Topic 5: Soil systems, terrestrial food production

Soil systems, terrestrial food production

With the rise of veganism and recent reports from the Lancet commission and Oxford University , this part of the course is packed with opportunities for relevant and pertinent learning. 

Topic 5 looks soil as a system and thorough links between it and food production. Global food supply and the inequalities that exist within it are highlighted as are opportunities for students to think through the future of food production.

Significant Ideas

  • The soil system is a dynamic ecosystem that has inputs, outputs, storages and flows.
  • The quality of soil influences the primary productivity of an area.
  • The sustainability of terrestrial food production systems is influenced by sociopolitical, economic and ecological factors.
  • Consumers have a role to play through their support of different terrestrial food production systems.
  • The supply of food is inequitably available and land suitable for food production is unevenly distributed among societies, and this can lead to conflict and concerns.
  • Fertile soils require significant time to develop through the process of succession.
  • Human activities may reduce soil fertility and increase soil erosion.
  • Soil conservation strategies exist and may be used to preserve soil fertility and reduce soil erosion

Recommended teaching time (not including practicals) = 12 hours

5.1 Introduction to Soil Systems

Soil can be a tricky topic to engage students with; after all it can be dry and crumbly! In order to bring the topic alive I like to show at least part of a documentary about the subject. The one I used...

5.2 Inequality of food distribution

This significant idea revolves around the idea there is a vast amount of food waste produced every year around the world but the reasons for this waste differ between LEDCs and MEDCs.There is a thread...

5.2 Food and Consumer Choice

I think you could move through this "content" very quickly but it would be doing a disservice to the spirit of the course and your students. This is one of the most meaningful topics as it allows students...

5.2 Food Production Systems

It's taken me quite some time and thinking to unpick this sub-topic. It seems there are a variety of strands, "important ideas" that are perhaps not best represented by the signigicant ideas identified...

5.3 Soil Degradation & Conservation

Some teachers find this topic a little boring and difficult to inspire the students. It's a crucial topic and frequently examined in combination with food production although it goes beyond food production....

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