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New York Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Lesson Plans (16)

A Tale of Two Burgers: Beef and Plant-based Protein

Students compare the components of beef and plant-based burgers by determining the production and processing methods of each product; evaluate the ingredients and nutritional differences between beef and plant-based products; and discuss different points of view in the agricultural industry concerning plant-based proteins and traditional beef. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12

Beef: Making the Grade

Students will evaluate the USDA grading system for whole cuts of beef and discuss consumer preferences and nutritional differences between grain-finished and grass-finished beef. Students will also distinguish various labels on beef products and discuss reasons for the government’s involvement in agricultural production, processing and distribution of food. Grades 9-12


Students will view the film Farmland, a documentary spotlighting six farmers and ranchers in the United States. The film portrays the business and lifestyle of a variety of farmers and ranchers. Perspectives on topics such as bioengineered (GMO) crops, animal welfare, organic and conventional farming practices, farm size, farming stereotypes, and more are presented. Grades 9-12

Fertilizers and the Environment (Grades 9-12)

Students will recognize that fertile soil is a limited resource, describe the role fertilizer plays in increasing food productivity, distinguish between organic and commercial fertilizers, describe how excess nutrients are harmful to the environment, and identify different sources of nutrient pollution. Grades 9-12

Food Evolution

Students will view the documentary Food Evolution to evaluate the polarized debate surrounding bioengineering (GMOs). In this film director, Scott Hamilton Kennedy travels from Hawaiian papaya groves to Ugandan banana farms, to cornfields in Iowa to document how agricultural technology can be used in such varied crop settings. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12

Food: Going the Distance

Students calculate the miles common food items travel from the farm to their plates and discuss the environmental, social, and economic pros and cons of eating local vs relying on a global marketplace for our food. Grades 9-12

Journey 2050 Lesson 1: Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture (Grades 9-12)

Students will explore the question, “How will we sustainably feed nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050?” as they discover what sustainable agriculture is and how it is critical to securing a stable food supply and future for a growing population. Grades 9-12

Journey 2050 Lesson 2: Plant Health (Grades 9-12)

Students will identify nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus as primary soil nutrients necessary in the production of abundant and healthy foods, describe various methods of replenishing soil nutrients that have been depleted by plant growth, discover how overall plant health impacts a plant’s ability to resist disease and pests and describe what best management practices are in agriculture to improve overall sustainability. Grades 9-12

Journey 2050 Lesson 3: Water (Grades 9-12)

Students will discuss the limited amount of fresh water on earth, identify how best management practices can reduce water consumption, discuss the need for water conservation and protection, and compare and contrast methods of irrigation for water conservation. Grades 9-12

Journey 2050 Lesson 5: Land Use (Grades 9-12)

Students will recognize that arable land (ideal land for growing crops) is a limited resource, identify best management practices that can be applied to every stakeholder’s land-use decisions; and analyze and discuss the impacts of food waste on our environment. Grades 9-12

Journey 2050 Lesson 7: Technology and Innovations (Grades 9-12)

Students will explore new technologies that will impact the future of farming, understand the role of developing countries in food security, and explain how consumers influence the production of food. Grades 9-12

Pig Power: Creating Biogas and Renewable Energy

After exploring the science of energy and energy conversion, students will evaluate some environmental impacts of hog farming and explore technologies that minimize negative human impact by creating biogas energy from animal waste. Grades 9-12

The Big Deal About Big Ag

Discover how technological advances and economic forces influence the size of farms in the United States. Evaluate the pros and cons of large-scale agriculture for the production of our food, fuel and fiber and identify the similarities and differences in commercial vs subsistence farming.

The Green Revolution

Evaluate the agricultural advances of the Green Revolution, discover the contributions of Norman Borlaug, and discuss the impacts of this era from an economic, social, political, and environmental perspective. Grades 9-12

The Water Footprint of Food

Explore concepts of sustainability by evaluating the water footprint (WF) of food. Students are introduced to irrigation practices throughout the world, consumptive and non-consumptive water use, and investigate the water requirements for various food crops. Grades 9-12

Where Does it Grow? The Science of Climate and Food

Students will discover the connection between climate and our food supply as they answer the question, "Where does it grow?" They will also explore the consequences of climate change on our food supply and discover how advances in science can help farmers adapt to climate change. Grades 9-12

Companion Resources (21)


Producing Fish (The Technology of Farming)
What is commercial fishing? What are fish farms? How do fish get from the sea to the supermarket? This book looks at the history of fishing, discusses commercial fishing and aquaculture, and explores how technology has impacted the fishing industry.


Food and Farm Facts Booklet
The 2021 Food and Farm Facts series features interesting and educational facts about food in America - how and where it is grown, and who produces it. Color photographs and USA Today-style graphics illustrate the many fascinating facets of today’s agriculture. The series includes a 32-page book with map insert.


Apple Land Use Model
New version! Imagine the Earth as an apple. Use this large, 16.5"x17.5" apple model to demonstrate the distribution of the Earth's water and land resources. The model is two layers of durable styrene board with a handle on the back of the bottom layer. The top layer is cut into sections and held to the bottom layer by magnets. Remove the top layer of the apple to reveal the image underneath. Order this model online at


9 Billion Mouths to Feed: Leading the Way to Abundance and Sustainability
30-minute video segment giving an overview of how programs at the University of California are striving to meet the challenge of feeding an ever-growing global population with sustainable practices.
Climate Change: The Water Paradigm
This video explores why maintaining a healthy water cycle may be much more important for the health of the climate than people realize. In case you are wondering, it's not suggesting that the greenhouse effect due to CO2 or methane is insignificant. But prompts a consideration that the importance of the water cycle has been grossly under-emphasized, and should occupy a more central position in environmental discourse.
Dairy in the Mountain West: Our Family of Farmers
This video highlights dairy farmers and their families. See many different dairy farms, learn about how they care for animals, dairy farmer's priorities in animal welfare, and how dairy farms utilize their resources to increase their sustainability and decrease their environmental footprint.
Deep Sea Fish Farming in Geodesic Domes
Learn how fish farming has changed through the years as overfishing and changing water temperatures have impacted the populations of ocean fish. Discover the differences between open ocean aquaculture and inland aquaculture where fish are farmed for food. 
Food Machine
This video is the first episode of the PBS series, "America Revealed." Show host Yul Kwon explores how the "Food Machine" (agriculture) feeds nearly 300 million Americans every day. The video highlights farm practices, machines which make the production of our food easier and more productive, and the requirements of nature and our natural resources in order to produce our food. This secondary resource addresses topics such as sustainability, GMOs, pests and pesticides, global food trade, and food marketing.
How Drones are Helping to Plant Trees - A Cleaner Future
See how drones can plant tree seeds to help reforestation be more affordable and efficient with the goal of lowering overall carbon emissions. 
Phosphate Mining Video
Phosphate is the "P" in N-P-K; one of three macronutrients that plants need to thrive. The Phosphate Mining video shows students the process of mining phosphate in the Southeastern region of the U.S. Take a close up look at where this element is found in the earth, how it is obtained, and how it is used as fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil to grow our food supply. 
Potash Mining Video
Potassium is the "K" in N-P-K; one of three macronutrients that plants need to thrive. The Potash Mining video shows students the process of mining potassium (potash). Take a close up look at where this element is found in the earth, how it it was formed anciently, and how it is mined and then used as fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil to grow our food supply.
The Man Who Tried to Feed the World
The Man Who Tried to Feed the World recounts the story of the man who would not only solve India’s famine problem, but would go on to lead a “Green Revolution” of worldwide agriculture programs, saving countless lives. He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work but spent the rest of his life watching his methods and achievements come under increasing fire. This documentary provides context for discussions about the Green Revolution, plant breeding methods, accomplishments in selective breeding, conserving natural resources, responding to political pressures, protecting the environment, and providing food to a growing population.
Virtual Egg Farm Field Trips
Take a virtual tour of three different egg farms. Learn why each farmer chose their career, how their farm manages their ecological footprint and how they conserve natural resources all while raising the laying hens that produce eggs for our food supply.
What Happens When Farming Goes High-Tech?
Soil maps, GPS guidance, and even drones are becoming critical tools for modern farmers. These methods of precision agriculture can help increase yields and save farmers a surprising sum along the way.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture is an effective way to restore biodiversity and stabilize the climate, but what exactly is it? This video explores three different regenerative practices that have great potential both in food production and in healing the land.
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
A video series highlighting common practices farmers and ranchers use to improve profitability, qualify of life, and environmental stewardship.

Teacher Reference

Feeding the World and Protecting the Environment
This supplemental resource was developed to provide content and labs about fertilizer’s role in federal regulations, such as the Clean Water Act. Additionally the supplement provides an overview of sustainability and 4R nutrient stewardship providing a lot of information as well as places for students to keep notes. This free, downloadable PDF can be requested from the Nutrients for Life Foundation.
Mobile System Removes Phosphorus From Manure
Read about the research for a mobile system designed to remove phosphorus from cow manure. This technology may offer dairy farmers greater flexibility in where, when, and how they use the nutrient to fertilize crops.
Precision Agriculture Technologies and Factors Affecting Their Adoption
Precision agriculture technologies are playing an increasing role in farm production. Examples include GPS tractor guidance systems and GPS soil and yield mapping for variable-rate applications. This USDA report discusses adoption rates for using these technologies and factors impacting adoption of use. 
Smarter Food: Does Big Farming Mean Bad Farming?
A common misconception in agriculture is that large scale farming is "bad." This article discusses farm size, conventional vs organic food production, sustainability, and various cultivation practices designed to protect and preserve the environment.
Using Technology to Save Water
Use this resource when discussing the future use and demand of fresh water. Sixty percent of the world's fresh water is used by farmers which has a large impact upon its availability in meeting the challenge of producing food for a growing population. This article explains how scientists in the southwest are developing tools for saving water with the help of satellites, computer models, remote sensors, and other types of technologies.