Arid Lands Newsletter--link to home pageNo. 36, Fall/Winter 1994
Desert Architecture III: Building a Sustainable Future



Graduate program in Arid Lands Resource Sciences adds a fourth area of concentration

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The interdisciplinary Arid Lands Resource Sciences (ALRS) Doctoral Program at The University of Arizona announces the addition of an Economic Botany Studies track to its curriculum for advanced inquiry into the ecological, economic, and social factors that determine the long-term sustainable use of arid and semiarid lands. The new track complements existing areas of concentration in Development Studies, Ethnoecological Studies, and Physical Studies.

The Economic Botany track focuses on the use and development of new low-water-use specialty and industrial cash crops suitable for the practice of sustainable agriculture in the world's drylands. Students in this field of research and study, which draws upon the disciplines of botany, natural products chemistry, pharmacology, taxonomy, horticulture, agronomy, genetics, cultural anthropology, and archaeology, will be trained in the commercialization of desirable new crops.

Owing to the research interests of current faculty, students in Economic Botany Studies initially will gravitate toward either chemical applications and alternative production systems or new crops research and development. The core curriculum for this track consists of coursework in Economic Botany of Arid Lands, Arid Land Crop Ecology, Plant Physiology, Plant Systematics, and Organic Chemistry. In addition, all students in the ALRS program must complete a common core curriculum, including coursework in The Arid and Semiarid Lands, Physical Aspects of Arid Lands, Arid Lands Research, Physical and Biological Nature of Arid Lands, Cultures and Institutions of Arid Lands, Use and Management of Arid Lands, and the seminar series Current Topics in Arid Lands Research. A dissertation is required.

The ALRS program is administered by a ten-member Executive Committee, including faculty drawn from the Departments of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Biochemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geography, and Psychology, the Office of Arid Lands Studies, and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. The teaching faculty of some thirty members is drawn from these areas of study and others, including Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Anthropology, Architecture, Geosciences, Plant Sciences, Renewable Natural Resources, and Soil and Water Sciences.

Application deadline for admission at the Fall Term is March 1 for U.S. applicants and February 1 for international applicants. Application deadline for admission at the Spring Term is October 1 for U.S. applicants and August 1 for international applicants.

For details on the Arid Lands Resource Sciences graduate program and any of its areas of concentration, contact:

Chair, ALRS Ph.D. Program
c/o Ms. Carmen Ortiz Henley
Office of Arid Lands Studies
The University of Arizona
845 North Park Avenue
Tucson AZ 85719 USA
Telephone: 602-621-1955
Fax: 602-621-3816

Letter from Sky High Ranch

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The Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC) of Berkeley, California, is a pioneer in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) theory and practice. The following letter is abridged from an article written by Helga Olkowski, William Olkowski, and Sheila Daar for IPM Practitioner:

For more than 20 years BIRC's staff has been designing and implementing IPM programs in a wide variety of agricultural and urban settings throughout the U.S. These "hands-on" programs have served as working models, inspiring others to adapt them to suit their own situations.

Our first experience with this approach came in the early 1970s when, working with the Farallones Institute, we initiated and helped develop the Integral Urban House in Berkeley (The Integral Urban House, by H. Olkowski, W. Olkowski, and T. Javits; 1979; San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.). This involved transforming a typical urban house into a self-reliant life support system involving food production, wind and solar energy, composting, gray water recycling, IPM programs, and a host of other "revolutionary" integrated systems concepts. The Integral Urban House received worldwide publicity and continues to inspire change in urban lifestyles today through its many replicas in the U.S. and abroad.

Now we are turning our attention to agricultural systems using our 60-acre field station, Sky High Ranch near Davis, California, as a living laboratory. The purpose of the field station is to demonstrate, document, and teach least-toxic pest management, dryland grain and pasture management, and agroecosystem design. This approach includes the production and marketing of organically grown herbs and vegetables, free-range eggs, and naturally colored wool within the context of an integrated, low-input, sustainable farm system adapted to the local ecosystem and local markets.

Ten organizing criteria are being used: (1) adapt to the solar inputs of the site and minimize inputs based on nonrenewable fossil fuels; (2) grow crops that minimize depletion of ground water; (3) harvest and recycle natural sources of nitrogen, phosphorous, and other materials; (4) conserve soil and on-site biotic resources; (5) maximize use of least-toxic pest management; (6) minimize negative impacts on the non-farm ecosystem; (7) provide a balanced diet to farm residents; (8) develop agricultural jobs that are varied, mentally stimulating, and matched with physical capabilities; (9) grow and sell value-added products that serve local, regional, ethnic, and other special markets; (10) encourage community interactions that emphasize cooperation rather than competition.

The field station welcomes interns and volunteers, who exchange their ideas and labor for an opportunity to study in detail BIRC's integrated farm system and least-toxic control techniques. If you are interested, write:

Sky High Ranch
c/o BIRC
P.O. Box 7414
Berkeley CA 94707 USA

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