environmetal science vocabulary

soil
the mixture of disintegrated rock, organic matter, water, gases, nutrients, and microorganisms that support plant growth
parent material
the base geological material in a particular location
bedrock
the mass of solid rock that makes up Earth’s crust
weathering
the physical and chemical processes that break down rocks and minerals into smaller particles
soil horizon
a distinct layer of soil
soil profile
a cross-section of all the soil horizons in a specific soil, from surface to bedrock, in a specific area
clay
soil particles that are less than 0.002mm in diameter
silt
soil particles that are 0.002 to 0.05 mm in diameter
sand
soil particles that are 0.05 to 2 mm in diameter
loam
soil that is approximately equal parts clay, slit, and sand
soil degradation
the deterioration of those characteristics of soil needed for plant growth or other ecosystem services
inter-cropping
a soil conservation method in which two or more crops are planted in one field
crop rotation
a soil conservation method in which the type of crop grown in a field is alternated from one season or year to the next
cover crop
a fast-growing crop that is planted in the interval between harvest and the next
shelter-belt
one or more rows of trees or other tall, perennial plants planted along the edge of a field to prevent wind erosion
tiling
the turning-over of soil before planting
terracing
a soil conservation method in which sloped land is transformed into a series of steps to prevent soil erosion
contour farming
a soil conservation method in which furrows are plowed across a hillside, perpendicular
overgrazing
allowing animals to eat so much of the plant cover in a field or pasture that the plants cannot regrow
desertification
a loss of more than 10 percent in the productivity of soil due to erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, drought, or other factors
irrigation
using a source other than precipitation to water crops
salinization
the buildup of salts in the surface layers of soil
pesticide
a chemical used to kill organisms that attack or compete with plants that humans value
traditional agriculture
a type of farming that relies on human and animal power, along with hand tools and non-motorized machines
yield
the amount of a crop produced in a given area
industrial agriculture
a type of farming that relies on technology and chemicals to increase yields and reduce costs
green revolution
the introduction of new technologies, crop varieties, and farming practices to the developing world in the third quarter of the twentieth century
biological pest control
the use of organisms to battle pests and weeds
integrated pest management (IPM)
the use of both biological and chemical methods to control pests safely and economically
pollinator
an insect or other animal that transfers pollen from one plant to another
arable land
land that is suitable for farming
food security
the guarantee of an adequate and reliable food supply for all people at all times
malnutrition
a shortage of essential nutrients
genetic engineering
a process in which scientists directly manipulate an organism’s DNA
genetically modified (GM) organism
an organism whose DNA has been manipulated by scientists
biotechnology
the use of genetic engineering to increase the value of products
feedlot
a huge warehouse or pen designed to deliver energy-rich feed to livestock or poultry
aquaculture
the raising of aquatic organisms for food in a controlled environment
seed bank
an organization that preserves the seeds of diverse plants in case of a global crop collapse
sustainable agriculture
farming that does not deplete soil faster than it forms
organic agriculture
a type of sustainable agriculture in which only biological methods are used