral
8-14 alkaline
Most soils range from 4-10
Ideal pH is 5-5.8
As pH increases, iron decreases
Soils, because they contain a lot of iron, can rust, or if they contain a lot of water, can turn a light gray color.
Responsible for all of the different colors that are found, and creates the speckles usually found deeper in the soil.
Cation exchange capacity (CEC)
: The total amount of positive charges that the soil can absorb.

Impacts how quickly nutrients move through the profile.
Low CEC = less fertile because it cannot hold on to many nutrients, and they usually contain less clay.
Nitrogen, Water and Carbon cycles are extremely important.
3 main components of organic matter in soils:
dead and decaying forms of organic material - mainly dead plant parts
living plant parts - mostly roots
living microbes and soil animals
Humus: organic material in soil that stopped breaking down. High in nutrient content and retains moisture in soil
Role in Sustainable Farming
Permeability is used in drainage design, irrigation scheduling, and many conservation practices.
Addition of organic material should be done with care because the addition of too many nutrients can be detrimental to the soil.
A good clay, silt and sand composition can reduce erosion, runoff and help create a better drainage system.
Food shapes our lives and cities
People have become distanced in their relationship with the food they eat and where it comes from
Resources are being depleted and used faster than can be naturally replaced
What's the solution?
Soil consists of four important parts: mineral solids,
water, air, and organic matter.

Organic Production System
promotes biodiversity and biological cycles
minimal off-farm inputs
practices restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony
use sustainable practices
Sources of Fertility - Green manure, animal manure, compost
nutrients aren't readily available
Industry grows 10-15% each year
reduces use of inorganic chemicals, thus reducing pollution
shrinks impact on global climate change
drought resilience
Farmers get full retail price for food -> families can afford to stay on farm
Brings the community together
Gives knowledge and education
Quality of life
5 Important Topics
Don't farm naked!
How to build soil organic matter
Ways to conserve water
Ways to naturally solve pest infestations
And, how farms can be environmentally clean
Full transcript