Technology: Development of Agriculture and its Great Dilemmas

The coming of Agriculture
‡ The agricultural stage of human cultural evolution saw the development of technology that ascended to such height as to change the face of the Earth.

‡ Around 10,000 B.C., in the age known as Neolithic, humans evolved in a way of life that was more secure ‡ They domesticated animals and cultivated plants that served their needs for food. ‡ Their new ways served other needs as well.

‡ They settled for longer periods at a time in a given area ‡ They would clear it, sow seeds and stay for as many seasons as the soil yielded adequate harvest.

Sustaining Fertility ‡ In time, agriculture became more settled in permanent locations. ‡ This meant sustaining the fertility of the soil over successive planting seasons. ‡ Early systems might have done this by returning nutrients to the soil

Commercial Agriculture
‡ Involves processes that emphasize efficiency. ‡ Inorganic synthethic fertilizers are used, often imported from other countries. ‡ The biogeochemical cycle takes longer

‡ Impact: The environmental impact of agriculture is multi-faceted. multi‡ Agricultural land was expanded at the expense of natural ecosystems

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡

Forests cleared Wetlands drained Coastal waters ³reclaimed´ Rivers rechanneled Dams for irrigation Thus, literally, the face of the Earth changed

Agricultural Milestone: The Green Revolution
‡ The Green Revolution which developed in the 1960s from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Los Banos, Laguna. ‡ The Green Revolution of Rice was a largelargescale application of scientific inventions to food production.

‡ The goal of the program was to increase production of rice, the staple of the large portion of the humanity.

HighHigh-yielding Varieties
High‡ High-yielding varieties (HYVs) are any of a group of genetically enhanced cultivars of crops such as rice, corn and wheat that have an increased growth rate ‡ An increased percentage of usable plant parts or an increased resistance against crop diseases.

High Yield Hybrid
‡ The first component of the technology was the development of high yielding varieties (HYVs) ‡ Hybrids that defied the constraints imposed by nature.

‡ Varieties were developed that were shorter with stronger stems and roots ‡ This was done to support more grains that resulted from large doses of fertilizers and therefore more crops could be grown in one year.

‡ They matured faster and thus could withstand strong winds or yielded grains that could be harvested earlier before the onset of the typhoon season

‡ Thus, the HYVs had to be nurtured with chemicals-synthetic fertilizers and pesticides were outcome of the Green Revolution

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Pesticides can contribute to air pollution . ‡ Pesticide drift occurs when pesticides suspended in the air as particles are carried by wind to other areas, potentially contaminating them.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Pesticides that are applied to crops can volatilize and may be blown by winds into nearby areas, potentially posing a threat to wildlife.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Also, droplets of sprayed pesticides or particles from pesticides applied as dusts may travel on the wind to other areas

‡ Ground spraying produces less pesticide drift than aerial spraying does ‡ Aerial spraying brings to much environmental problem

Effects of pesticides to the environment
Water Pollution ‡ There are major routes through which pesticides reach the water: ‡ it may drift outside of the intended area when it is sprayed

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ it may percolate, or leach, through the soil ‡ it may be carried to the water as runoff ‡ it may be spilled, for example accidentally or through neglect

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ They may also be carried to water by eroding soil

Effects of pesticides to the environment
Soil ‡ Many of the chemicals used in pesticides are persistent soil contaminants, whose impact may endure for decades and adversely affect soil conservation

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ The use of pesticides decreases the general biodiversity in the soil. ‡ Not using the chemicals results in higher soil quality, with the additional effect that more organic matter in the soil allows for higher water retention.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
Plants ‡ Nitrogen fixation, which is required for the growth of higher plants, is hindered by pesticides in soil.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ The insecticides DDT, methyl parathion, and especially pentachlorophenol have been shown to interfere with some plant chemical signaling ‡ Reduction of this symbiotic chemical signaling results in reduced nitrogen fixation and thus reduced crop yields.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Pesticides can kill bees and are strongly implicated in pollinator decline ‡ The loss of species that pollinate plants

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Animals may be poisoned by pesticide residues that remain on food after spraying ‡ Example when wild animals enter sprayed fields or nearby areas shortly after spraying

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Widespread application of pesticides can eliminate food sources that certain types of animals need ‡ Causing the animals to relocate, change their diet, or starve.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Poisoning from pesticides can travel up the food chain; ‡ For example, birds can be harmed when they eat insects and worms that have consumed pesticides.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Some pesticides can bioaccumulate, or build up to toxic levels in the bodies of organisms that consume them over time ‡ A phenomenon that impacts species high on the food chain especially hard

Effects of pesticides to the environment
Birds ‡ Loss of bird species due to bioaccumulation of pesticides in their tissues

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Some pesticides come in granular form, and birds and other wildlife may eat the granules, mistaking them for grains of food. ‡ A few granules of a pesticide is enough to kill a small bird.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
Fish ‡ Fish and other aquatic biota may be harmed by pesticide-contaminated water. ‡ Pesticide surface runoff into rivers and streams can be highly lethal to aquatic life, sometimes killing all the fish in a particular stream

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Pesticides can accumulate in bodies of water to levels that kill off zooplankton, the main source of food for young fish. ‡ Pesticides can kill off the insects on which some fish feed, causing the fish to travel farther in search of food and exposing them to greater risk from predators.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Amphibians ‡ In the past several decades, decline in amphibian populations has been occurring all over the world ‡ Unexplained reasons which are thought to be varied but of which pesticides may be a part.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ Mixtures of multiple pesticides appear to have a cumulative toxic effect on frogs. ‡ Tadpoles from ponds with multiple pesticides present in the water take longer to metamorphose into frogs and are smaller when they do ‡ Decreasing their ability to catch prey and avoid predators

Effects of pesticides to the environment
‡ A Canadian study showed that exposing tadpoles to endosulfan ‡ An organochloride pesticide at levels that are likely to be found in habitats near fields sprayed with the chemical kills the tadpoles and causes behavioral and growth abnormalities.

Effects of pesticides to the environment
Pesticide resistance ‡ Pests may evolve to become resistant to pesticides. ‡ Many pests will initially be very susceptible to pesticides, but some with slight variations in their genetic makeup are resistant and therefore survive to reproduce. ‡ Through natural selection, the pests may eventually become very resistant to the pesticide.

‡ Another was monocropping or monoculture, the planting of vast areas to only one crop.

‡ Monoculture sets the stage for infestation ‡ Insects feeding on the particular crop proliferate to pest proportions, fed by the bountiful food. ‡ To attack infestation, artificial chemical pesticides were developed and massively used.

‡ The unintended effect was the poisoning of birds, worms, bacteria, and other organism, not to mention humans that are near the fields. ‡ Likewise, fish, snails, ducks, and other creatures that inhabit the waterways into which the pesticides drain were affected.

Effects ‡ Eutrophication of bodies of water ‡ Acidity of the soil

‡ The use of hybrid varieties has depressed the use of native strains ‡ Along with habitat and ecological change and direct poisoning neglect threatens their extinction

‡ In general, they require a higher level of agricultural care ‡ Intensive disease control ‡ Higher fertilizer levels ‡ Controlled water supply

‡ While those crops have enabled the multiplication of agricultural production - Their increased demands of: 1.fertilizers 2. pesticides 3. water control ‡ This have drawn criticism from environmentalists.

‡ Adopted in many countries especially in Southeast Asia, the Green Revolution dramatically increased rice production for the world. ‡ It is also a definitive illustration of ecological backlash

‡ Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area

‡ Monocultures used in agriculture are usually single strains that have been bred to be high yield and resistant to certain common diseases ‡ As all plants in a monoculture are almost entirely genetically identical ‡ If a disease strikes to which they have no resistance ‡ It can destroy entire populations of crops,

‡ Whereas in a polyculture, some portion of the crop will usually survive due to natural variation giving some of them resistance ‡ There is increasing support for moving away from monocultures towards a mixture of varieties as a way to limit the impacts of disease to these sorts of crops

‡ Some studies have shown planting a mixture of crop strains in the same field to be effective at combatting disease

Agricultural Milestone: Genetic Engineering and GMOs
‡ Genetic engineering (GE), which produces genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ‡ Foods genetically modified in order to absolutely ensure certain traits in plants.

‡ These traits could be pest resistance, nutrient and vitamin quantity ‡ Attractiveness in color and size ‡ Involves the insertion of a foreign gene into the genes of a host species. ‡ The foreign gene may be from a different strain of the same species or from other species.

Bt Corn
‡ Bt Corn is also called Transgenic maize corn and is a GM (genetically modified) crop. ‡ Bt corn thanks its name to the gene inserted into its DNA that codes for the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin which protects the corn from insects. ‡ The gene was isolated from the Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a microorganism found in soil.

‡ Bt corn is also resistant to herbicides, which makes it possible to use herbicides without damaging or killing the crop itself. ‡ Insecticides are no longer necessary with Bt corn, because the introduction of the Bt gene protects it from pests.

‡ The pest that usually affects corn production is the European Corn Borer. ‡ The Bt toxin crystallizes the digestive tract of the insect larvae, which leads to their death.

GE Foods: Problems
‡ Issues on the negative effects on humans and other organisms, or as they disrupt the balance of nature

‡ A population of the monarch butterfly was affected when pollen of Bt corn was carried by wind to milkweed plants where caterpillars of the monarch butterfly were feeding.

‡ Contamination is a big worry. ‡ GE pollen can be carried by wind, water, and other agents including humans many kilometers and around the world. ‡ They can contaminate the wide varieties, threatening the biodiversity of the planet.

Human Rights
‡ Contamination may well, bring up human right issues . ‡ Pharmagenes, genes altered or inserted into vegetables to turn them into vaccines or antibiotics can find their ways into food of people who do not need them or who do not want them

‡ Scientist have predicted that because of the havoc that GE would wreak on nature ‡ Mutation rates would increase because of the alien substances that the chemicals, bacteria, hormones, and cells in our bodies will not recognize.

EcoEco-political Implications
‡ Under the rules of Intellectual property Rights, ³created´ life forms may be patented. ‡ When GMO seeds are patented, they may not be planted without payment of royalties.

EcoEco-political Implications
‡ Thus, farmers will have to buy new seeds every planting season. ‡ They will get caught in the web of dependency on the new varieties and the attendant commercial infrastructure.

Agri Developments : Social Changes
‡ Agriculture resulted in food security ‡ Human survival and population increase ‡ With food people could turn their attention to other pursuits

Agri Developments : Social Changes
‡ A new social and physical organization evolved ‡ The towns where people converged and interacted to feed their intellectual, artistic, commercial and other interests. ‡ Through history, these concentrations of people have grown ever larger into cities and megacities.

Agri Developments and Economic Changes
‡ Among the occupations that arose as a result of the freedom that ³bondage´ to the soil was that of the merchant. ‡ Goods grown or crafted were not just bartered between those who crafted and grew the goods. ‡ There arose the middleman class.

Agri Developments and Economic Changes
Early Form of Capitalism: ‡ Its impact on the environment was unprecedented plunder ‡ In western societies from 15th to the 19th century, wildlife was assaulted ‡ Trade in fur of large animals caused the killing of millions of sable, beavers, wolves, otters, racoons, bears





The Effect of Exploration
Agriculture ‡ Monoculture ‡ Deforestation ‡ Clearing of Land by Fire

The Effect of Exploration
‡ On the top of the ecological devastation was the mindset attendant to colonization ‡ The powerful treated their fellow human as slaves.

Sustainable Systems
‡ In view of the negative impacts of modern agriculture ‡ Many farmers are turning or returning to strategies that are more ecological at the same time improving their socioeconomic situation

Sustainable Systems
Organic Farming ‡ True organic farming utilizes species that are locally available and are therefore suited to environmental conditions.

Sustainable Systems
‡ Organic Farming optimizes the use of biological processes 1. By nurturing the natural predators of pests 2. Keeping the soil healthy with beneficial microorganisms 3. Allowing wild species from nearby natural ecosystems to pollinate crops

4. It encourages variety in space, through practices known as alternate cropping, multi-cropping, and so forth, and variety in time through crop rotation

Lyrics to Bahay Kubo :
Bahay kubo, kahit munti ang halaman doon ay sari-sari Singkamas at talong Sigarilyas at mani Sitaw, bataw, patani Kundol, patola, upo't kalabasa At saka meron pang Labanos, mustasa Sibuyas, kamatis Bawang at luya Sa paligid ligid Ay maraming linga

System of Rice Intensification
‡ System of Rice Intensification translated into Sistema ng Pagpapalago ng Palay ‡ In 1983, the beneficial effect of transplanting very young seedlings, less than 15 days old, was discovered serendipitously

‡ Subsequently, when fertilizer prices increased, compost made from any decomposed biomass turned out to give even better results than chemical fertilizer.


The synthesis of SRI has proceeded empirically, but the central principles for getting best results are: 1. rice field soils should be kept moist rather than continuously saturated -This improves root growth and supports the growth and diversity of aerobic soil organisms rice plants should be spaced optimally widely to permit more growth of roots and canopy and to keep all leaves photosynthetically active

2. rice seedlings should be transplanted when young, less than 15 days old with just two leaves, quickly, shallow and carefully, to avoid trauma to roots and to minimize transplant shock.

3. These changes from conventional practice when managing plants, soil, water and nutrients induce more productive organism

4. Increased yield is achieved with 80-90% reductions in seed requirements (lower plant population) and 25-50% less irrigation water. ‡ Chemical fertilizer and agrochemical crop protection can be used, but best results can be attained without use of purchased inputs.

‡ One note is the bahay kubo concept, captured in the Filipino song with same title ‡ It is a celebration of how farming families meet their daily needs with vegetable staples planted in the surrounding yard.

‡ The principles of multicropping, companion cropping, crop rotation, organic fertilizers were practical knowledge gained through experience and practice instinct.

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