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Title:Regenerative agriculture and landscape architecture: a promising partnership
Author(s):Myers, Kayla
Advisor(s):McGuire, Mary Pat
Contributor(s):Hays, David L; Yocca, David
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Agriculture, like landscape architecture, is an interface between human culture and the rest of the ecologic world. The agro-ecological interface has become incredibly damaging, to humans and the rest of the living world. Globalized industrialized agriculture has led to unprecedented human labor efficiency in growing cash crops. This is achieved through the use of fertilizers, fossil fuels, heavy vertical integration, and high mechanization. In 1860, 56 percent of the United States population worked in agriculture while today, only about one percent of people work in agriculture (Waterhouse n.d.). However, this labor efficiency has a high ecologic cost. Industrialized agriculture is contributing significantly to climate change, polluting waterways, eroding topsoil, abusing animals, providing abysmal working conditions and low wages for farmers and farm workers, and driving global biodiversity loss. Growing food that sustains the human population and the rest of the biotic community requires a paradigm shift from industrialized agriculture focused on efficiency of human labor to regenerative agriculture focused on biodiversity. Regeneration of our agricultural ecosystems, involves attention to four fundamental principles: 1. Rebuilding close relationships with both domestic and free-living species as critical to our community 2. Design which is not overly deterministic, and allows the site to evolve and fluctuate 3. Designing and allowing the site to provide and regenerate all the necessities for healthy soils and healthy life 4. Designing sites with intact nutrient and water cycling. My thesis builds from these principles and specifically identifies a set of foundational nutrient and water cycling concepts which designers and producers need for regenerative design. These concepts are currently under-developed in both agriculture and landscape architecture. My primary goals include: first setting forth a set of foundational nutrient and water cycling concepts which designers and producers need in order to practice and implement regenerative design and second, developing a way to communicate those concepts to landscape architects and producers, including ways to study a site in order to propose a set of planting strategies to regenerate soils and ecologic communities as the foundation for sustainable agricultural design. Over a period of nine months, I utilized several methods of site investigation and site understanding on a specific site that is being considered for conversion to regenerative agriculture. I prioritized an inventory and understanding of the life and ecology present on the site. I studied the ecologic role of multiple species on site as well as the human perception and receptiveness of those species. I then designed and created an exhibition to communicate the foundational principles of regenerative design to landscape architects and producers. Finally, I created a framework agri-eco restoration, operations, and care plan from these investigations for conversion of the study site to regenerative agriculture.
Issue Date:2020-07-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Kayla Myers
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-10-07
Date Deposited:2020-08

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