The major agricultural challenges facing us today are to achieve sustainable production of crops and domestic animals; to distribute food adequately around the world and to decrease negative environmental effects of agriculture; and avoid creating new kinds of environmental problems as agriculture advances. After reading this chapter, you should understand:
- What it means to take an ecological perspective on agriculture.
- How agroecosystems differ from natural ecosystems.
- How the food supply depends on the environment.
- What role limiting factors play in determining crop yield and what the likelihood is that water will become the major limiting factor for crop growth in the next decade for many areas of the world.
- How the growing human population, the loss of fertile souls, and the lack of water for irrigation can affect future food shortages worldwide.
- What are the possibilities and limitations of some of techniques of modern agriculture that may lead to increased food production.
- What is the relative importance of food distribution and food production.
- What are the potential benefits and environmental effects of genetic engineering of crops.