AP Environmental Science : Agriculture

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Agriculture

What is the main ecological benefit of establishing shelterbelts?

Possible Answers:

Shelterbelts limit the rate at which nutrients are leeched from the soil and end up in water tables.

The trees that compose a shelterbelt fix nitrogen into the soil, limiting the rate of nutrient depletion one would see on a commercial farm.

Shelterbelts provide habitat for wildlife that would otherwise be inhabiting fields and feeding off of crops.

The trees that compose a shelterbelt produce oxygen and fix carbon, combating the threat of climate change.

Shelterbelts guard cultivated areas from wind, reducing the rate of soil lost to erosion from wind.

Correct answer:

Shelterbelts guard cultivated areas from wind, reducing the rate of soil lost to erosion from wind.

Explanation:

Shelterbelts do fix carbon and some trees do fix nitrogen, but the dominant ecological benefit is their limiting of wind-caused soil erosion. Shelterbelts mimic a forest ecosystem by diverting wind currents away from soil that is often exposed by tilling.

Example Question #2 : Agriculture

What is the primary benefit of conservation tilling (no-till) farming?

Possible Answers:

Elimination of the need for compost and other soil additives

Limited to nonexistent soil erosion

Increases of permeability of soil for water

Increase of organic matter returned to the topsoil

The loosening-up of the soil, aiding in the establishment of seedlings

Correct answer:

Limited to nonexistent soil erosion

Explanation:

Tilling has the benefit of increasing permeability of the soil for water and creating favorable conditions for young seedlings. No-till farming does not have these benefits, but it does reduce the risk of soil erosion because tilling generally destroys preestablished root systems.

Example Question #3 : Agriculture

Aphids, cucumber beetles, locusts and other insects will always be problematic for growers. Which of the following would be an effective method to prevent infestations without the use of pesticides?

Possible Answers:

Picking each individual insect and squishing them. 

Mixed cropping (planting many different crops as opposed to just one or two). 

Remove all the mulched biomass from your fields. That is where the insects are laying eggs and breeding. 

Mulching regularly. The more often the better. 

Irrigate regularly to flood out pests. 

Correct answer:

Mixed cropping (planting many different crops as opposed to just one or two). 

Explanation:

Mulching can actually provide habitat for slugs, while removing mulch and topsoil puts your fields at serious risk of soil depletion and eventual erosion. Flooding your fields is also ineffective and could jeopardize your existing crops (and soil health for that matter!). Finding and squishing every single pest might put a small dent in the crops lost, but how much is your time worth? Mixed cropping is the best option, because many pests are specialists and feed off certain crops (leafy greens, drupes, etc.). Some of your crops will suffer but not all of them. 

Example Question #4 : Agriculture

Which is used to allow farmers to utilize hillsides?

Possible Answers:

Rangeland

Terracing

Monoculture

Polyculture

Correct answer:

Terracing

Explanation:

Terracing creates level shelves on hillsides to hold water and soil for growing crops. This method can be very expensive. Rangelands are the areas of land that are grazed on by animals. A monoculture refers to the cultivation of a single crop or animal, while a polyculture involves the cultivation of multiple different types of crops and/or animals in a given area.

Example Question #5 : Agriculture

Green manure is incorporated into soils by plowing to increase available organic matter. Which is the source of green manure?

Possible Answers:

Pigs

Cattle

Chickens

Vegetation

Correct answer:

Vegetation

Explanation:

Vegetation used for green material is typically still-growing or freshly cut. 

Example Question #6 : Agriculture

Traditional subsistence agriculture produces enough crops/livestock to provide for which of the following choices?

Possible Answers:

One family, plus a great amount of surplus to sell

One individual

One small community

One family, plus some surplus

Correct answer:

One family, plus some surplus

Explanation:

Traditional subsistence agriculture provides enough food to support one family and occasionally a surplus to sell, trade, or store.

Example Question #7 : Agriculture

Which of the following is a projected disadvantage of using genetically modified crops and foods?

Possible Answers:

Crops need less water

Production of harmful toxins resulting from gene mutation

Higher crop yields

None of these

Plants are able to grow in harsher climates

Correct answer:

Production of harmful toxins resulting from gene mutation

Explanation:

GMO stands for "genetically modified organisms.” Scientists have manipulated the genetic material of the organism to create more productive crops.   GMO's combine traits from significantly different species, creating an organism that has never occurred in nature. The resultant organism is less stable and likely to be modified, creating toxins or other negative mutations. The benefits of using GMO's include higher crop yields, as well as cultivating crops needing less water that are able to grow in harsher climates.

Example Question #8 : Agriculture

There are many different types of pesticides and herbicides that help agricultural producers control for different types of nuisances outbreaks that can destroy crops. If a farm experiences an outbreak of weeds from multiple plant species, then which of the following remedies should the farmer use?

Possible Answers:

Nonselective herbicide

Broad-Spectrum insecticide

Narrow-spectrum insecticide

Selective herbicide 

 

None of these

Correct answer:

Nonselective herbicide

Explanation:

The farmer should use a nonselective herbicide. We can narrow down the answer choices to herbicides because they are used to control plants and weeds. The question also states that there are multiple species of weeds that the farmer needs to control. This means the farmer should use a nonselective herbicide, which kills multiple species—rather than a selective herbicide that will only kill a certain plant species. Insecticides are the wrong answer choice because they control for insects, not plants. 

Example Question #9 : Agriculture

IPM is a tool a farmers use to minimize insect damage to their crops. Farmers can do this by maintaining a healthy ecosystem that naturally controls insect outbreaks, but still allows some predation on crops. Which of the following best defines the acronym: IPM?

Possible Answers:

None of these

Invertebrate preventative methods

Insect population monitoring

Interpretive pathogen management

Integrated pest management 

Correct answer:

Integrated pest management 

Explanation:

IPM stands for "integrated pest management." IPM is a process that minimizes the impact of pests upon agricultural or natural areas that pose minimal risks to people or the environment. In this process farmers may shield disease prone species from pests by planting a barrier of healthy pest resistant crops in front of them.

Example Question #10 : Agriculture

One of the most pressing issues in the field of agriculture is how to feed a growing planet. Between the 1930s and 1960s, the __________ transformed and modernized the agricultural system in the United States. This transformation caused farmers to mechanize their production and increase their crop yields. What is this period of transformation/transition called?

Possible Answers:

The Green Revolution

The Agricultural Revolution

The Environmental Revoultion

The Production Revolution

Correct answer:

The Green Revolution

Explanation:

The correct response is The Green Revolution. The father of this revolution was Norman Borlaug. He received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970s for his working in the Green Revolution, credited as saving a billion lives because of his involvement in the agricultural enhancements. 

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