Preparación exámenes B2/C1 Lección 5: Farming

B2 C1 Exam Preparation Course Lesson 5: Farming

What is organic? How is organic farming practised?

You know, it really begins with the way we grow our plants. When you eat an organic carrot, that’s a carrot that has been grown in soil that’s been nurtured using natural means. It’s a sustainable system. It’s a..it’s a sustainable ecosystem that the farmer manages, and it’s not dependant on a lot of technologies from outside. Modern agriculture is very dependent on a host of different kinds of chemical technologies, which help modern farmers to grow bigger crops, but sometimes there’s a great sacrifice in quality.
So, what organic farming is, is going back to that healthy soil, a sound ecosystem, out of which grows a healthy plant. Now, so when you eat that plant you capture the health of that entire ecosystem.
When it comes to livestock products, the organic livestock have to eat only organic food. So they get the healthy organic plants, whether that’s alfalfa or grass or corn, grown by the farmer in the same way that the organic vegetables that go to market are grown. And, the livestock that eat that food, of course, produce healthy, wholesome livestock products, which we eat, whether it’s beef or pork or milk or eggs or any of the other livestock products.
In addition to having to have only organic food for the livestock, the organic standard also governs the way that the livestock are treated.  So that, for instance, organic animals have to have access to outdoors. They can’t be in intensive confinement, where they only see the inside of a barn. Cows go out and eat grass. Even chickens and turkeys get a chance to see the light of day.
These are very important issues for the health of the animal, and ultimately, for the quality of the product that goes to the consumer.  And they also address the concerns of consumers, that the animals are treated in a humane fashion. All of this works together to create a very, very credible assurance that when the word organic is used, that there’s something of real value, something really different that’s happening in the production of that food.

ENGLISHESPAÑOL
  
NounsSustantivos
organic farmingagricultura ecológica
organic carrotzanahoria orgánica
natural meansmedios naturales
a sustainable systemun sistema sostenible
Modern agricultureLa agricultura moderna
chemical technologiestecnologías químicas
a great sacrificeun gran sacrificio
healthy soilsuelo sano
intensive confinementconfinamiento intensivo
  
AdjectivesAdjetivos
cripplingparalizante
  
Verbs and idiomsVerbos y expresiones
grown in soilcrecido en el suelo
nurturednutrido
to grow bigger cropspara producir cultivos más grandes
capturecaptura
grown by the farmercrecido por el agricultor
go to marketir al mercado
governsgobierna
get a chance totener la oportunidad de
see the light of dayver la luz del día
goes to the consumerva al consumidor
address the concerns ofabordar las preocupaciones de

Organic farming techniques are closing gap on conventional yields

Lauren C. Ponisio
Doctoral candidate in Conservation Biology at University of California, Berkeley

The unintended consequences of our agricultural food system – polluted air and water, dead zones in coastal seas, soil erosion – have profound implications for human health and the environment. So more sustainable agricultural practices are needed as soon as possible.
Some farmers have turned to less chemically-intensive techniques to reduce the negative impact of agriculture, such as organic farming, which has been shown to outperform conventional farming by many standards of environmental sustainability. The question is whether we can meet these environmental standards and still meet the demand for food, which is predicted to rise substantially in the next 50 years.
Comparing food systems
In our new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, we found that organic farming systems, when done right, come close to matching the productivity of conventional systems.
Designing a single experiment that could possibly represent the huge variation in crops, weather and soil necessary to get a complete answer is impossible. Instead, we examined the many specific studies that have already been conducted and combined their results – a meta-analysis. We compiled studies from across the globe that compared organic and conventional yields over three decades, representing more than 1,000 comparisons of 52 crop species from 38 countries.
This isn’t the first time researchers have attempted to answer this question, but previous studies have had conflicting results. Combining studies carried out by different scientists for different reasons is a big challenge. Depending on what data is included and how it is handled, answers can vary substantially. Many previous studies found organic yields were 8-25% lower than conventional systems. Another study found that organic farming outperformed conventional in developing countries. In revisiting this question, we used the most extensive dataset to date and methods that try to account for the complexity of the data.

A mirror to nature
We found that although organic crop yields are about 19% lower than conventional yields, certain management practices appear to significantly reduce this gap. In fact, planting multiple different crops at the same time (polyculture) and planting a sequence of crops (crop rotation) on an organic farm cut the difference in yield in half. Interestingly, both these practices are based on techniques that mimic natural systems, and have been practised for thousands of years. Our study strongly suggests that we can develop highly productive organic farming methods if we mimic nature by creating ecologically diverse farms that draw strength from natural interactions between species.
Crop rotation and polycultures are known to improve soil health and reduce pest pressure. Because these practices add diversity to the landscape they also support biodiversity, so they may improve yields while also protecting the environment.
We also found that for some crops such as oats, tomatoes and apples there were no differences in yield between organic and industrial farming at all. The largest yield gaps were found in two cereal crops, wheat and barley. However, since the agricultural Green Revolution in the mid-20th century, improving the yields of cereals grown using conventional, industrial agriculture has received a huge amount of research and funding – far more than organic agriculture. Little wonder, then, that we see a large difference in yields.
For example, some seeds are specifically bred to work well in the nutrient-rich, pest-free conditions found in conventional farms due to the heavy use of fertilisers and pesticides, so they may underperform in organic farms. But if we invested in organic agricultural research and development we’d no doubt see a large increase in the yield too.
We also found evidence that the yield gap estimate we and others have calculated is likely an overestimate. We found evidence of bias in the studies we compiled, which favoured the reporting of higher conventional yields relative to organic. This can arise for several reasons: the studies can favour specific crops or practices so that the results are unrepresentative, or introduce bias during the selection of results to be published. It’s impossible to know the origins of the bias, but it’s necessary to acknowledge the effect it will have on yield estimates.
Won’t solve everything
It’s important to remember that simply growing more food is not enough to address the twin crises of hunger and obesity. Current global food production already greatly exceeds what is needed to feed the world’s population, yet social, political, and economic factors prevent many people from living well-fed, healthy lives. A focus solely on increased yields will not solve the problem of world hunger.
To put the yield gap into context, the world’s food waste alone is 30-40% of food production per year. If food waste were cut by half, this would more than compensate for the difference in yield from converting to organic agriculture, as well as greatly reducing the environmental impact of agriculture.

(SOURCE: http://theconversation.com/organic-farming-techniques-are-closing-gap-on-conventional-yields-35320)

ENGLISHESPAÑOL
  
NounsSustantivos
unintended consequencesconsecuencias no deseadas
dead zoneszonas muertas
profound implicationsprofundas implicaciones
chemically-intensive techniquestécnicas químicamente intensivos
conventional farmingagricultura convencional
variation in cropsvariación en cultivos
specific studiesestudios específicos
  
AdjectivesAdjetivos
conflictingcontradictorio
extensiveextenso
cripplingparalizante
  
Verbs and idiomsVerbos y expresiones
to outperformpara superar
combined their resultscombinado sus resultados
compiled studiesestudios compilados
representing more thanen representación de más de
have attempted tohan intentado
revisiting this questionrevisitar esta pregunta
to significantly reduce this gapreducir significativamente esta brecha
planting multiple different cropsla plantación de varios cultivos diferentes
mimic natural systemsimitar los sistemas naturales
we can developpodemos desarrollar
to improve soil healthmejorar la salud del suelo

WRITING SKILLS

You can either:
* Complete 2 writing assignments. You have 40 minutes if you wish to complete one now. The 2nd assignment you can complete at home.
* You can also watch our Grammar VIDEO tutorials during the next 40 minutes if you prefer to complete the Writing at home.

For IELTS (Academic format), please select the ESSAY topic (250 words: in 40 minutes. Counts for 2/3 of the Writing score) and GRAPH DESCRIPTION (150 words: in 20 minutes. Counts for 1/3 of the Writing score). You will have 1h to complete both tasks on the day of the exam.

* ESSAY: Write an essay addressing the issue intensive farming and food quality.
* GRAPH DESCRIPTION:
Intensive Animal Farming (Source: Wikipedia)
This visual aid shows us contemporary animal production in 2014 and how Countries worldwide support their livestock industries with billions of dollars.. Summarise the  information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

b2 c1 lesson 5 graph description writing

For IELTS (General format), please select the ESSAY topic (250 words) and LETTER (150 words). You will have 1h to complete both tasks on the day of the exam.

* ESSAY: Write an essay addressing the issue intensive farming and food quality.
* LETTER: An agricultural area near your home is using pesticides to treat the crop. Write a letter of complaint to the farmer.

For FCE, please select 2 of the following: ESSAY, LETTER/EMAIL, REPORT, or REVIEW. You will have 1h20 to complete the tasks on the day of the exam.

* ESSAY: Write an essay addressing the issue intensive farming and food quality.
* LETTER: An agricultural area near your home is using pesticides to treat the crop. Write a letter of complaint to the farmer.
* REVIEW: You have just read an article on the health and environment properties of organic farming. Write a review on organic farming benefits.
* REPORT: Write a report on the connection between GM foods and health issues.

For CAE, please select 2 of the following: ESSAY, LETTER/EMAIL, PROPOSAL, REPORT, or REVIEW. You will have 1h30 to complete the tasks on the day of the exam.
* ESSAY: Write an essay addressing the issue intensive farming and food quality.
* LETTER: An agricultural area near your home is using pesticides to treat the crop. Write a letter of complaint to the farmer.
* REVIEW: You have just read an article on the health and environment properties of organic farming. Write a review on organic farming benefits.
* PROPOSAL: Write a proposal for a new market that promotes independent farmers wares.
* REPORT: Write a report on the connection between GM foods and health issues.

For TOEFL, please select the ESSAY topic and write a second essay response based on either the READING or LISTENING passage of the lesson. You will have 50 minutes to complete both essays on the day of the exam.

* ESSAY: Write an essay addressing the issue intensive farming and food quality.
* ESSAY: Essay response based on either the reading or listening passage of today’s lesson (Farming): Based on the reading, although organic farming yields less than conventional farming what are the benefits of implementing organic farming techniques worldwide, environmentally, health wise etc.?

B2_C1 Exam preparation FARMING

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