Lawrence F. London, Jr. - Venaura Farm - Chapel Hill, NC, USA
mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org http:nuteknet.com/london Venaura Farm
Title: Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable Agriculture at The University of Maine
Many factors have convinced the agriculture community to seek new approaches to the production of food and fiber. Among these factors are increasing input costs, pesticide resistance, ground water contamination, soil erosion, decreasing soil fertility, and the demand for chemical free food. The University of Maine offers academic, research, and extension programs in Sustainable Agriculture (SAG) in order to address the principles and practices of environmentally sound, profitable farming.
The academic program emphasizes:
The Sustainable Agriculture Program is an interdisciplinary program offered
cooperatively by the faculties of the Departments of Applied Ecology and Environmental
Sciences, Plant Biology and Pathology, and Resource Economics and Policy. In addition,
to the core courses, students obtain knowledge and skills in the liberal arts, mathematics,
sciences, and communications.
- how to increase farm profits by decreasing the costs of crop and livestock production;
- how to build soil tilth and fertility through rotations, multiple cropping, and nutrient
- how to protect water quality by decreasing the need to use synthetic agrichemicals;
- how to manage crop pests and livestock diseases with integrated, ecologically sound
- how to create a strong, diversified agriculture that is stable through market and
Courses in the Core Curriculum:
- AES101 Cropping Systems
- Principles and practices of various cropping systems involving agricultural crops.
- AES105 Principles of SAG
- Basic design principles and examples of environmentally and economically sustainable
agriculture systems. Emphasis will be placed on identifying management practices that
biologically improve soil structure, organic matter content, and fertility and minimize or
eliminate the need for chemical interventions for control of insect pests, pathogens, and
- AES305 Independent Study in SAG
- Independent study in a particular area of the student's interest is arranged with a faculty
member with expertise in that area.
- AES396 Field Experiences in SAG
- An approved program of work experience which contributes to the academic major and
the student's professional career goals.
- AES403 Weed Ecology and Management
- Ecological principles and their application in non chemical and reduced input weed
- AES440 Soil Chemistry and Plant Nutrition
- A study of the origin and nature of soil chemical properties and their effects on plant
growth, the source and function of essential nutrients, and the chemistry of fertilizer and
lime reactions in soils.
- AES449 Soil Organic Matter and Fertility
- Fundamental aspects of soil organic matter management. Principles of plant residue
decomposition and the environmental and agricultural implications of human
intervention in this process.
- AES479 Crop Ecology and Physiology
- An examination of agricultural systems focusing on the physiological responses of plant
communities and the critical role of nitrogen, water relations, and photosynthesis within
- AES482 Pesticides and the Environment
R. Alford, L. Zibilske
- Study of the properties of pesticides and their fate in the environment.
- INT450 Agricultural Pest Ecology E. Groden, F. Drummond, D. Lambert, M. Liebman, S. Smith
- An examination of the intrinsic and extrinsic principles of weed, plant disease, and insect
pest interrelationships. Emphasis on integrated pest management strategies and crop
- REP381 Sustainable Development and Public Policy
- The principles of sustainable development are investigated and considered against a
number of ethical and philosophical concepts. Possible ecological, economic and social
criteria for evaluating development proposals against those principles are surveyed.
Other course work is available in plant science, soil science, entomology, plant pathology,
ecology, resource economics, philosophy, and animal science.
Hands on, outside the classroom learning opportunities:
- Internships on commercial farms.
- "Tractors and Farm Machinery: Safety, Maintenance, and Use", a non credit course
offered by the SAG Program.
- One day workshops/field day tours on various agricultural topics.
- Research field and laboratory assistants.
- Students have studied in several foreign countries through several University
Black Bear Food Guild
The Guild, a community supported agricultural endeavor, was initiated and developed by
students in response to need for more hands on learning. Students manage a vegetable
garden, two acres under vegetable production, one acre under cover crop, and 1/3 acre
devoted to seed increase for a Maine based cooperative seed company. The majority of
the operating capital is from the sale of membership shares. Students provide fresh
organically grown vegetables and a newsletter twice a week to 25 share holders.
Sustainable Agriculture Interest Group (SAIG)
SAIG was established in the fall of 1988 by a group of students of various disciplines
drawn together by their common pursuit of a more sustainable agriculture. The
organization is recognized by the University and the student government. In addition to
biweekly meetings, SAIG members discuss and investigate various topics that relate to
sustainable agriculture, sponsor off campus speakers, attend conferences, and organize
Recent summer employment of SAG students:
Employment of recent SAG graduates:
- Integrated pest management scout.
- Self employed organic market gardener.
- Field crew member for organic market garden.
- Farm crew for commercial dairy farm.
- Farm crew member for an organic dairy farm.
- Research field assistants.
- Self employed dairy farmers.
- Peace Corp and Americorp volunteers.
- Farm manager for Massachusetts Audubon Society.
- Manager for a milking sheep flock .
- Manager for large commercial greenhouse.
- Hydroponic plant producers.
- Plant therapist with handicapped people.
- Internship, The New York Botanical Garden.
- Graduate students.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Mary Wiedenhoeft
Sustainable Agriculture Program
University of Maine
5722 Deering Hall Rm 204A
Orono, ME 04469 5722
(207) 581- 2951
Return to AES Welcome page.
Last Updated March 27, 1996.