Agroecology is defined as the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable food systems. Hence, learning can best be achieved through an experiential approach to the topic.
Designed to accompany Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition, Field and Laboratory Investigations in Agroecology, Third Edition features 24 investigations divided into five sections that parallel the main text:
- Studies of Environmental Factors: These investigations deal with how an individual plant responds to the environment, how environmental factors in specific agroecosystems are measured and characterized, and how particular environmental factors affect individual plants.
- Studies of Population Dynamics in Crop Systems: This section studies how populations of organisms act in agroecosystems. It focuses on what populations are present, how they change over time and respond to the environment, and how individuals within a population may interact.
- Studies of Interspecific Interactions in Cropping Communities: This section emphasizes the between-species interactions of the organisms that make up crop communities. These interactions include herbivory, allelopathy, and mutualisms.
- Studies of Farm and Field Systems: These investigations cover system-level agroecology and whole farms or systems within farm boundaries. They touch on the complexity with which the farmer deals in managing agroecosystems.
- Food System Studies: These investigations reach out beyond the individual farm to examine components of the food system at a local level, which impact all of the levels of analysis in the first four parts.
This manual facilitates hands-on learning that involves close observation, creative interpretation, and constant questioning of findings. The investigations emphasize the importance of careful data interpretation and presentation and the value of a clear, concise, and well-written research report. The book uses simple statistical analysis for data management and interpretation and students are guided through the steps of data analysis in the context of the particular investigations in which it is employed.
Studies of Environmental Factors
Effect of Microclimate on Seed
Light Transmission and the Vegetative Canopy
Soil Moisture Content
Soil Properties Analysis
Canopy Litterfall Analysis
Mulch System Comparison
Root System Response to Soil Type
Studies of Population Dynamics in Crop Systems
Intraspecific Interactions in a Crop Population
Management History and the Weed Seedbank
Comparison of Arthropod Populations
Census of Soil-Surface Fauna
Studies of Interspecific Interactions in Cropping Communities
Bioassay for Allelopathic Potential
Rhizobium Nodulation in Legumes
Effects of Agroecosystem Diversity on Herbivore Activity
Herbivore Feeding Preferences
Effects of a Weedy Border on Insect Populations
Studies of Farm and Field Systems
Mapping Agroecosystem Biodiversity
Overyielding in an Intercrop System
Grazing Intensity and Net Primary Productivity
Effects of Trees in an Agroecosystem
Food System Studies
On-Farm Energy Use
Local Food Market Analysis
Appendix A: Planning the Field and Laboratory Course
Appendix B: Measurement Equivalents
Appendix C: Material and Equipment Suppliers
Stephen R. Gliessman is an agroecologist who integrates science, practice, and social activism. He helped establish agroecology in Mexico in the 1970’s and founded the first academic program in agroecology in the world at UCSC in 1982, where he is now Emeritus Professor of Agroecology. He co-founded the non-profit Community Agroecology Network (CAN). Professor Gliessman has published extensively on agroecology and the transformation of food systems to sustainability, including his textbook Agroecology: Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems. He teaches agroecology seminars and courses around the world and dry-farms sustainable wine grapes and olives with his family at their farm in California.
"This excellent book accompanies Stephen Gliessman's Agroecology textbook. Its purpose is to give students opportunities to gain direct experience with the concepts that make up agroecology, its application, and its principles of design and management. [...] This is a valuable manual, and vital for all concerned with learning and teaching in agricultural courses. It deserves to be widely used."
– Jules Pretty OBE, Experimental Agriculture