001 - Systems Approach
Geographic Knowledge and Understanding
The merits of a systems approach (inputs, stores, transfers, outputs) to compare energy efficiency and water footprints in food production, and relative sustainability in different places.
Having the power over the system of food production can create greater sustainability.
- To have knowledge of how a systems approach can be applied to energy efficiency and water footprints in food production.
- To have an understanding of the advantages of using a systems approach when discussing food production.
- Systems approach
- Water footprint
- Energy efficiency ratio
Define the key terms above by using the 'Useful Links' below:
Activity One - Comprehension
Just like we have seen in Freshwater a farm can also be organised as a system with clear inputs, process and outputs. Systems diagrams help us to see if one area is impacted by something it could have a dramatic impact on another area of the system. Unlike we saw for a drainage basin a farm can have physical and human inputs into its system. A farmer ultimately needs to become the ecological dominant in the ecosystem of a farm to make sure it is not wholly dependent on the natural landscape or the weather to be profitable. Before we even look at the idea of a farm of as a system we need to have knowledge of the outcomes that a farm needs to function and what forms they take.
- What three outcomes does a farm need to be successful?
- Describe the three factors that impact the type of farm it becomes.
- Describe the factors which impact the inputs into a farming system. Make sure you give examples.
- What outputs occur in a farming system?
- Why are some of the outputs considered unintended? Describe the impact of the unintended outputs.
- Describe the way to measure the sustainability (energy efficiency ration) of a farm. Give examples of this.
- Why is farming a monoculture not sustainable?
- Low species diversity
- Chemical herbicides and pesticides - genetic resistance, death of desirable species, non-biodegradable materials in the food chain.
'Our Planet's Food and Health' textbook by Codrington
Activity Two - Draw - Systems Diagram
Now you know what the inputs and outputs are in a farm we are now going to draw this as a systems diagram. Systems diagrams are useful to geographers as they help us to compare places.
- Using the key words below create a systems diagram for a farm.
- Add on arrows to show the flow of the inputs and outputs.
Precipitation Planting Material Payment to Suppliers Capital Equipment
Farming Practices Farm Household Waste Products Solar Energy
Product Market Farming Produce Soil and natural vegetation Cash
Transpired Moisture Labour Moisture by evaporation and drainage
Social values and technology Moisture from streams and groundwater
Activity Three - Mind Mapping
We are now going to focus on the environmental problems caused by framing, how this is linked to a growing population and indicators that we can use compare the sustainability of food production.
- Collect a piece of A4 plain paper and a set of coloured pens.
- Write in the middle of the page 'Sustainability and Farming'.
- Use a different colour for each focus area below and write a description of how it impacts sustainability or is a measure of sustainability.
- Growing population - China
- Food Miles
- Water footprint
- Locally grown food
- Vegetarian Diet
Jimmy's Supermarket Secrets - From Crop to Shop - Google Drive (Extreme Environments)
Exam Style Question
"The further your food travels the greater the impact on the environment." Discuss this statement. [10 marks]