Lesson on Pesticides and Sustainable Farming

Pest Management in Agriculture
Lesson 1 – Managing Pests in Agriculture (Building Observation and Analytical Skills, Investigating)
1-1.5 hours
This lesson will guide students through the decision-making process that is an integral part of pest management in agriculture. Making knowledge-based decisions for effective and environmentally safe management of a pest is a critical step. In this lesson, students will use their knowledge about pest status, biology, habitat, habits, and tolerance to help make decisions about which management strategies to use on a pest population. It is likely that many students will think that pesticides are the only means of managing a pest population. This lesson introduces students to a variety of non-chemical management practices implemented in programs all over the world. While students will also learn more about pesticides and safety issues concerning pesticides, these lessons will help them apply what they have learned to effectively manage pests without the use of pesticides.
Appropriate SC Science Standards for the Following Lesson Grade 6-7:
A. Process Skills – 5a, 6a
B. Inquiry, 1a
Life Science
A. Characteristics of Organisms – 1c
B. Organisms and Their Environment – 1b, 2ab, 3abcd
Resources for the following lesson
Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean - Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming, by Sigrid Schmalzer
Students will:
• Review information they have learned about pests and invasive species
• Understand that management tactics need to regulate a pest population below tolerable levels • Learn about the different management methods practiced in an IPM program: cultural, biological, physical, chemical
• Learn to choose which control options are best for a given situation
• Think critically about the decision-making process
• Understand the dangers, consequences, and safe use of pesticides
• Be able to recognize pesticides in their environment
Suitable environment
Cultural control
Physical controls
Biological control
Habitat modification
Resistant plants
Prevention Chemicals
Copy of Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean
Opening Activity
Begin by reading Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean as a class or independently. After reading the story, lead a class discussion using the following topic questions;
How many pest management methods were mentioned in the book? What were they?
What are the benefits and disadvantages of using pesticides in agriculture?
What was the solution that Pu Zhelong introduced the Chinese farmers?
How did this solution benefit the village?
The following activity will introduce your students to the kinds of information that can be found on a pesticide label. You may want to have students do the activity individually, or it can also be done as a class. Have students go to the EPA’s web page (https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-labels) and click on the pesticide label image in the right column. On the new page that opens, place the cursor over the blue text to read a description of that particular label section. Point out that all pesticide labels contain the sections that are seen on the generic pesticide label, including:
• Directions for use,
• Precautionary statements (in terms of hazards to humans and domestic animals, environmental hazards, and physical and chemical hazards),
• Storage and disposal,
• Signal words,
• First aid,
• Active ingredients,
• Inert ingredients,
After viewing and discussing the generic pesticide label, give each student one of the sample pesticide labels and a copy of the Pesticide worksheet (at the end of the lesson). Have the students look at the sample labels to find the following information: product name, type of pesticide (rodenticide, insecticide, etc.), signal word, and environmental hazards. Some of the pesticides may list more environmental hazards than there is room on the chart. You may want to limit how many environmental hazards the students have to list or let them continue the list on the back of the worksheet when they run out of room on the chart. When finished with the first label, have students trade with another student and fill in the chart for two more pesticides.
End class with an Exit slip. Students will write down what they learned about pesticides and their opinion on whether they should be used in agriculture or not.
Extended Enrichment Activity
Divide students into pairs or groups and assign each group (or have them select) one of the pests listed. Each group will then research their pest and come up with a list of management suggestions that do not include pesticides. The groups should draw pictures, or write short paragraphs about how they chose to control their pest population, and present to the class. Encourage students in the audience to ask questions, to brainstorm possible problems that might be encountered with the management plans, and to conclude whether the recommended tactics could be reasonably implemented.
This assignment is designed to give the students an opportunity to think through a problem and come up with some solutions, evaluate for potential problems and revise their proposed solutions. It provides students with a real life team situation in which proposals are made, then evaluated and often revised.
Lesson 1 - Managing Pests in Agriculture Name ________________________
Pesticide Worksheet
Directions: Every pesticide label is required to include certain kinds of information. Use the information found on 3 different pesticide labels to fill in the chart below.
Product Name
Kind of pesticide (i.e. insecticide, etc)
Signal Word
Environmental Hazards

These materials are intended for use with this source material

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