Lesson Rationale

Science   &   Society

A Lesson by Angie Van Erp

One of the important themes in science and social studies is that science change with respect to society and society changes with respect to science.  Agriculture is just one of the many things that is part of this science/society interactions that cycle continuously.  One such example is the fact that as a result in advances in science yields and production have become greater, and as a result less farmers are needed to produce the same amount of food and the number of people associated with agriculture has decreased overall.  On the other hand, as the population continues to increase and the number of people producing their own food decreases, the demand for food increases.

This website provides you with a means of entering such a complex system of interactions between science and society.  The site will provide you with color-coded maps and data tables that represent recent agricultural and societal changes in the state of Michigan.  Your task is to:


My Observation:

In looking through the website I notice that the number of acres that plant at least 500 acres of barley drops after 1995 and in addition, the production of barley seems to be very minimal compared to the production of other crops throughout MI.


My Questions/factors investigated:

·        Why did the number of counties growing at least 500 acres of barley drop after 1995?

o       Did a disease develop in the soil throughout MI?

o       Did a natural pest to barley invade the state?

o       Did a natural disaster occur or whether patterns change?

o       Did the farm price markets change?

·        Why is there so little barley produced in the state of MI?

o       What is barley used for?

o       What is the level of demand for barley?

o       Who influences the demand for barley?

·        Any other questions or factors I encounter during my research and investigation.


Enter the Website:

Percentage Change 1982-1992 of MI Farm Statistics:
    *The Percentage in the Number of Farms in Michigan by County from 1982-1992
    *The Avg. Percent Change in the Number of Acres of a Farm by County in Michigan 1982-1992
    *The Percent Change in the Number of Acres Designated as Farmland by MI County 1982-92
    *The Percent Change in the Avg. Age of the Michigan Farmer by County 1982-1992

Field Crop Production of Michigan Counties 1995-1999

Michigan County Field Crop Statistics with Attached Database

All data has been published by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and is available on the web at
http://www.mda.state.mi.us/mass/index.html .  Documents used in the production of this lesson were:
*Michigan Agriculture Statistics Bulletins dated years 95-96, 96-97, 97-98, & 98-99
*Michigan County Agricultural Statistics 1996