Objectives, terms, and focus questions

Student objectives

            After this module, students will:

  1. Be able to define and discuss the concept of sustainable agriculture.
  2. Understand the benefits and challenges of sustainable agriculture.
  3. Be able to draw relations to issues and opportunities of sustainable agriculture occurring in Hawaii. 

Glossary of terms

Agriculture:  The cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life.

Agriculture subsidies:  Governmental money paid to farmers to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural goods, and influence the cost and supply of such goods. Corn is the most subsidized crop (for ethanol fuel) in the U.S with $7.3 billion given to support corn farmers in 2005.

Ahupuaʻa:  Usually a wedge-shaped area of land running from the uplands to the sea, where the stewardship of the land and its resources were formalized through social and spiritual systems. Because of these practices the communities maintained sustainable lifestyles.

Biodiversity:  The variation of different life forms within a given ecosystem or for the entire Earth

Biodynamic:  This is a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and relationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-nourishing system without external inputs.  

Biotechnology:  (Biotech) Any technological application that uses biological systems or living organisms, to make or modify products for specific use. For example, in agriculture this includes engineering modifications to increase crop yield or reduced vulnerability of crops to pests. 

Economic viability:  The abilities of farms and farmers to 'make a living' and sustain their operations over generations. 

Fertilizer:  Chemically processed nutrients that are added to soil or on to leaves which supply proper nutrition essential to plant growth.

Holistic:  The idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines how the parts behave.

Industrial or Conventional agriculture:  A form of modern farming that refers to the industrialized production of livestock, poultry, fish, and crops. The methods include innovation in agricultural machinery and farming methods, genetic technology, techniques for achieving economies of scale in production.  Most of the meat, dairy, eggs, fruits, and vegetables available in supermarkets are produced using these methods of industrial agriculture.  This form of agriculture generally requires high external energy inputs to achieve high crop yields.

Low input:  Minimal use of “off site” materials such as fertilizer and fuel to maintain a farm. 

Mechanized Agriculture:  The process of using machinery to replace the work that human labor once completed.  From purely human labor to mechanized labor, agricultural productivity massively increased on farms, as did farm worker productivity.  In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many jobs formerly carried out by men or animals such as oxen, horses and mules.

Monoculture:  The agricultural practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area. It is widely used in industrial agriculture.

Organic Agriculture: The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of the communities of soil life, plants, animals and people. Organic methods strictly prohibit the uses of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals.

Pesticide:  These are chemical substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying and repelling pests.

Sustainability: In the environmental context, sustainable means the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.

Focus Questions

While reading and viewing the module activities, it is important to have questions in your mind to help you extract information from the lessons.  As you begin this lesson, think about the following questions:

  1. What is sustainable agriculture and how does it differ from conventional agriculture?
  2. Why is sustainable agriculture important?
  3. What are the benefits and challenges of sustainable agriculture in Hawaii?
  4. How do you and your family fit in to the agricultural system in Hawaii and what opportunities do you see for sustainability here?

Use these questions to help guide your leaning to accomplish the student outcomes for the module.  


Last modified: Sunday, 11 December 2011, 02:44 PM
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