The topic of agriculture is one that takes up little time in the normal scope and sequence of most classrooms these days. It may in fact be one of the most important concepts that can be taught to students because of the many practical applications and the impact that it has on our lives and our food security.
Effects on the Economy: According to the US Department of Agriculture, agriculture contributes in large part to the US economy. Here are just a few examples of the impact agriculture has:
- Agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed $789 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, equivalent to a 4.7% share
- Agricultural production is a major use of land, accounting for over half of the U.S. land base
- American households spend 13% of their income on food.
- Agriculture and its related industries provide 9.2 % of U.S. employment
- Food manufacturing accounts for 14% of all U.S. manufacturing employees
Effects on the Labor Force: According to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat15.htm#cps_eeann_emp_ ag_nonag_cow.f.1) the total number of workers employed in U.S. agriculture-related jobs in 2014, was more than 2.3 million people. The jobs that they held included agriculture and food scientists, food science technicians, agricultural workers, agricultural inspectors, agricultural managers and agricultural engineers, who are improving technology to allow farmers to be more precise and efficient.
Crop growth is based on the right nutrients being available to the plant at the right time. These nutrients, along with energy from the sun and moisture in the ground, are constantly on the minds of farmers. Although sprayers are not new technology, they are changing as precision agriculture continues to grow in usage. Farmers desire better control of the chemical applications and companies like TeeJet.com are working to provide the tools to do the job.
Lately, water quality issues have gained increased coverage in the media. This coverage and recent events have begun to lead to increased regulations. Farmers, always invested in maintaining soil and water quality for themselves and their neighbors, are increasingly pressed to understand the process of applying the right chemical, in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right place to assure that the production environment has optimum growing conditions without creating adverse effects to the environment.
<small>*A <em>threaded PBL</em> provides a way in which content knowledge is developed over the scope of a class that culminates in a real life problem and is relevant to a real world problem. The sequence is not based on a textbook; it is based on what has been deemed an appropriate sequence that exposes students to the content necessary: in this case, a college preparatory Environmental Science or AP Environmental Science class, yet it could be applied to many other classes, as well.</small>