AGriculturAl Systems thinking - STOCKSCH 379 - Fall Semester


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Introduction: The famous naturalist and professor Aldo Leopold’s suggestion that “only a mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf” reminds us that to understand how ecosystems function, we need to “think like a mountain."  If you’ve never heard this quote, it’s time to read A Sand County Almanac!  And if you are a student of agricultural ecology or a related field at the University of Massachusetts, perhaps it’s time to take a class in Agricultural Systems Thinking.


Think Like a Mountain to Create Sustainable Systems


Industrial agriculture violates just about every ecological principle we know in an attempt to maximize short-term financial success.  Leopold was tough on industrial farming in his 1949 essay in which he wrote that farmers and ranchers have “…not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.”  We have dead zones in the oceans, anti-biotic resistant bacteria developing from factory farms, nitrates in the groundwater, herbicides in the surface water, floods and drought, and on and on…..


We must do better!


This is no longer the “offiical” web page for my class.  Please see:


To think like a mountain

is a term coined by Aldo Leopold in his book A Sand County Almanac.


It is to have an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all the elements in an ecosystem over space and time.

In preparation for class, you may want to download an article linked here.  By the end of class you WILL understand this article.  For now, enjoy!

And some historical systems quotes.

....and some quotes from "What the bleep?"


@ Copyright John Gerber 2014