Students & Sustainability
Students in agriculture education programs will benefit from being aware of and involved with sustainable farming practices as they are making their way into the future of agriculture. EFP is working to meet the demands of sustainable sourcing in a single document that will signify a producer’s commitment to sustainable agriculture. While there are currently many benefits to completing an EFP and implementing the improvements identified—greater profits, reduced costs, increased access to government funding and to national/international markets as well as preservation of land, water and air quality.
Major purchasers are beginning to demand products that are sustainably sourced and for some, completing an EFP is the proof that they need.
Alberta EFP provides resources for students and instructors in agricultural programs at post-secondary institutes across the province. These range from a demonstration workbook to technical videos and topics that assist in the completion of the demonstration workbook.
We also encourage post-secondary institutions to explore the prospect of completing an EFP for their student farm. To do so, the program must register through the Alberta EFP office.
They will then receive access to an online workbook and be assigned a trained technician who is available to help throughout the process. Lakeland College completed a full EFP in Winter 2015, making them the first Alberta post-secondary to do so.
Alberta EFP is preparing for a time when farms of the future will be required to have a sustainable sourcing program in place—it will be expected and necessary in order to have a successful business. Learning about EFP and how to implement the changes that will make a farm environmentally compliant are key components to prepare students of today for the realities of tomorrow.
The Future of Agriculture
Agriculture’s future is “sustainable agriculture.” But what exactly does this mean? Really, it depends on who you are.
First, let’s explore the images associated. When you think of the term sustainable agriculture, what comes to mind? Something like this?
For many people it means smallholders and small plots of land. But the reality in developed nations is quite different. In countries like Canada, the USA and Australia, with lots of land and large farms, we use technology. This allows us to produce more food, with fewer people. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, calls this “sustainable intensification.” To make things more complicated, sustainable agriculture incorporates social and economic dimensions on top of the environmental one. As an agriculture student who will be involved in the future of agriculture, you have a responsibility to be aware of sustainability issues (such as sustainable sourcing). These will affect you whether you become a farmer, work in the crop or livestock sector, become an agri-business specialist, or become a veterinarian.
Agricultural Programs in Alberta
There are five post-secondary institutes in Alberta that offer agricultural degrees or diplomas. Most of their programs include an Environmental Farming component in their curriculum and many require students to participate in EFP demo exercises.
The first post-secondary in Alberta to complete a full scale EFP. Students from both crops and livestock programs worked together during the Winter 2015 term on an assessment of their student-managed farm. They also began implementation of their plan. Future Lakeland students will continue this work and conduct periodic reviews and updates to the plan.
The two-year (four-term) Agriculture Sciences diplomas at Lethbridge College provides theoretical and hands-on training for students entering into numerous career option in agriculture or transferring to other agriculture degree programs. A wide specturm of skills which are required for agriculture are delievered, along with specialized courses relevant to animal and crop production. The program has two majors: Animal Sciences and Plants and Soil Sciences, and students gain practical experience through labs, practicums and field experiences for almost half of the curriculum. Sustainable agriculture is also incorporated into the diploma program in many of the soil, plant, animal and marketing courses. In the last term of the diploma students complete the Sustainable Agriculture course, which includes the development of an Environmental Farm Plan.
Lethbridge College’s newest agriculture program Agriculture Business Risk Management, will be available in the fall of 2015. Developed in collaboration with industry experts, Agriculture Business Risk Management (AgBRM) is the practice of identifying, analyzing and managing the various potential risks and opportunities to achieve the goals of a business. This program is designed specifically for application in agricultural business business with a strong focus on commodity and risk management essential to entrepreneurs. The focus of this program is on financial risk and areas associated with financial risk and areas associated with financial risk. In order to be sustainable, those in the agriculture industry need to understand the risks, hot to mitigate risks, and plan for success.
Lethbridge College Agriculture Sciences has recently partnered with the Blood Tribe to deliver hands-on and theoretical knowledge applicable to agriculture on the Blood Tribe reserve. This program is called the Blood Tribe Agricultural Training Initiative (BTATI). The courses delivered include Farm Safety, Irrigation, Crop Production, Agriculture Soil Management, Beef Cattle Production and Crop Scouting. Sustainable agriculture is incorporated into each of these courses. Elders contribute to these courses by sharing the traditional practices of the Blood Tribe and how they have continued to care for their agricultural and ranch lands for generations.
Agricultural Management. If you are looking for a career that will help you to feed, clothe, house or even fuel the world you have found the right place. The Agricultural Management program will give students a comprehensive education that will allow them to work in production agriculture, agribusinesses, or businesses that process, market and distribute products from agriculture. Students will gain skills in crops and livestock, finance, agri-business management, marketing and the latest technology so you can be successful in driving any area of agriculture forward.
The Agricultural Management diploma brings students into the forefront of all aspects of farming. From a business side students will be grounded in communication, accounting and marketing strategy informed by surveying global and local policy facing the agricultural industry. Students will be exposed to the agricultural technology advancement from accounting software to farm machinery. Students will also be provided an environmental understanding in the production of food, feed, fuel and fiber as well as livestock physiology and health with global issues. In the second year students will choose one of the majors (Agricultural Production, Agricultural Finance, Agricultural Marketing) as a specialism stream.
BSc in Agriculture, Major in Sustainable Agricultural Systems: Knowledge about individual components of agricultural systems (including people, plants, animals and soil, water and other resources) has expanded rapidly, but less is known about how these systems work as a whole. There is a need to integrate knowledge from a number of disciplines in order to maintain and enhance the performance of agricultural systems so that resource use is efficient and sustainable. Agricultural systems can be viewed from a local, national or international perspective. A systems approach to sustainable agriculture considers the linkages between human activity and institutions with agricultural production systems. UAlberta’s BSc in Agriculture, Major in Sustainable Agricultural Systems provides students with an understanding of the scientific principles underlying the many facets of agriculture together with their application in agricultural systems and related industries. Through a broadly based educational experience, students develop capacities for critical and independent thought and clear expression of ideas. Throughout the program, emphasis is placed on integrating several areas in the physical, biological, and social sciences relevant to modern agricultural practices. Key areas of study include agricultural production systems, natural resource management and the interrelationships of these with social and economic systems. Graduates are prepared for careers in agriculture and systems analysis within government or the agriculture and food industry.
The Agricultural Studies program is multidisciplinary in nature, including courses in Agricultural Studies, Biological Sciences, Economics and Geography, among others. Students study in lab-extensive settings that combine practical experience with an emphasis on current issues and relevant research. Students interested in Agricultural Studies have four degree options from which to choose: two four-year majors (Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science) and two Post-Diploma majors (Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science). In addition to the courses required to satisfy the requirements of each of the majors, students must satisfy the University’s General Liberal Education Requirement (GLER).
The Agricultural Biotechnology program focuses on the use living systems and organisms to develop or to create products in view of satisfying myriad human wants pertaining to, among others, food, medicine, fuel and fibre. The program emphasizes the nexus of scientific knowledge, entrepreneurial innovation and agricultural activities with implications for humanity and our environment. The output of all of types of agricultural biotechnologies – the bioeconomy – is increasingly important. The agricultural biotechnology program offers students the prospect of improving their understanding of scientific and economic principles in view of resolving both natural and man-made problems and identifying profitable and sustainable opportunities.
The Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Lethbridge offers a Bachelor of Science, Agricultural Biotechnology as a direct-entry, 40-course multidisciplinary program offered by the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Economics. In both Agricultural Studies and Agricultural Biotechnology programs, students can exploit opportunities to acquire, enhance and apply their skills not only at the University of Lethbridge but also at the Lethbridge Research Centre, the Animal Disease Research Institute, and at the many agri-businesses located throughout Southern Alberta. Located in Southern Alberta, the University of Lethbridge is an ideal location to select a major in Agricultural Studies. Farming and ranching activities are among the most important regional sources of wealth and of direct and indirect employment. Entrepreneurial ingenuity combined with natural capital, physical capital and other human resources provides the foundation for a variety of productive activities directed at satisfying wants related to livestock (primarily cattle, hogs and poultry), grains, oilseeds, pulses and numerous specialty crops. In this setting, aspiring agriculturalists learn about the physical and economic interrelationships between agricultural production, marketing, trade and nutrient management, water, grazing, rangeland and riparian management.
Resources for Students
We have a demo version of the work book available to students and instructors (contact us to obtain a copy) as well as all of the resources on our website, such as the instructional videos and technical topics, and sustainable sourcing links.
- Agriculture for Life is a charitable organization dedicated to building a greater understanding and appreciation of agriculture and its fundamental connection to life. Its mission is to educate and inspire people of all ages to understand the integral role agriculture plays in society, the environment and the economy. Since 2011, Ag for Life has been a leading voice in the promotion of agriculture, food, health and safety education. Through partnerships and collaboration, they develop, expand and offer high quality educational programming to children, youth and adults.
- Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA) is a professional regulatory body that has entered into an agreement with the Government of Alberta to formally regulate the activities of its members. The profession of agrology demands integrity, competence and objectivity in the conduct of its regulated member while fulfilling their professional responsibilities to the public, employer or client, the profession and other regulated members. Agrology is a growing profession that is at the forefront of many critical issues, such as food productions and food safety, bio-resource health and environmental quality. The dynamic nature of the profession requires that members commit to life-long learning through continued professional development. The AIA is empowered under the Agrology Profession Act and Regulations of Alberta. Over 2500 Agrologists are registered with AIA. The institute regulates the practice of Professional Agrologists (PAg), Agrologists in Training (AIT), Registered Technologists in Agrology (RT(Ag)), and Agrology Technologists in Training (ATT).