Ecological Agriculture: Crop Botany and Plant Genetics
Fall 2015 quarter
How do seeds form? How do plants develop from seeds? How do plants adapt to particular environmental conditions? The modification of plant evolution by human selection has played a major role in the history of agriculture. Ecological agriculture is based on an understanding of plant biology, either through the grazing of livestock or the growing of food crops. This program focuses on the science of crop botany and genetics as a basis for propagation, seed-saving, and plant breeding.
In one strand, the basic life cycle and reproductive botany of crop members of the most important plant families will be explored. This systematic survey will make connections to their center of diversity and origin. In a second strand, the principles of plant breeding will be presented through an introduction to Mendelian and quantitative genetics. Some of the agricultural methods of plant reproduction, by both sexual and vegetative propagation, will be considered. Readings may include Kingsbury's Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding, Nabhan's Where Our Food Comes From, and Navazio’s The Organic Seed Grower.
The adaptation of crop plants to specific environments, especially in this era of climate change, becomes increasingly critical for the future of sustainable agriculture. Laboratory and field experiments, as well as field trips to local farms and plant breeding centers, will provide an applied context for our inquiry.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day