Mundie Salm, Ileia, and Frank van Steenbergen, MetaMeta
Soil and water are fundamental elements in agricultural systems. How much land and water there is available, and the quality of the soil and water, are major factors that influence whether farms are productive or not.
This module discusses soil and water as systems. Certain principles about soil and water systems are common to all farms – such as how nutrient cycles and soil food webs work. Similarly, how water enters the farm and the dynamics of soil moisture follow the same principles everywhere. At the same time, there is a huge variety of soil types and climates around the world. A farmer who lives in a floodplain in Bangladesh needs a different type of management option to one living in dry regions like the Sahel or in the Middle East. People who live in the highlands or in the valleys, or on mountain slopes all have different issues to contend with. While we cannot represent all different situations, this module covers a variety of cases of small-scale farming in different regions for students to develop insights into soil and water sustainability.
The module also discusses socio-cultural, ecological, economic and political aspects of small-scale farmers’ contexts and how they affect their choices and decisions about soil and water management. Students learn in this module about how farmers can make the most of their soil and water systems to allow for greater farm sustainability.
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