Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 quarters
A basic understanding of agriculture, with its central role in civilization, is a critical part of a liberal arts education. The United Nations recently announced that agricultural production should increase 70% by the year 2050 to meet development and consumption projections; do you understand the demand this will place on natural resources and the role of agricultural sciences in responding to this challenge? Can you explain the biology, chemistry, and technology that underlie agricultural production systems? Whatever your philosophical and political perspectives may be on food and agriculture, it is essential to have a fundamental understanding of agricultural sciences and technology to foster informed debate about one of the most critical and pressing planetary issues - agriculture.
Focusing on key Northwest crop and livestock species such as orchard fruit, wheat, potatoes, cattle, and poultry, this program will teach the fundamentals of agricultural science. During fall quarter, day and overnight field trips will take students to a variety of agriculture operations and processing/storage facilities in the Pacific Northwest to learn about key species and to familiarize ourselves with intensification technologies commonly utilized by organic and conventional farms, such as mechanization, irrigation, herbicides, pesticides, and biotechnology. Students will study the anatomy and physiology of animals and plants in order to learn how things grow and function in response to nutrients and other environmental variables that are managed in farming systems. The basic chemistry required to understand plant and animal nutrition, nutrient cycling and fertilizers will be taught. Applied and environmental microbiology will be taught to learn about the role of microbes in nutrient cycling, and to show examples of how plant-microbe and animal-microbe interactions are managed to optimize the nutrition and health of crops and livestock.
In winter quarter we will continue our disciplinary studies and integrate an understanding of plants, animals, microbes, and chemistry to learn the science of soil conservation. This will focus on organic matter management via the utilization of animal manure, compost, crop residues, cover crops, and conservation tillage. Taking a systems approach to combine learning in biology, chemistry, technology, and farm management, we will address on-farm energy flow and nutrient cycling to understand how farms may increase production while minimizing fossil fuel use, pollution, and soil loss.
Program format will consist of lectures, readings, and labs that relate to what students see firsthand on fieldtrips. In Winter quarter, a week-long field trip to California’s vast agricultural production areas and the World Ag Expo will serve to integrate program themes. Students unable to participate in the California field trip will complete a case study project to remain eligible to earn full credit.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day