Welcome to the Agricultural Sciences community.
Agricultural Sciences is a living subject and teachers are encouraged to make the subject more interesting and interactive to Agricultural Science learners. Agricultural Science teachers in the FET band are faced with a difficult task of keeping abreast with the new subject content such as biotechnology, integrated pest management and others. This space is the right platform for teachers to share subject knowledge and skills or even teaching methodologies which are OBE inclined such as lesson plans, pace setters etc.
This will provide Agricultural science educators with access to the following:
· Subject Assessment Guideline
· Subject Statement Policy
· Lesson plans and Pace setters
· Subject events
· Current subject news/innovations
· Subject contents
Bio-technology has been identified as the leading modern technology of the 21st century since it possesses the potential to address bread and butter issues of developing countries.
People in the developing countries can benefit significantly from agricultural bio-technology on areas such as increase crop yields, reduced use of chemicals for disease and pest control. Bio-technology will provide with less environmental degradation and development of innovative food products such as foods with improved nutritional value or better food quality and safety.
Bio-technology has been around for centuries using living organisms to produce:
· Home – sewerage, composting
· Food – bread, wine and beer, cheese, yoghurt etc
· Medicine: Medicinal plants and vaccines (penicillin/ antibiotics etc)
· Selective Plant and animal breeding
· Is applied biology (putting our biological knowledge to work)
· Is the use of any living thing to produce useful products or processes
Genetic modification: Modern techniques used to alter the genetic material of living cells or organisms in order to make them capable of producing new substances or performing new functions.
GM crops in South Africa:
South Africa is the 8th largest GM crop producer in the world (2007) and with1.8 million Ha.
GM crops grown in SA during the 2006/2007 season
Percentage of total crop
Statistics: Africa Bio
For more information on Bio-technology visit the following websites:
Fossil fuel such as diesel and petrol today are very expensive for most people to afford. Countries today such as Brazil have done a lot in the development of alternative fuel for usage which will ultimately reduce the carbon footprint which lead to global warming. Bio-fuel which is a renewable energy can play a critical part in replacing fossil fuels. In South Africa the fossil fuel such as diesel and petrol are brought from overseas countries and it will make economical sense to produce our own bio-fuel in this country. Local bio-fuel production will bring investment and employment opportunities. When producing bio-fuel the use of cash crops such as maize, soya beans, sunflower and sugar cane etc should be avoided since that will cause shortage of basic food in countries and ultimately high food prices. An alternative crops/plants should be identified for such kind of bio-fuel production.
What are Bio-fuels? 1st generation bio-fuels: produced from biomass
· Bio – ethanol are produced by fermentation of sugars and starches
· Plant material: maize, sugar cane, sugar beet can be blended with gasoline (5-10%)
· Bio – diesel (bio- esters) are produced by a chemical reaction between vegetable oil and alcohol
· Plant material: oily seeds, rapeseed or soybean can be blended with diesel
· 2nd and 3rd generation bio-fuels
· 2nd generation bio-fuels: produced by fermentation of cellulose using enzymes
· plant material: non-edible plant material grass, wood, agricultural residues (REDUCES PRESSURE ON FOOD CROPS FOR BIOFUELS)
· 3rd generation bio-fuels: new and hybrid technologies converting biomass directly into bio-fuels
BIO-FUEL: can be defined as renewable energy sources that are produced from biomass (the living matter of plants or organic waste).
WHY DO WE NEED BIO-FUELS?
· Fossil fuels are a finite resource – significantly more in demand (predicted as 50% more by 2025) e.g. of Brazil·
· Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG): Confirmed link between GHG) & climate change & human activities (2007)
· Global Warming: GHG trap heat close to surface of earth and so raising temperature
· Low incomes in the agricultural sector
· Kyoto Protocol – commitment of (ratified) countries to reduce emissions to certain levels (developing versus developed countries)
· (Alternative, renewable energy sources have to be found)
The Kyoto Protocol: was adopted at a Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. The Conference resulted in a consensus decision to adopt a protocol under which industrialised countries will reduce their combined greenhouse emissions by at least 5% compared to 1990 levels, in the period 2008 -2012 (this time period is known as ‘first commitment period’). This legally binding commitment promises to produce a historical reversal of the upward trend in emissions that started in these countries some 150 years ago.
More information on the Kyoto Protocol can be found on its official website Kyoto Protocol www.kyotoprotocol.com and on the UNFCCC Climate Change Information Kit Kyoto Protocol Fact Sheet – visit http://unfcc.int
For more information on Bio-fuel visits the following websites:
GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE
In the past fifty years ago, the concept or idea that the planet was warming up as a result of human action was largely theoretical. Since the inception of Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, factories, power plants, automobile industries and farms have contributed to a large extent on packing or loading the atmosphere with heat trapping gases, including carbon-dioxide and methane.
Not all the carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere (some of it dissolves in the oceans and lakes, and some is converted to rocks in the form of calcium and magnesium carbonates), but measurements show that the CO2 content of the atmosphere is slowly increasing every year and has been doing so for decades.
Global warming is linked to amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. As individuals almost everything we do leads to emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere i.e. cooking, heating and travelling.
The amount of carbon one personally produces is known as carbon footprint which is a measure of carbon dioxide or CO2 emitted through the consumption of natural resources (i.e. fossil fuels).
WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE (GLOBAL WARMING)?
The world climate under goes natural cycle through which the earth experience warm and cold periods which takes more than hundred years to complete just one cycle. In order for the earth to maintain a more or less constant average temperature, it must give off about as much energy as it receives.
The earth receives sun energy in the form of visible light but the CO2 in the atmosphere allows sun energy to penetrate through until it reaches the earth’s surface. A certain percentage of sun energy is again send back to the atmosphere and gets absorbed by the atmospheric CO2. Once a CO2 molecule absorbs this energy it does not keep it, but reemits it in all directions, sending some of it back down to the earth surface. The atmospheric CO2 does not at all prevent sun energy from reaching the earth surface but it prevents from going back to the space. When more carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, it stays in the atmosphere and acts like a warm blanket, holding in the heat that’s why is known as ‘global warming’
WHAT CAUSES CLIMATE CHANGE (GLOBAL WARMING)?
A large number of gases such as carbon-dioxide, methane etc in the atmosphere act to trap the sun energy, thus warming the earth surface. These atmospheric gases are well known as Greenhouse gases (GHG) and the process is the “greenhouse effect”
Burning of fossil fuels such as oil, petrol, diesel, coal, natural gas etc for domestic energy and transportation.
· Increase deforestation due to industrialization
· Increase concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE/GLOBAL WARMING ON AGRICULTURE
Climate change will have serious impact on agriculture especially in developing countries. Most of the agricultural production activities in the developing countries depend heavily on rainfall.
· Recurrent drought periods
· Decrease in soil productivity
· Decline in crop yields and agricultural productivity
· Decrease in water availability
· Increase production costs
· Decrease in livestock productivity
· Increase pest and diseases
More information on Global Warming and Climate Change visit the following websites:
ARBOR WEEK “PLANT TREES, SAVE OUR PLANET”
Schools are once more encouraged to participate fully during the ARBOR week which starts from the 1st to 7th September every year. Today the world is faced with Global Warming or Climate Change which can be overcome through the planting of trees. During the celebration of ARBOR WEEK learners should be made aware of issues that affect forestry, opportunities for sustainable economic development, poverty alleviation and job creation. Learners need to be exposed to circumstances that will encourage them to pursue a career in forestry.
Main objectives of ARBOR WEEK
· To inform communities of the benefits of long term sustainable use of indigenous trees
· To inform communities of the necessity of their involvement
· To encourage tree planting
· To raise awareness of the danger of veld fires
· To encourage economic development in forestry especially the second economy.
Schools are encouraged to visit the nearby Department of Water Affairs and Forestry to get more information on planned activities in their respective areas.
“LET US PLANT TREES IN OUR SCHOOL YARDS” SCIENCE EXPO
Agricultural subjects’ educators are once more encouraged to register learners for Science Expo Competitions taking place in their respective Districts and Provinces. Science Expo Competition is the appropriate platform for our learners to compete with their peers from various Districts/ Provinces. Let us not deny our learners opportunities to show case their critical and innovative thinking on the subject. In the past years the number of Agricultural Subjects learners taking part in such organized activities has decline, showing an increase number in other subjects such Physical science, Mathematics and Life sciences.
Agricultural Subjects are part and parcel of science subjects, so let us roll up our sleeves and be counted.
Please inform/update us on Science Expo activities taking place in your respective Districts/ Provinces so that we can be able to share such successes with other colleagues in various Districts or Provinces.
International Year of the Potato 2008
“For low income people in both urban and rural areas, the potato really is a buried treasure” source: Eric Kueneman chief of the FAO’S Crop and Grassland Services.
The UN General Assembly declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato (IYP) in order for the world to pay more attention on the role Potato can play in alleviation of hunger and poverty. The Potato is one of the world stable foods that have been consumed for more than 7 000 years and is recently ranked as the world’s number four food crop. Potatoes should be considered by schools with feeding scheme as a major component in strategies aimed at providing nutritious food for the poor and hungry. Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, making them an excellent source of energy. They have the highest protein content in the family of root and tuber crops and protein of fairly high quality, with an amino acids pattern that is well matched to human requirement. They are also rich in vitamin C- a single potato contain about ½ the recommended daily intake and contain a fifth of the recommended daily value of potassium. The potato produces more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other crop. (It grow fast, it’s adaptable, high yielding and responsive to low inputs)
More information on activities for the International Year of the Potato visit the following websites:
Click here to view support for matric space