Plant Biology Final Exam: Environment and Agriculture

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current agricultural practices

-new crop varieties
-chemical fertilizers
-chemical pesticides
-chemical herbicides

green revolution

introduction of scientifically developed food crops that can produce high yields
-prevented starvation, but method destroyed future food production

environmental impact of agriculture

1) declining biodiversity
2) soil erosion
3) salinization
4) desertification
5) chemical fertilizers
6) pesticides

declining biodiversity

-farmers only use a few varieties for crops
-domesticated crops have less genetic diversity
-selective breeding leads to crop uniformity
-result= disease vulnerability, pests evolve quicker

soil erosion

loss of soil from tilling (plowing) and wind/water effects
-soil= organic (topsoil) and inorganic matter
-topsoil is lost, leaving subsoil
-solutions= less plowing, no-till agriculture, more perennials, less annual plants

salinization

salt build-up in soil due to irrigation
-salt can kill plants (as water evaporates, salt builds up)
-solutions= new irrigation system that delivers water directly to roots, adding water to salt-damaged land

desertification

expansion of desert into cropland
-causes= overgrazing, improper irrigation, deforestation
-solutions= drought-tolerant plants, retiring the land

chemical fertilizers

excessive use of chemical fertilizers
-decreases organic matter in soil
-leads to fertilizer pollution in soil
-solution= organic fertilizers, crop rotation with leguminous crops (nitrogen fixation)

pesticides

chemicals used to control insects, bacteria, fungi,etc
-problems
~insects are becoming resistant to pesticides
~untested for health effects
~leads to pollution of soil and water
~disrupts food chains
-solutions
~biological control (using organisms to eat the insects)
~combining chemical pesticides and biological control only when necessary

carrying capacity

maximum number of organisms that can be supported in a habitat

developed vs. developing countries

-developed countries have overnourishment
-developing countries have under/malnourishment (poverty is main cause of malnourishment)

genetic diversity

-wild populations have more genetic diversity
-domesticated populations have less genetic diversity

quinoa

staple food from south america that is high in protein and carbs

winged bean

plant from asia, all parts of the plant are edible (leaves, tendrils, flower, root, seeds)

amaranth

staple food in central america that is very high in protein

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