Posts By Jessica Vernabe
Penn State’s Ag Program Prepares Students to Tackle Tough Issues Associated with Sustainable AgricultureApril 5, 2012 | Jessica Vernabe
Pennsylvania State University has its roots in agricultural education, a focus that still remains strong today. The university’s College of Agricultural Sciences offers majors that address today’s issues of sustainability while also working to inform local farming communities about environmental issues, such as those related to the Chesapeake Bay.
Phosphorus is an important building block for all living things—but too much of the mineral can be harmful when it reaches waterways and becomes a pollutant.
Phosphorus is also one of the three core nutrients along with Nitrogen and Potassium required for plant growth. It is also irreplaceable. As the US Geological Survey notes in its 2011 Mineral Commodity Summary on Phosphorus: “There are no substitutes for phosphorus in agriculture.”
Through its Pearl® Process Technology, Vancouver, British Columbia-based Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, Inc. has come up with a solution to both recycle phosphorus and prevent it from polluting waterways.
Cornell University was once called the “The first American university” because of its accessibility to students regardless of race, social circumstances, gender or religion, university officials say.
“That was quite a departure from other institutions at that time,” said Michael Hoffmann, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He noted that many other institutions at the time Cornell was founded (1865) were just focused on educating the elite class. “(Cornell) also offered practical classes: technology and agriculture. When you stop to think about it, agriculture was a major industry in the country at that time.”
Now, Cornell University, a land-grant university, is not only focused on teaching agriculture, but sustainable agriculture in particular. Cornell has future generations in mind as it helps students prepare for careers in agriculture. It has various outlets for promoting sustainable agriculture, including its curriculum, research projects and extension activities.
The world’s population is growing rapidly, and that calls for new ways of thinking about how to produce enough food while also conserving the earth’s natural resources. As a result, agricultural entrepreneurs today are striving to combine the best of traditional farming methods with new technologies in order to create food that is healthy, flavorful and locally grown.
And if that doesn’t sound like enough of a feat, there’s also the challenge of doing it all using a business model that won’t leave the farmer broke.
Southern California has become a region of growing activity for these types of ventures, and Seedstock has attempted to provide a glimpse of what that experience looks like. A panel of agricultural entrepreneurs from the region—including those using soil, hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods—gathered at UCLA on Wednesday to share their experiences.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is busy when it comes to helping mold the future of sustainable agriculture. Officials at the university’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences say thinking about how farming can be done in a more environmentally and socially sustainable is just part of the natural flow of what the college does.
“Nobody talks about crop or animal production without thinking about sustainability and without incorporating it into their research,” said Bill Tracy, UW-Madison’s agronomy department chair and professor who recently stepped down from his post as the college’s interim dean.