Ritical commentary on online participation with postings and discussion forum

Please follow the instructions carefully.
Instructions:
Select and critique your best two postings/contributions to Moodle Discussions, plus select and assess the best two postings you chose from the rest of your friends postings.

800-850 words of critical commentary, excluding the text of the postings themselves (which should be attached to the assignment) (Check by using the computer word count) Text beyond 850 words will not be marked.

In your commentary, assess how well your postings or those of your peers contributed to and stimulated further discussion and group learning on the topic, using the literature to support your views. What unique ideas and thoughts did you or your peers contribute? How well did you or your peers engage other members of the group in the discussion? How did this change your understanding or the understanding of the group about the issue? Your selection and/or approach may include:
-an idea advanced by you to the group for evaluation
-a critical evaluation of a classmateas idea or work
-a self-reflective discussion point in which you critically evaluate your own ideas and how you might improve.

Note:
1. The impact of these discussions is unlikely to be immediate. So, be clear about the context and the timeframes as well as the a?topic postinga itself.
2. Your reflection on your peeras input should be respectful. The focus is on your learning and the learning of the group as a whole, it is not about criticising the quality of other studentsa work.

Marking criteria:
Criteria:
Critique own postings and identify and describe personal learning.

Expectation for a high distinction:
Is confident in application of own criteria of
judgement and in challenge of received opinion in action and can reflect on action.
Independently takes and understands multiple perspectives and through these can identify and describe personal learning.

Criteria:
Assess student postings and identify and describe group learning.
Expectation for a high distinction:
Able to assess/examine the work of others using
broad ranging criteria. Can provide commentary on
how well the postings contributed to and
stimulated further discussion and group learning
on the topic and offer insight into how the postings
could be developed. Independently takes and understands multiple perspectives and through these can identify and describe group learning.

Criteria:
Analysis and choice of postings (own and other
studentas)
Expectation for a high distinction:
Uses all available data to evaluate the options.
Clear criteria are applied to demonstrate reasons
for final decision/choice.

Criteria:
Format, style and structure
Expectation for a high distinction:
Fluent writing style appropriate to the document. Information flows in a logical and effective manner. Grammar and spelling accurate. Report uses:
12 Point Font
1.5 line spacing
2.5cm margins: top, bottom and sides
is within the word limit

Criteria:
References
Expectation for a high distinction:
Referencing is consistently accurate. Correct use of author-date system of referencing in text and in the reference list, according to APA.

Activity 1

Permaculture
Natural ecosystems select for a diversity of species. Modern agriculture has minimised diversity in favour of vulnerable monocultures, lacking stability and resilience. Permaculture is defined as sustainable agriculture, sharing many features with natural forest systems (Leahy 2004). One of the principles of permaculture is the sustainability of the abundance and distribution of species. The emphasis is on labour-intensive cropping and harvesting, and use of perennial crops. Some types of crop rotation resemble ecological succession in that the current crop prepares the land for the next crop production. These rotations enhance soil recovery, increase the nutrient levels in soil to sustain later crop growth, and reduce the intensity of pest buildup (Thomas & Kevan 1993). Pest control is managed through mixing a variety of species, or polyculture.

Qother types of sustainable agriculture:
What other types of sustainable agricultural methods can you find information about?
Hint: Many developing countries still use the food production approaches described earlier in this module. Find an article or website with an example or case study.
Share the reference, with a brief outline, on the Discussion board.

My answer for the activity 1 (my posting number 1)
Farmers work efficiently with natural processes when they take a sustainable approach or method (Union of Concern Scientists, 2010).
There are some sustainable agriculture techniques that I found on Union of Concern Scientists website and they are really interesting. According to Union of Concern Scientists (2010) those sustainable techniques were created to provide high yields without damaging the natural systems and resources that productivity depends on. By using these techniques, farmers can lower their use of pesticides and fertilizers, and by this way, they can save money, the environment and the future (Union of Concern Scientists, 2010).
The following agriculture techniques are the most common ones that used to control weeds, pests, diseases, erosion and quality of soil:

1-Crop rotation: crop rotation means growing different types of crops in the same field in sequential seasons (Union of Concern Scientists, 2010). It is one of the most wonderful sustainable techniques that are used to avoid many accidental agriculture problems (Berzsenyi et al, 2000). For example, this technique is used to avoid the growth of pests and pathogens that prefer certain types of crops. European corn borer in the United States for instance is a pest that prefers to grow in corn crops which are continuously cultivated in the same field. Four or sixyear rotations would prevent this growth of pests (Union of Concern Scientists, 2010). The usage of crop rotation prevents the pest reproductive cycles, and thereby rotations reduce pest pressure on all crops (Union of Concern Scientists, 2010).

2-Cover crops: Cover crop is planting the ground between cropping periods (Fageria et al, 2005). This technique gives the following benefits:
preventing soil erosion.
decreasing the growth of weeds.
improving soil quality.
Moreover, it reduces the need for chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers (Fageria et al, 2005).

3-Soil enrichment: soil is considered as the most important element of agriculture ecosystems (Union of Concern Scientists, 2010). Using beneficial microbes is good to keep the soil healthy, but those microbes are often killed off by overused of pesticides. If the soils are good, the yields can be improved and the crops can become less vulnerable to pests (Willson et al, 2001). According to Jenkins (2004) abused soils often need heavy fertilizers to produce high yields which can affect the environment badly and increase the rate of soil erosion. There are many ways to improve soil quality such as:
keeping some of the crop residues in the field after harvest (Jenkins, 2004).
using composted plant materials or animal manure (Willson et al, 2001).

4Natural predators: it is a very exciting idea to use predators such as birds, insects and spiders (Union of Concern Scientists, 2010). Union of Concern Scientists (2010) stated that it is an effective technique to control pests, but unfortunately some of those predators are killed by farmers or by using intensive pesticides.

For further information you can visit the Union of Concern Scientists webpage:
food_and_agriculture

References
Berzsenyi, Z. O rffy, B. & Lap, D. (2000). Effect of crop rotation and fertilisation on maize and wheat yields and yield stability in a long-term experiment. European Journal of Agronomy, Vol. 13: pp. 225-244.

Fageria, NK. Baligar, VC. Bailey, BA. (2005). Role of cover crops in improving soil and row crop productivity. Communications in Soil Science an