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Advice for teachers -
Agricultural and Horticultural Studies

Unit 4 – Area of Study 1: Sustainable land management

Outcome 1

Analyse the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on food and fibre production, evaluate strategies for environmental protection and rehabilitation, and discuss techniques for monitoring the sustainability of agricultural and/or horticultural practices.

Examples of learning activities

  • Explore case studies of sustainable farming practices from Farming First  (a global coalition) and use these to discuss and identify the key principles in action.
  • Read the article ‘To reduce greenhouse gases from cows and sheep, we need to look at the big picture’ (The Conversation) and summarise the key contributions to global climate change made by livestock production.
  • Read the article ‘Climate change and livestock: Impacts, adaptation, and mitigation’ (Science Direct). Analyse the potential impacts and write a summary about those with the biggest potential to affect Australian producers. This could be done as a jigsaw activity.
  • View the most recent summaries and reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the potential impacts of climate change. Discuss how these changes could affect farming areas of Victoria and Australia.
  • View case studies of Australian farms that are using novel practices to address impacts of climate change, such as those found in the ‘Dairy climate toolkit’
  • Write a summary of the key points within the Farming First infographic ‘The story of agriculture and climate change’.
  • Explore the types and causes of land degradation in various environments by using the BBC Bitesize resource ‘The impact and management of rural land degradation’. Discuss the consequences of this degradation and how it has been or can be managed.
  • Read the Food Insight article ‘Preserving the world's land from soil degradation’ and discuss the relative efficiency and efficacy of the various solutions proposed.
  • Collect a series of images or descriptions of environmental degradation that has or could occur. Complete an activity to match the images with different techniques for prevention and rehabilitation.
  • Review and discuss co-cultivation techniques, such as rice-fish systems, and explain how they could contribute to sustainability and biodiversity.
  • Read the ThoughtCo article ‘Mixed cropping: History of the ancient farming technique’ and discuss the benefits of a ‘rich biodiverse environment’. This could be conducted as a jigsaw activity.
  • Investigate the topic ‘The importance of biodiversity’. Create an infographic summarising the links between biodiversity and the sustainability of agricultural/horticultural industries.
  • Read ‘Microclimate modification with plasticulture’ to investigate the pros and cons of using technologies such as plastic mulches and floating row covers. Draw conclusions about the suitability of these techniques for diverse settings. .
  • Identify a food or fibre crop that requires a warm environment to grow efficiently. Develop a plan to grow this crop in the cool Victorian climate and justify decisions made.
  • Present an informed justification for modifying the topography of agricultural/horticultural land.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    Choose one of the following water quality issues: levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and dissolved oxygen; acidity or alkalinity (pH); electrical conductivity (EC); turbidity. Research its impact on food and fibre production in Australia. Present findings to the class and discuss how producers monitor and reduce the impact of this issue.
Example icon for advice for teachers 

Detailed example

Impact of water quality on food and fibre production

  1. Students choose one of the following water quality issues: levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and dissolved oxygen; acidity or alkalinity (pH); electrical conductivity (EC); turbidity. They conduct research into the causes, consequences and solutions to the identified issue.
    Teachers provide guiding questions such as:
    • How does the issue in water quality occur?
    • How is water quality tested and monitored with regard to this issue?
    • Describe the impact this water quality issue has on the environment and for food and fibre producers.
    • Is the issue particularly problematic for certain areas of Australia or for certain food and fibre producers? If so, outline these issues.
    • Do state or federal authorities have regulations about this issue? If so, what are they?
    • What can/do authorities and producers do to control or mitigate this water quality issue?
  2. Students create an A4 summary sheet of the research conducted on this issue using software such as MS Word or Google Docs.
  3. Students create a written presentation or video to present the findings of the research to the class, using software such as MS PowerPoint, Prezi or screen capture video applications. Presentations should outline the causes, impacts and techniques for monitoring and mitigation of the chosen issue.
  4. Following the presentations, students discuss as a class and compare the causes, impacts and mitigation strategies for the range of water quality issues. They could create a summary document or blog comparing all the issues discussed.