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Semester 2 - Online
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Currently, there is more than sufficient food produced on a global scale to feed the population. This has been an upward trend throughout agricultural history, whereby humans have altered their cultivation habits to produce more. However, the continued rise in productivity is unlikely to continue under current systems within which resources are finite. The full impacts of this on a global scale are yet to be experienced by much of the population, largely in developed areas, although viability has dropped in many food producing systems due to increases in input costs of fuel, water, fertilizers and pest and disease control. Meanwhile, at the regional scale, food production systems are already found to be unsustainable with dropping productivity in previously fertile and highly productive areas. The reasons for the production declines are varied and complex, ranging from climate impacts to unsustainable cultivation methods leading to land degradation, reduced fertility and biodiversity required for healthy ecosystems.
This subject will explore the biological issues contributing to the reduction of productivity we are currently observing in these fragile agricultural systems and explore the future issues that are likely to impact on systems thought to currently be more stable. We will thereby understand the components that contribute to sustainable food productivity and learn which of these are most unsustainable and will require future investment in systems change to maintain productivity.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- understand sustainable and unsustainable agricultural practices
- describe the existing agricultural land use and food availability and linkage between increasing human population and climate change and excess pressure on agricultural systems
- explain the importance of biodiversity conservation in agriculture and preventive strategies for biodiversity conservation
- demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of sustainable practices needed to maintain long term food availability from existing agroecoystems
- differentiate different types of sustainable agriculture practices in crop production and animal husbandry and what progress has so far been achieved in improving the sustainability of intensive and organic production systems in under different scenarios within the developing and developed world
- demonstrate the role of new generation technologies and how they will aid the existing conventional technologies to maintain the food availability in resource constrained systems
- A profound respect for truth, intellectual and professional integrity, and the ethics of scholarship
- Develop problem solving skills, sharpen analytic skills
- Capacity for independent critical thought, rational inquiry and self-directed learning and research
- Develop the ability to work as a team member
- An ability to derive, interpret and analyse social, technical or economic information from primary and other sources
- Awareness of and ability to utilise appropriate communication technology and methods for the storage, management and analysis of data
- Capacity for creativity and innovation, through the application of skills and knowledge
- Ability to integrate information across sustainable food production systems to solve problems in applied situations across globe
- Highly developed computer - based skills to allow for effective on-line learning and communication
- Highly developed written communication skills to allow informed dialogue with individuals and groups from industry, government and the community
Last updated: 8 May 2021