Living in the Environment

Planting trees and crops together.
alley cropping
Planting of crops in strips with rows of trees or shrubs on each side.
animal manure
Dung and urine of animals used as a form of organic fertilizer. Compare green manure.
Growing and harvesting of fish and shellfish for human use in freshwater ponds, irrigation
ditches, and lakes, or in cages or fenced-in areas of coastal lagoons and estuaries. See fish
farming, fish ranching.
chronic under nutrition
An ongoing condition suffered by people who cannot grow or buy enough food to meet their
basic energy need. Compare malnutrition, over nutrition.
inorganic fertilizer
Commercially prepared mixture of plant nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates, and
potassium applied to the soil to restore fertility and increase crop yields. Compare organic
Partially decomposed organic plant and animal matter used as a soil conditioner or fertilizer.
conservation tillage farming
Crop cultivation in which the soil is disturbed little (minimum-tillage farming) or not at all (no-till
farming) to reduce soil erosion, lower labor costs, and save energy. Compare conventional-
tillage farming.
contour farming
Plowing and planting across the changing slope of land, rather than in straight lines, to help
retain water and reduce soil erosion.
Crop cultivation method in which a planting surface is made by plowing land, breaking up the
exposed soil, and then smoothing the surface. Compare conservation-tillage farming.
crop rotation
Planting a field, or an area of a field, with different crops from year to year to reduce soil
nutrient depletion. A plant such as corn, tobacco, or cotton, which removes large amounts of
nitrogen from the soil, is planted one year. The next year a legume such as soybeans, which
adds nitrogen to the soil, is planted.
Conversion of rangeland, rain-fed cropland, or irrigated cropland to desert like land, with a
drop in agricultural productivity of 10% or more. It usually is caused by a combination of
overgrazing, soil erosion, prolonged drought, and climate change.
Widespread malnutrition and starvation in a particular area because of a shortage of food,
usually caused by drought, war, flood, earthquake, or other catastrophic events that disrupt
food production and distribution.
Confined outdoor or indoor space used to raise hundreds to thousands of domesticated
livestock. Compare rangeland.
Confined outdoor or indoor space used to raise hundreds to thousands of domesticated
livestock. Compare rangeland.
Substance that adds inorganic or organic plant nutrients to soil and improves its ability to
grow crops, trees, or other vegetation. See commercial inorganic fertilizer, organic fertilizer.
fish farming
Form of aquaculture in which fish are cultivated in a controlled pond or other environment and
harvested when they reach the desired size. See also fish ranching.
fish ranching
Form of aquaculture in which members of a fish species such as salmon are held in captivity
for the first few years of their lives, released, and then harvested as adults when they return
from the ocean to their freshwater birthplace to spawn. See also fish farming.
Concentrations of particular aquatic species suitable for commercial harvesting in a given
ocean area or inland body of water.
food security
Every person in a given area has daily access to enough nutritious food to have an active and
healthy life.
Chemical that kills fungi.
green manure
Freshly cut or still-growing green vegetation that is plowed into the soil to increase the organic
matter and humus available to support crop growth. Compare animal manure.
green revolution
Popular term for introduction of scientifically bred or selected varieties of grain (rice, wheat,
maize) that, with high enough inputs of fertilizer and water, can greatly increase crop yields.
gully erosion
Occurs when rivulets of fast-flowing water join together to cut wider and deeper ditches or
Chemical that kills a plant or inhibits its growth.
high-input agriculture
See industrialized agriculture.
Suffered when people cannot grow or buy enough food to meet their basic energy needs.
industrialized agriculture
Using large inputs of energy from fossil fuels (especially oil and natural gas), water, fertilizer,
and pesticides to produce large quantities of crops and livestock for domestic and foreign
sale. Compare subsistence farming.
inorganic fertilizer
See commercial inorganic fertilizer.
Chemical that kills insects.
integrated pest
management (IPM)
Combined use of biological, chemical, and cultivation methods in proper sequence and timing
to keep the size of a pest population below the size that causes economically unacceptable
loss of a crop or livestock animal.
Growing two or more different crops at the same time on a plot. For example, a carbohydrate-
rich grain that depletes soil nitrogen and a protein-rich legume that adds nitrogen to the soil
may be intercropped. Compare monoculture, polyculture, polyvarietal cultivation.
Simultaneously growing a variety of crops on the same plot. See agroforestry, intercropping,
polyculture, polyvarietal cultivation.
land degradation
Occurs when natural or human-induced processes decrease the future ability of land to
support crops, livestock, or wild species.
low-input agriculture
See sustainable agriculture.
Faulty nutrition, caused by a diet that does not supply an individual with enough protein,
essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed for good health. Compare over
nutrition, under nutrition.
See animal manure, green manure.
Ability of a living cell or organism to capture and transform matter and energy from its
environment to supply its needs for survival, growth, and reproduction.
Chemical elements that organisms need in small or even trace amounts to live, grow, or
reproduce. Examples are sodium, zinc, copper, chlorine, and iodine. Compare macronutrients.
Cultivation of a single crop, usually on a large area of land. Compare polyculture, polyvarietal
no-till farming
See conservation-tillage farming.
organic farming
Producing crops and livestock naturally by using organic fertilizer (manure, legumes,
compost) and natural pest control (bugs that eat harmful bugs, plants that repel bugs, and
environmental controls such as crop rotation) instead of using commercial inorganic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides and herbicides. See sustainable agriculture.
organic fertilizer
Organic material such as animal manure, green manure, and compost, applied to cropland as
a source of plant nutrients. Compare commercial inorganic fertilizer.
over nutrition
Diet so high in calories, saturated (animal) fats, salt, sugar, and processed foods and so low
in vegetables and fruits that the consumer runs high risks of diabetes, hypertension, heart
disease, and other health hazards. Compare malnutrition, under nutrition.
Unwanted organism that directly or indirectly interferes with human activities.
Any chemical designed to kill or inhibit the growth of an organism that people consider
undesirable. See fungicide, herbicide, and insecticide.
plantation agriculture
Growing specialized crops such as bananas, coffee, and cacao in tropical developing
countries, primarily for sale to developed countries.
Complex form of intercropping in which a large number of different plants maturing at different
times are planted together. See also intercropping. Compare monoculture, polyvarietal
polyvarietal cultivation
Planting a plot of land with several varieties of the same crop. Compare intercropping,
monoculture, polyculture.
Accumulation of salts in soil that can eventually make the soil unable to support plant growth.