Agroecology is defined as the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable food systems. Hence, learning can best be achieved through an experiential approach to the topic. Designed to accompany Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition, Field and Laboratory Investigations in Agroecology, Third Edition features 24 investigations divided into five sections that parallel the main text: Studies of Environmental Factors: These investigations deal with how an individual plant responds to the environment, how environmental factors in specific agroecosystems are measured and characterized, and how particular environmental factors affect individual plants.
Studies of Population Dynamics in Crop Systems: This section studies how populations of organisms act in agroecosystems. It focuses on what populations are present, how they change over time and respond to the environment, and how individuals within a population may interact. Studies of Interspecific Interactions in Cropping Communities: This section emphasizes the between-species interactions of the organisms that make up crop communities. These interactions include herbivory, allelopathy, and mutualisms.
Studies of Farm and Field Systems: These investigations cover system-level agroecology and whole farms or systems within farm boundaries. They touch on the complexity with which the farmer deals in managing agroecosystems. Food System Studies: These investigations reach out beyond the individual farm to examine components of the food system at a local level, which impact all of the levels of analysis in the first four parts.
This manual facilitates hands-on learning that involves close observation, creative interpretation, and constant questioning of findings. The investigations emphasize the importance of careful data interpretation and presentation and the value of a clear, concise, and well-written research report. The book uses simple statistical analysis for data management and interpretation and students are guided through the steps of data analysis in the context of the particular investigations in which it is employed.