The terrestrial farm of the future will have trees and shrubs growing among crop plants to create beneficial micro-climates. Solar-powered drip irrigation will deliver water directly to the roots of plants, avoiding the run-off that carries away valuable soil, nutrients and fertilizers today. Intercropping (planting two or more non-competing crops near to each other) will make the most of available sunlight, water and nutrients. Green manures, quick growing plants that are uprooted or mown and left to wither into mulch, will help prevent erosion and replace nutrients in the soil. And “weeds” will be strategically interlaced among fields of crops to invite helpful insects and repel pests.
As an agroecologist, you’ll help restore ecological balance while feeding and fueling the planet. Agroecologists will work with farmers to design and manage agricultural ecosystems whose parts (plants, water, nutrients and insects) work together to create an effective and sustainable means of producing the food and environmentally-friendly biofuel crops of the future.
Agroecologists will also work with Rewilders to re-introduce native species and biodiversity to repair the damage done by the ecosystem-disruptive farming techniques of the past.
You will need an undergraduate degree in agroecology, where you’ll learn how plants, soil, insects, animals, nutrients, water and weather interact with one another to create the living systems in which crop-based foods are grown. You’ll also learning about the technologies and methods involved in growing food in a sustainable way. Your work may also lead you into pursuing graduate studies (such as a masters or Ph.D.) that can lead to a career in teaching and research.