Module 3: Sustainable Agriculture

Overview

Sustainability is a term that means different things to different people and is not easily put into practice, yet everyone’s doing it! What do I mean by that? Well, you should take a moment to select any company you can think of and conduct a Google search of the company name with the word sustainability.  For example, search for “University of Saskatchewan” and “sustainability.”

Pause…

What did you find? Did you find companies not committed to sustainability in some way? 

Next, I challenge you to find companies that you think could not be sustained in the future (for example companies that produce non-renewable goods – goods that cannot be replaced such as oil, coal, minerals, etc.), and read what those companies have to say. 

Pause….

Do they claim to be sustainable? The answer is mostly likely a resounding “yes!” But how is that possible? How can something be sustainable, when by definition what it produces is not; what it produces is something we cannot resupply?

In its most basic form sustainability has to do with making something last. This module will set the stage for sustainable agriculture, and how we evaluate agricultural practices and decisions over the long term (greater than one year). We will also examine economic sustainability, but more importantly how the study of economics encapsulates social and environmental decisions and values, and how it’s important to look at agricultural economics as part of a larger system.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Describe the concept of sustainability
  2. Articulate the importance of the three pillars of sustainability.
  3. Use the three pillars of sustainability to discuss its application to agriculture.
  4. Identify government policies related to sustainability.

Module Instructions

For this module you are required to:

  1. First, read the landing page of org. 2014. Finding and Resolving the Root Causes of the Sustainability Problem. Accessed May 21, 2016: http://www.thwink.org/sustain/glossary/ThreePillarsOfSustainability.htm
  2. Second, read this module.
  3. Third, read the Wikipedia page on sustainable agriculture.
  4. Finally, watch the TEDTalk: Why Sustainable Farming Matters: Dean Carlson at TEDxPhoenixville: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf_mrQpN1Hw

Required Readings

Thwink.org (2014). Finding and Resolving the Root Causes of the Sustainability Problem.  Retrieved from: http://www.thwink.org/sustain/glossary/ThreePillarsOfSustainability.htm

Sustainable agriculture: Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_agriculture

Key Terms and Concepts

  • Sustainability
  • Brundtland Commission
  • Economic sustainability
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Socio-cultural sustainability
  • Agricultural sustainability