Agroecosystem analysis is not a new practice, agriculturalists and farmers have been doing it since societies switched from hunting and gathering (hunter-gatherer) for food to settling in one area. Today, due to environmental concerns and the pressure to produce food, fiber, and fuel, a whole new genre of agriculture (Sustainability) has been established. When developing an analysis for agroecosystem it is more accurate to define this term by using the definition of sustainable agriculture. This allows for a more precise approach towards analyzing an agricultural environment.
Bill Bland, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, develops the idea of a farm as a "holon." This term, holon, was originally introduced by Arther Koestler in 1966, in which he referred to a holon as an entity in which it is a part by itself, a holon, while contributing to a larger entity, which is also a holon. Bland develops this for an agricultural environment or farm as, "The farm holon is both the whole in which smaller holons exists, and a part of larger entities, themselves holons."
Furthermore, within the farm alone, other holons exists. For example, a tractor, a barn, the family, or a house can all be considered holons within the farm. Additionally, the farm is considered a holon which is inpart contected to other holons such as the county in which the farm resides, the bank from which the farmer borrowed money, or the grain elevator where the farmer sells his goods. Therefore, when conducting an agroecosystem analysis, the analyst should approach the farm as the farm itself and how the farm functions within society as a whole. Bland conlcludes his model of a farm as a holon by stating, "A farm is not sustainable (disintegrates) when it cannot find an overall configuration that is simultaneously viable in all contexts."
There is no right or wrong way to evaluate an agroecosystem but there is an effective way to do it correctly. When an analyst accepts the task of analyzing the agroecosystem, first and foremost, it must be approached as to incorporate all elements involved and should derive questions that should be answered. Questions such as:
These are the types of questions an analyst should consider. There are no preset questions to ask, and usually more questions are derived than answered. However, the most important task an analysts can do, is to start the analysis with an open mind and under no presumptions.
J. Visser of Dordt College uses a diagram, "Wealth Creation Wheel to emphasize and account for the parameters of developing a thorough analysis. His diagram is more emphasized on economics; however, it is a useful tool to reference when starting to analyze an agroecoystem. His interest is to create a functioning wheel which will roll when all parameters are met equally. If one parameter is not functioning in context with the other paremeters, then the wheel will be out of balance and ineffective, thus unsustainable. When referring to an agroecosystem, if one parameter is out of balance, this could lead to an unproductive cropping season and loss of income and/or livelihood.
Sustainable agroecosystem management; integrating ecology, economics and society.(Brief article)(Book review)
Jun 01, 2009; 9781420052145 Sustainable agroecosystem management; integrating ecology, economics and society. Ed. by Patrick J. Bohlen and Gar...