Alternative Cropping Systems
Sustainable Production Systems
Organic Cropping Systems
Sustainable, Organic and Alternative Cropping Systems
- Distinguish between the concepts involved in sustainable, alternative,
and organic agriculture
- Identify and characterize the 3 realms of sustainable systems
- Define the requirements for food to be labelled "organic"
- Determine the impact of sustainable, alternative, and organic systems on
- Complete and submit Assignment #6.
Sustainable and Alternative Production Systems
The overriding philosophy of agriculture during the 20th century seemed
to be "get bigger, become more specialized, and focus on the large
scale markets." Large farms bought out or leased land from smaller
farmers, corporations bought out farming families, grower cooperatives
formed to take advantage of common marketing strategies, and production
focused on specialized cropping systems that offered significant profits.
Big business attitudes with a focus toward efficiency replaced the family
farming culture. Competition for market windows among the large corporate
producers in this country and from foreign markets squeezed all producers
so that profit margins became very narrow.
In the early 1990's a movement toward what is believed to be a more "sustainable" cropping
system was started with federal government initiatives into LISA (low-input
sustainable agriculture) that later became SARE (sustainable agriculture
research and extension). These programs focused on economic and sociological
as well as environmental consequences of modern production systems. Read
the lesson on sustainable production systems including the recommended links in preparation
for assignment 8.
Organic Production Systems
Proponents of organic gardening and organic agriculture are often viewed
with disdain by traditional agricultural producers, both animal and crop.
Science and technology have given producers a very powerful arsenal against
diseases and other pests, and high-yield agriculture is viewed to be
completely dependent on chemicals to achieve their production efficiency
and the profits to stay in business. A growing number of individuals are
seeking food and clothing produced "organically." Government regulators have now
set down rules that define what "organic" means, so that "organic
produce" grown in Maryland, Minnesota, and Mexico has approximately
the same freedom from pesticide residues. Because organic generally commands
a premium price at the checkout counter, the regulatory and inspection
processes have become very important. Labelling and marketing also have
become imperative. Read the text and related links in the Organic Cropping
Systems unit with
attention to issues such as:
- How is organic different from traditional production?
- Who inspects and certifies organic production?
- How can you tell if a tomato is an "organic" tomato?
- Would a grower make money by switching to organic production?