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  Glossary

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A

Abiotic - Nonliving, eg. rocks or minerals.

Acid - A substance that releases hydrogen ions (protons) in water. Acids have a sour taste and turn blue litmus paper red. Compare base.

Acid deposition - A type of air pollution that includes acid which falls from the atmosphere to the Earth as precipitation, or as dry acidic particles. See acid precipitation.

Acid precipitation - Precipitation that is acidic as a result of both sulfur and nitrogen oxides forming acids when they react with water in the Earthĺs atmosphere; partially due to the combustion of coal; includes acid rain, acid snow, and acid fog.

└-horizon - The topsoil; located just beneath the O-horizon of the soil. The A-horizon is rich in various kinds of decomposing organic matter.

Agricultural zones- Geographic areas in which ecological conditions (soil, water, climate) dictate the agricultural practices that are used.

Agroecology - The application of ecological concepts and principles to the study, design and management of agricultural systems. By integrating cultural and environmental factors into its examination of food production systems, agroecology seeks to evaluate the full effect of system inputs and outputs and to use this knowledge to improve these systems, taking into account the needs of both the ecosystem as a whole and the people within it.

Agroecosystem - A model for the functioning of an agricultural system with all its inputs and outputs.

Allelopathic compounds - Various metabolic substances, such as terpenes, camphor and cineole, released by plants that biochemically inhibit other plants or microorganisms.

Allelopathic effects - The results of the biochemical suppression of the growth of one plant species by another, thus reducing competition for resources. For example, in a field succession, the pioneer weed stage is replaced by annual grasses because the weeds produce substances that inhibit the growth of other weeds.

Alternative agriculture - Agricultural methods that rely on beneficial biological processes and environmentally friendly chemicals rather than conventional agricultural techniques. Also called sustainable or low-input agriculture.

Alluvial soils - Agricultural methods that rely on beneficial biological processes and environmentally friendly chemicals rather than conventional agricultural techniques. Also called sustainable or low-input agriculture

Annual - A plant that completes its life cycle (from seed to seed production and death) within a year or single season (for example, cultivated rice).

Anthropogenic - Man made. Usually used in the context of emissions that are produced as the result of human activities.

Apiculture - An agroforestry system that involves the selection of trees and their management for bee-keeping.

└quifer - Porous layers of underground rock in which groundwater is stored.

└quifer depletion - The removal by humans of more groundwater than can be recharged by precipitation, or melting snow.

Arable soils - Soils that are fit for plowing or tillage to produce crops.

Arid land - Soils that are fit for plowing or tillage to produce crops.

Assimilation - The conversion of inorganic nitrogen (nitrate, NO3 -, or ammonia, NH3 ) to the organic molecules of living things; part of the nitrogen cycle.