Field and Laboratory Investigations in Agroecology: 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Field and Laboratory Investigations in Agroecology

3rd Edition

By Stephen R. Gliessman

CRC Press

256 pages | 59 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2014-12-19
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Agroecology is defined as the application of ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable food systems. Hence, learning can best be achieved through an experiential approach to the topic. Designed to accompany Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition, Field and Laboratory Investigations in Agroecology, Third Edition features 24 investigations divided into five sections that parallel the main text:

  • Studies of Environmental Factors: These investigations deal with how an individual plant responds to the environment, how environmental factors in specific agroecosystems are measured and characterized, and how particular environmental factors affect individual plants.
  • Studies of Population Dynamics in Crop Systems:This section studies how populations of organisms act in agroecosystems. It focuses on what populations are present, how they change over time and respond to the environment, and how individuals within a population may interact.
  • Studies of Interspecific Interactions in Cropping Communities: This section emphasizes the between-species interactions of the organisms that make up crop communities. These interactions include herbivory, allelopathy, and mutualisms.
  • Studies of Farm and Field Systems: These investigations cover system-level agroecology and whole farms or systems within farm boundaries. They touch on the complexity with which the farmer deals in managing agroecosystems.
  • Food System Studies: These investigations reach out beyond the individual farm to examine components of the food system at a local level, which impact all of the levels of analysis in the first four parts.

This manual facilitates hands-on learning that involves close observation, creative interpretation, and constant questioning of findings. The investigations emphasize the importance of careful data interpretation and presentation and the value of a clear, concise, and well-written research report. The book uses simple statistical analysis for data management and interpretation and students are guided through the steps of data analysis in the context of the particular investigations in which it is employed.


"This excellent book accompanies Stephen Gliessman's Agroecology textbook. Its purpose is to give students opportunities to gain direct experience with the concepts that make up agroecology, its application, and its principles of design and management. … This is a valuable manual, and vital for all concerned with learning and teaching in agricultural courses. It deserves to be widely used."

—Jules Pretty OBE, Experimental Agriculture

Table of Contents

Studies of Environmental Factors

Effect of Microclimate on Seed

Light Transmission and the Vegetative Canopy

Soil Temperature

Soil Moisture Content

Soil Properties Analysis

Canopy Litterfall Analysis

Mulch System Comparison

Root System Response to Soil Type

Studies of Population Dynamics in Crop Systems

Intraspecific Interactions in a Crop Population

Management History and the Weed Seedbank

Comparison of Arthropod Populations

Census of Soil-Surface Fauna

Studies of Interspecific Interactions in Cropping Communities

Bioassay for Allelopathic Potential

Rhizobium Nodulation in Legumes

Effects of Agroecosystem Diversity on Herbivore Activity

Herbivore Feeding Preferences

Effects of a Weedy Border on Insect Populations

Studies of Farm and Field Systems

Mapping Agroecosystem Biodiversity

Overyielding in an Intercrop System

Grazing Intensity and Net Primary Productivity

Effects of Trees in an Agroecosystem

Food System Studies

On-Farm Energy Use

Farmer Interview

Local Food Market Analysis

Instructor’s Appendix

Appendix A: Planning the Field and Laboratory Course

General Appendices

Appendix B: Measurement Equivalents

Appendix C: Material and Equipment Suppliers

About the Author

Stephen R. Gliessman is an agroecologist who integrates science, practice, and social activism. He helped establish agroecology in Mexico in the 1970’s and founded the first academic program in agroecology in the world at UCSC in 1982, where he is now Emeritus Professor of Agroecology. He co-founded the non-profit Community Agroecology Network (CAN). Professor Gliessman has published extensively on agroecology and the transformation of food systems to sustainability, including his textbook Agroecology: Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems. He teaches agroecology seminars and courses around the world and dry-farms sustainable wine grapes and olives with his family at their farm in California.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / General
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / Forestry