Sustainable Farm Systems: Long-Term Socio-Ecological Metabolism in Western Agriculture, 1700-2000
In August 2014 I started a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Sustainable Farm Systems Project, a SSHRC Partnership Grant based out of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Here I will build on the work of the Great Plains Population and Environment Project, conducting new research in agriculture on the Great Plains/Prairies and in my own case study of Prince Edward Island. My larger research program focuses on the limits of agro-ecosystems, from flax production on the edge of the semi-arid grasslands land to abandoned farms “going spruce” in Prince Edward Island. In this vein I will be applying the new methods of socio-ecological metabolism and particularly the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) models developed by the SFS team.
Andrew Watson and Geoff Cunfer wrote a Research Spotlight: Sustainable Farm Systems to describe the project and some of its progress up to October 2015.
About the project (from the University of Saskatchewan website):
This interdisciplinary research project, funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council through a Partnership Grant, with matching contributions from partner universities and national science ministries in Austria and Spain, creates a formal partnership among 5 research groups in Europe, Latin America, and North America. For a decade or more these teams have explored the environmental history of agro-ecosystems in the past, using the perspective of socio-ecological metabolism to understand how farmers managed soil nutrients, landscape processes, and energy flows to sustain communities and produce food for themselves and society. Led by historians, the project also includes agronomists, soil scientists, landscape ecologists, economists, and demographers. Dr. Geoff Cunfer hosts the project at the University of Saskatchewan. The team includes over 30 faculty members plus dozens of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at universities in Austria, Spain, Colombia, Cuba, the United States, and Canada.