GOD'S PLAN, MAN'S DISCOVERY (17 pages)

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GOD'S PLAN, MAN'S DISCOVERY



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461 Institute for Christian Teaching Education Department of Seventh day Adventists SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE GOD S PLAN MAN S DISCOVERY by Grace Oluwatoyin Tayo Babcock University Ilishan Remo Nigeria 483 00 Institute for Christian Teaching 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring MD 20904 USA Prepared for the 28 International Faith and Learning Seminar held at Babcock University Ilishan Remo Nigeria June 17 29 2001 th 462 Introduction In many areas of the world natural resources are under strong pressure The nature and extent however differ from place to place Agriculture and forestry as major human activities are significantly affecting regional soil conditions water quality biological diversity climatic patterns and agricultural productivity The effect is global in scale and has now become a matter of international concern Resources are declining because of overexploitation and improper management Reijntjes et al 1992 Miller 1996 also reported that exponential growth in population and resource use has drastically changed the face of the planet Carls 1987 argued that inputs such as fertilizers pesticides irrigation water soil amendments have greatly contributed to crop yields but little attention is being paid to understanding the biological and ecological bases of interactions occurring within the cropping system as long as such interactions were not considered detrimental to yields Man driven by selfishness has over exploited habitats for personal gain The situation is alarming and researchers and scholars call for urgent intervention measures Today agriculture is faced with the need to assess the long term sustainability of its practices In essence it is important to understand agro ecosystem processes that promote productivity in the short term and sustain it over the long term Agriculture must also consider availability cost of input and impact of conventional practices on the environment and on food safety Carls 1987 463 Ecosystems reveal the interrelationship between organisms and the environment White 1959 stated that all created beings are interdependent The Bible in Gen 1 1 and Psalm 24 1 establishes God as creator of the heavens the earth and all its fullness God in His infinite love created all things and committed the care and keeping of the garden to Adam and Eve Gen 2 15 He gave them the instruction to replenish the earth Gen 1 28 A call for sustainability today is a call to go back to Eden The thrust of this paper is therefore to consider the conventional call for sustainable agriculture in the light of a system already put in place by God Agriculture and Sustainability Agriculture stems from two words Agri and culture Agri which is ager in Latin means land while culture cultura Latin means cultivation In other words agriculture is the deliberate cultivation of land for the production of crops and livestock Harwood et al 1992 defined agriculture fundamentally as a process of converting solar energy through photosynthesis into useful biomass Miller 1996 defined sustainability as meeting present needs without depleting the resources that supply these products Serageldin 1995 viewed sustainability as opportunities currently available but which are left to future generations Sustainable agriculture is therefore producing enough agricultural products to meet present needs without depleting the soil and other resources that supply them This brings to mind the slogan farming for the future Harwood et al 1992 further defined sustainable agriculture to include a broad spectrum of food and fiber production systems suited to the environment 464 Sustainable agriculture also attempts to keep the productive capacity of natural resources in step with population growth and economic demands while protecting and where necessary restoring environmental quality The definition of sustainable agriculture may vary by discipline and area of concern but the following characteristics are common the long term maintenance of natural resources and agricultural productivity minimal adverse environmental impacts adequate economic returns to farmers optimal production with purchased inputs used only to supplement natural processes that are carefully managed satisfaction of human needs for food nutrition shelter and provision for the social needs of farm families and communities God as the creator sustains the earth He has also built in sustainability at creation when He pronounced every herb to bear fruit after its kind Gen 1 11 thus signifying continuity in all His created work However sustainability is achievable when human beings as stewards view God s handiwork as He saw it in the beginning good Gen 1 10 12 Interrelationships within the Ecosystem Ecosystems are made up of biotic and abiotic components All organisms and the features are necessary for the system to be maintained and flourished Homeostasis is maintained by self regulation because there is allowance for small changes which can be countered by feedback mechanism to restore equilibrium However in the presence of large changes the system moves from the original equilibrium resulting in radical changes in the ecosystem Such a change can be detrimental for example the acid damage 465 to lakes and forests Solar energy powers most ecosystems as the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian and Clausen 2001 in the same vein observed that nothing in creation is more important to life 2 1 on earth than the sun Only about 45 5 x106 KJ m yr of the sun s energy penetrates the earth surface Taylor et al 1997 Below half of this is in the photosynthetically active range PAR and about 10 of PAR is converted in photosynthesis to gross primary productivity GPP Net primary productivity NPP which is the net gain of organic material in photosynthesis less losses due to respiration varies between 50 80 of gross primary productivity Cultivated crops achieve higher rates of GPP and NPP during their short growing periods The photoautotrophs plants which manufacture their own food by photosynthesis in turn form the food source of other organisms in the system Chemicals in these organisms are returned back to their soil through decomposition by fungi and other microorganisms The result is a constant bio geochemical cycle A typical example of what happens in the moist forest was described by Harwood et al 1992 who explained that vegetation within tropical moist forests thrives by retaining and efficiently recycling scarce but essential nutrients within the


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