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Finding an Online Degree in Sustainable Agriculture

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 9/30/2011

Only a limited number of agricultural schools, colleges, and universities offer an online degree in Sustainable Agriculture, but the course is still gaining popularity among students both in developed and developing nations.

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    Choices in Third World Nations

    Wikimedia Commons / by USAID Bangladesh Searching for a degree in sustainable agriculture is easy. Many schools, colleges and universities worldwide offer this agricultural course, but only a limited number of these institutions make this educational pursuit available through a distance learning program.

    It would be wise for prospective students of an online degree in Sustainable Agriculture, to first closely examine each of the curricula offered in probable schools of choice. It would be sheer folly to just pick any institution at random or by the whim and caprice of a friend taking the same course.

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    Understanding the Curricula

    An examination of various school curricula on sustainable agriculture can only be effective with an in-depth understanding of the concept of sustainability in farming. Sustainable farming is a fairly recent phenomenon during the last few decades of the 20th century. This development can be viewed as an antithesis of the mechanized farming that was one of the highlights of the zenith of the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century.

    By definition sustainability in agriculture means the integration and utilization of plant and animal production practices that can be pursued for the long term. This concept heavily relies on ecological principles on the relationship among various organisms and the environment they live in.

    It is the primary pursuit of sustainable agriculture to supply the world’s food needs. In the pursuit of this objective, however, the available resources (both nonrenewable and on-farm) have to be used efficiently. Biological controls and cycles, wherever or whenever possible, are integrated to the systems and processes of sustainable agriculture.

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    Field-Based Endeavors and Online Curriculum

    Studying the many principles of sustainability in farming will involve taking up subjects on its methods such as soil amendment and crop rotation. Essentially, these are studies by which a lot of field applications will be required.

    The right school to enroll in for an online degree on agriculture would therefore be that institution which not only offers the best curriculum, but also have the facility by which an online student can participate in the field trips and on-site farm applications of the subjects on sustainable farming.

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    Bircham University Online

    Bircham University is one of those educational institutions that offer online degree on Sustainable Agriculture that composes the course subjects of Agriculture Science, Agriculture Production, Agriculture Machinery, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Biotechnology, Agrostology, Bioprocessing of Byproducts, Biosystems Engineering, Genetic Improvement, Plant Health Management, Horticulture, Soil Fertility, Sustainable Agriculture, Drainage & Irrigation and Soil Improvement. Each subject accounts for 3 units which total at 45 units for the whole course. Inclusive of Study Guide, textbook, tutoring, evaluation, and certificate of course completion, the cost runs around $390.

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    Washington State University Online

    Washington State University also have an online course in Sustainable Agriculture that require subjects of 1“Organic Gardening and Farming, Soil; A Living System, Professional Internship, World Agricultural Systems, Nutrition for Living, Ecological Soil Management, Soil Fertility, Biometry, Sustainable Small Farming and Ranching Overview, Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Crop Growth and Development, Agriculture, Environment and Community, Resolving Environmental Conflicts, Food Safety and Quality, Natural Resource Ecology, Field Analysis of Sustainable Food Systems, and Fundamentals of Microeconomics." Each subject also constitutes for 3 units and can run around $430. Writing portfolio fees, Lab Kit Fees, Media Rental Fees, and Proctoring Fees are additional cost.

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    SARE Program

    There is even a free online course funded by the 2“U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program" which is in coordination and under supervision with the UC Davis’ “1Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program" (http://www.sare.org/coreinfo/ceprogram.htm).

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    Credible educational institutions that offers online degree in Sustainable Agriculture may be limited at this moment, but the ever growing demand for this curriculum will not go unnoticed by competitors. In the coming year or even months, it is safe to say that the options for this particular online course will eventually increase and fill the demand.

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    References

    1http://online.wsu.edu/future_students/dc_organic_ag.aspx

    2http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/news/0701apr.htm

    http://online.wsu.edu/future_students/tuition_fees.aspx

    http://www.bircham.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=201&Itemid=421