Topic: Agricultural Ecology
- Definition Of Agricultural Ecology And Ecosystem
- Components Of Farm Ecosystem
- General Interaction Among The Components Of Ecosystem
At the end of this article, readers should be able to:
1. Define Agricultural Ecology And Ecosystem.
2. State The Components Of Farm Ecosystem.
3. Name The Biotic Factors And Abiotic Factors In A Farm Ecosystem.
4. Discuss The General Interaction Among The Components Of A Ecosystem.
Definition Of Agricultural Ecology And Ecosystem
Agricultural ecology can simply be defined as the study of crop plants and farm animals in relation to their environment. Ecology is derived from a Greek word Oikos which means home or dwelling place. In other words, agricultural ecology can be defined as a field of study which deals with the relationship of living organisms with one another and with the environment in which they live.
Agricultural ecology is divided into two main branches:
1. Autecology: Autecology is concerned with the study of individual organism, or a single species of organism and its environment for example, the study of a single cattle and its environment.
2. Synecology: Synecology is concerned with the study of inter-relationships between groups of organisms or species of organisms living together in an area for example, the study of different fishes in a fish pond in relation to their aquatic environment.
An ecosystem refers to a community of crop plants and farm animals functioning together with their non-living environment. In other words, ecosystem consists of living factors (plants and animals) interacting with the non-living factors in a farm environment. It should be noted that a farm ecosystem is a natural unit in which there is an interaction between all living organisms (called biotic factors) and non-living organisms (called abiotic factors) within a farm environment or habitat.
Components Of Farm Ecosystem
The farm ecosystem is made up of two main components. These are the biotic (living) components and the abiotic (non-living) components.
1. Biotic Components: The biotic components include the living things (crop plants and farm animals). The biotic components can be grouped into two classes. These are heterotrophism and autotrophism.
i. Autotrophism: This is a group of organisms which can use sunlight or chemicals to manufacture their food from inorganic substance during the process of photosynthesis. In other words, autotrophs are organisms mainly crop plants which are capable of synthesizing their own food hence they are called producers. Producers are green plants or autotrophs which traps the energy of sunlight, radiant energy or solar energy and converts it to chemical energy in order to form organic compounds during photosynthesis using carbon dioxide and water or simple inorganic substance as raw materials. Producers or autotrophs provide food for the other organisms in the farm.
ii. Heterotrophism: Heterotrophism is a group of organisms mainly farm animals, which can not manufacture their own food but depend directly or indirectly on plants for their food, hence they are called consumers. Farm animals that feed directly on green plants (producers) are called herbivores or primary consumers e.g. Cattle, sheep, goat and rabbit while animals or organisms that feed on primary consumers are called carnivores or secondary consumers. Animals that feed on the secondary consumers are called tertiary consumers. Heterotrophs includes all farm animals, fungi and some bacteria.
2. Abiotic Components: The abiotic components of an ecosystem include the non-living things which are:
i. Climatic factors like temperature, wind, humidity, sunlight and rainfall.
ii. Inorganic materials and nutrients such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous.
iii. Edaphic factors like soils, rocks, topography.
iv. Other factors like dust, storm, fire and water.
General Interaction Among The Components Of Ecosystem
There is a unique interaction among the various components of an ecosystem. Green crop plants are carbon dioxide, water and chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight to produce carbohydrate or starch.
Farm animals feed on these carbohydrates or plants and release carbon dioxide for crop plant to take in. Micro-organisms and other decomposers break down dead plants and animal Dung’s to release nutrients to the soil. These nutrients are absorbed by pants for use in food production. Crop plants gives out oxygen during photosynthesis which is used by animals for their normal respiration.