In its simplest form food could be defined as any substance with the capacity to be turned into energy by living things. In its most complex, food is attributed with the power to sustain the development of human civilizations. While in its most basic form food is common and essential to all species, humans have commodified food to the extent that billions of individuals, in both the poorest and wealthiest of nations suffer from hunger. Today food is at the center of debates about health, about family farms versus industrial farms, water and land use, economics and genetically modified organisms.
?Main Image: Steer fitted with a global positioning system (GPS) collar to examine cattle responses to prescribed burns at the Central Plains Experimental Range in...
BacteriaLast Updated on 2014-10-12 18:54:28
Bacteria are any of a very large group of single-celled microorganisms that display a wide range of metabolic types, geometric shapes and environmental habitats—and niches—of occurrence. Normally only several micrometers in length, bacteria assume the form of spheres, rods, spirals and other shapes. Bacteria are found in a very broad gamut of habitats; for example, bacterial extremophiles that thrive in such places as hot springs, arctic environments, radioactive waste, deep sea oil seeps, deep Earth crustal environments, hypersaline ponds and within other living organisms. There are approximately 50 million bacterial organisms in a single gram of typical surface soil. The worldwide bacterial biomass exceeds that of all plants and animals on Earth. However, the majority of bacteria have not yet been characterised,
Bacteria are members of the prokaryote... More »
BiomassLast Updated on 2014-09-30 22:09:21
Biomass is a term in ecology for the mass of living organisms in a given ecosystem. Biomass can refer to the living stock of species in a given habitat, but can also refer to a harvested subset or to a decaying subset (especially in the case of forest floor detritus). Biomass may refer to the total mass of all species within the study area, and is thus sometimes called community biomass; but biomass may also refer to a taxonomic subset. Biomass can be expressed as the average mass per unit area or unit volume, or simply as the total mass in the community. Plants characteristically comprise the greatest part of the biomass of terrestrial system. In the animal kingdom, iIronically, the smallest creatures in an ecosystem typically represent the largest quantity of its biomass. It is important to note that the relative biomass species mix may change considerably from season... More »
Food SecurityLast Updated on 2014-09-24 23:01:45
A comprehensive definition of food security that is widely accepted today is that “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life"1. It follows from this definition that individuals and families who are not food-secure are likely to be hungry, undernourished or malnourished, poor, and living in places that are distant from well-stocked and functional food markets. These characteristics can often be observed directly or assessed through household survey methods.
While measures of nutritional status such as low height for age or low weight for height, average availability of food translated into calories available/day, per capita incomes, or distance from a market do not fully define food security, observations or... More »
AgricultureLast Updated on 2014-09-15 23:44:27Agriculture includes cultivation of crops as tending of livestock for the purpose of production of food and fiber for humans. Mankind began to cultivate food crops about 10,000 years ago. Prior to that time, hunter-gatherers secured their food as they traveled in the nearby environment. When they observed some of the grains left behind at their campsites sprouting and growing to harvest, they began to cultivate these grains. From these humble beginnings agriculture began. Slash and burn, an early type of crop culture, remains today a truly sustainable agriculture, one that is independent of fossil fuel energy. In such a system, about ten hectares of productive land is held in fallow for each planted hectare. With this rotation system, a hectare is planted once every 20 years, allowing the soil to reaccumulate vital plant nutrients. Although the practice requires large acreages and large... More »
AgroforestryLast Updated on 2014-09-08 22:31:15
Agroforestry is the deliberate incorporation of trees and other woody species of plants into other types of agricultural activities. By definition the use of woody species must result in the enhancement of either the biological productivity or the economic return of the system, or both. There are many types of agroforestry, which are usually defined by what type of agricultural activity is involved, but this can be a very broad definition and includes what we normally think of as agriculture (agroforestry), but also other combinations such as livestock production (sylvo-pastoral agroforestry) and even aquaculture (sylvo-aqua agroforestry). Even more complicated versions are possible such as agricultural systems that incorporate livestock, trees and aquaculture (sylvo-pastoral-aqua agroforestry).
In addition, agroforestry systems may be classified based on four interrelated... More »
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