Sunday, March 27, 2011

English for Agriculture unit 2 grammar


Form of the Verb to be
Look at the following sentences:
  1. Lowland rice is the most important crop.
  2. Irrigation is vital.
  3. There is enough water.
  4. Agriculture is one of the world's most important industries.
Please note that
  • these sentences all use a form of the verb 'to be'.
  • in these cases the form = is
  • however, the verb 'to be' has many forms.

The most important forms of the verb to be:
is (singular) / are (plural)
Future Simple
will be
Future with 'going to'
is going to be / are going to be
Past Simple
was / were
Present Perfect
has been / have been
Auxilliary Constructions
can be / may be /should be / etc.
  • Usually, there is only one present tense used for the verb 'to be'.
  • Present continuous tense is not used in these types of construction.

Look at how we use 'to be' with different time periods:
Lowland rice is the most important crop now.
Future Simple
Lowland rice will be the most important crop in the future.
Future with 'going to'
Lowland rice is going to be the most important crop in the future.
Past Simple
Lowland rice was the most important crop in the past.
Present Perfect
Lowland rice has been the most important crop for a long time.
Auxilliary Constructions
Lowland rice must be the most imortant crop now.
Note that the sentences used the singular form of the verb 'to be'.  The following set of sentences show how plural nouns use a different form of 'to be':
In Europe, potatoes are one of the most important crops now.
Future Simple
In Europe, potatoes will be one of the most important crops in the future.
Future with 'going to'
In Europe, potatoes are going to be one of the most important crops in the future.
Past Simple
In Europe, potatoes were one of the most important crops in the past.
Present Perfect
In Europe, potatoes have been one of the most important crops for many years
Auxilliary Constructions
In Europe, potatoes must be one of the most important crops at the moment.


Watch the following video and write a short summary, do it in the cooment box.

English for Agriculture unit 2 comprehension


Write the answer to the following questions in the comment box.

a) Which is the most important crop in Asia?

b) What do farmers do to form bunds.?

c) What is a bund?

d)  After they build the bunds what do farmers do with them?

e) Briefly explain the activities in growing rice.

f) What is vital for high yields?

g) What else grows naturally in the rice fields?

Watch the following video and write a short summary of the video in the comment box. You may have to post more than one comment. write your name after each comment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

English for Agriculture: unit 2 LOWLAND CULTIVATION reading

Read the following article:

Traditional Lowland Rice Cultivation

Lowland rice is the most important crop in most parts of Asia.

Farmers level the land and build bunds to hold water.

They flood the fields with water and plow to get rid of weeds and to puddle the soil to prevent the water from seeping away.

They transplant rice seedlingsweed the fields and finally, harvest the grain.

Irrigation is vital for high yields.

Most rice is grown in the lowlands because there is enough water, fertile soil and level land.

Plowing, transplanting, weeding and harvesting all take a lot of work.

Soil fertility varies from place to place, but lowland soils tend to be more fertile than in the uplands.

Traditional methods produce relatively low yields of rice.

Farmers also grow crops on the bunds and keep fish in the paddies.

They collect frogsshellfish and snails that grow naturally in the rice fields.

Over the centuries, farmers have selected and planted rice seeds that yield well, resist pests and diseases, and taste good.

Traditional farming uses many different varieties of rice.

Watch the video and read along:

English for Agriculture: unit 2 lowland cultivation vocabulary


century (n) - 100 years
centuries (plural) - hundreds of years

  1. The 19th Century saw a large increase in heavy industries.
  2. Agriculture has been developed and improved over many centuries.
disadvantage (n) - problem (opposite of advantage)
  1. If your children do not learn English while they are young, they will be at a disadvantage in later life.
  2. This technique has both advantages and disadvantages.
fertile (adj.) - able to produce (especially for soil)
fertility (n)

  1. Soils in that region are especially fertile.
  2. We can improve the fertility of soil.
finally (adv.)
final (adj.) - at the end

  1. It took a long time but we finally finished all the work.
  2. It will be some time before we get the final results.
flood (n) - a lot of water where there is usually no water
flood (v)

  1. Most of the region was flooded for several days.
  2. Floods damaged crops in many areas.
frogs (n) - type of animal that lives in water and on land, has very long legs for jumping and no tail
get rid of (v) - take out, remove something we don't want
  1. There are too many papers here. Can you get rid of some of them?
  2. I have had this cold for weeks. I just can't seem to get rid of it.
grow (v) - to become bigger (grow-grew-grown)
growth (n)

  1. My son grew 10 cm. last year.
  2. These plants will not grow in hot climates.
harvest (v) - cutting and gathering of food crops
harvest (n)

  1. The harvest was late this year.
  2. These crops are easy to harvest.
hold (v) - to take and keep something (hold-held-held)
  1. This bottle can hold 1 ½ liters.
  2. How much information can this disk hold?
level (v) - to make something flat
level (n)  - flat area
level (adj.) - having a flat surface

  1. This land will be difficult to level.
  2. The car park has five levels.
  3. To play our game, we will need to find a level piece of ground.
paddy (n) - rice field; unmilled rice
paddies (plural)

plow (v) - to turn over soil with a plow
plow (n) - farm tool used for plowing
note: British English – plough
  1. Most of the fields are plowed in the wet season.
  2. Farmers have used plows for thousand of years.
relatively (adv.) - comparatively, quite
relative (adj.) - compared to

  1. The rooms are relatively large.( same as   The rooms are quite large.)
  2. This is relatively easy. (same as This is not too difficult.)
seep (v) - when water moves slowly through something
  1. If bunds are not built carefully, water may seep out of the rice field.
  2. Our roof was damaged last year. Now when it rains, some water seeps through.
shellfish (n) - animals with a shell that live in water
snails (n)  - small, slow-moving animal with a shell
tend to (adv.) - usually happens
  1. He is not a good worker. He tends to be lazy.
  2. The rainy season tends to last for 4 or 5 months.
traditional (adj.)
tradition (n) - beliefs or systems passed from parents to children
traditionally (adv.)

  1. These are the traditional clothes worn by women in my country.
  2. This is a very old tradition which people have carried out for centuries.
  3. English people traditionally eat meat with two vegetables.
vary (v) - to change, to be different
varied (adj.) - different
variety (n) - different types
variable (adj.) - often changing

  1. Traditions vary from country to country.
  2. We should eat a varied diet.
  3. We need to use a variety of techniques.
  4. Weather conditions in my country are variable.
vital (adj.) - very important
vitally (adv.)


  1. It is vital that you understand this! (same as It is very important that you understand this.)
  2. This is vitally important! (same as This is very, very important.)
weed (n) - plant which we do not want
weed (v) - to take out weeds


  1. These fields need to be weeded at least two times during the growing season.
  2. Some farmers do not believe that weeds are a problem.
yield (v) - produce, give a result
yield (n) - production, the result
  1. These varieties tend to yield well.
  1. Rice yields in many countries are still too low.

bunds (n) - embankments between fields, also called levees and dikes
puddle (v) - to make wet soil very soft before planting crops
transplant (v) - to take plant from onelocation and put it in soil somewhere else
transplanted (adj)
transplantation (n)


  1. The rice in that area was transplanted last week.
seedlings (n) - a young plant grown from seed as distinct from one grown by other methods
varieties (n) - groups of animals or plants within a species or sub-species.   Sometimes also called breed, race or strain.
varietal (adj)
  1. Scientists are always working to develop new varieties of plants and animals.
  2. Varietal improvement is an important area of crop research. 

English for Agriculture:1 comprehension quiz

Answer the following questions in the comment box.

How important is agriculture in your country? Why?

What type of agriculture is most common in your country?

Where are the main agricultural regions?

What do they produce?

What are some of the problems facing your country's agriculture?

Do farmers in your country affect the environment a lot or only a little?

In what ways do they affect the environment?

Is the effect on the environment the same in all regions?

Discuss any regional differences

Write a short description of the main agricultural activities in your country (about 100 words). Try to use at least 10 terms and 3 verb tenses introduced in this lesson

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

English for Agriculture: lesson 2 grammar verb tenses

Complete the reading excercise "farmers and the environment" in the prior entry. (for spanish speaking students, watch the following video)

Verb Tenses
This reading introduces the Present Simple Tense. This is one of the six most common verb tenses in English. Others include the Present Continuous tense, the Future Simple tense, the Future with ‘going to’, the Past Simple tense, and the Present Perfect tense. These tenses describe when something happens. All of the sentences in the reading are in the ‘Present Simple Tense’. They describe things that happen every year, always, every day, usually or sometimes.
The table below describes when to use each tense.

1. Present Simple
People eat rice
every day
2. Present Continuous
People are eating rice
3. Future Simple
People will eat rice
in the future
4. Future with ‘going to’
People are going to eat rice
in the future
5. Past Simple
People ate rice
in the past
6. Present Perfect
People have eaten rice
up to now

Present Simple
Used to describe things which happen every year, always, every day, usually or sometimes
  1. Most people in the Philippines eat rice.
  2. She cooks rice everyday.
Present Continuous
Used to express an action in the present; something that is currently happening.

  1. They are eating rice.
  2. He is cooking rice for dinner
Future Simple
Used to express the future.

  1. They will eat rice for breakfast.
  2. I will cook more rice tonight.
 Future ‘with going to’
Also used to express the future except you use the verb to be + going to. The meaning is the same as the future simple.

  1. They are going to eat rice for dinner.
  2. She is going to cook more rice tomorrow.
Past Simple
Used to express a completed action in the past.

  1. I ate rice for lunch.
  2. They cooked rice.
Present Perfect
Used to show that an action was completed sometime before the present time. Used to indicate that an action started in the past and continues to the present time.

  1. She has eaten rice every day of her life.
  2. They have cooked rice over a fire for years.

Writing Tips:

What are the commonly used tenses in scientific writing? 

When writing a typical paper, you will normally use both the past and present tenses.

When you refer to previously published work you should generally use the present tense. When you refer to your present results you should use the past tense.

When you are writing an abstract, most of it should be in the past tense because you are referring to your own present results. The Materials and Methods and Results sections should also be in the past tense because you are describing what you did and what you found. 

Most of the Introduction and Discussion should be in the present tense because you are usually talking about previously established knowledge.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

English for Agriculture:1 Farmers and the environment

Watch the videoclips and post your opinion in the comment box.on how farmers affect the environment.

Farmers and the Environment

Agriculture is one of the world’s most important industries.
It produces food and provides employment for millions of people.
Farmers work on the land and try to control and adapt the natural ecosystem.
They use fire to clear the land and they irrigate crops.
They plant crops at certain times of the year.
They try to control pests and diseases.
In hunting and gathering societies, people have very little impact on the natural environment.
In urban societies, people have a very large impact.

Agricultural ecosystems affect the environment more than hunting and gathering societies, but not as much as urban societies.
Agro-ecosystems can be complex, with hundreds of crops and animals, or they can havejust one type of plant and animal.
Two of the most important agro-ecosystems in Asia are slash-and-burn cultivation (also called ‘swidden’ or ‘upland agriculture’) and lowland rice cultivation.

Look up and write the definition in the comment box that best applies to the reading.

English for Agriculture introduction Ingles para Agricultura

English for Agriculture

This course focuses on written communication skills. To get the most from this course you should already have an intermediate understanding of English.
English for Agriculture has the following objectives:
  • To extend the agricultural English vocabulary of researchers. 
  • To develop reading, listening and writing skills.  
  • To increase understanding and proper use of grammar for scientific writing.  
  • To create a community of geographically dispersed learners and to facilitate communication and interaction in a structured learning environment.

We hope this course will make a meaningful contribution to the English and technical studies of agricultural scientists and that it will help to bridge the communication gap between native and non-native users of agricultural English in their attempts to work together to develop sustainable agricultural production systems.

Bienvenidos a Inglés para Agricultura, un curso de capacitación dedicado a  mejorar la capacidad de comprender y utilizar el Inglés, términos y las estructuras gramaticales más comunes en los textos agrícolas y trabajos de investigación. Este curso se centra en la capacidad de comunicación escrita. Para aprovechar al máximo  este curso los alumnos deben ya tener una comprensión intermedia de inglés. Inglés para Horticultura tiene los siguientes objetivos:
  •  Ampliar el vocabulario agrícola Inglés de los investigadores.
  • Desarrollar la lectura, audición y habilidades de escritura.
  • Aumentar la comprensión y el uso adecuado de  la escritura científica.
 Esperamos que con este curso se realice una contribución significativa al inglés y estudios técnicos de los científicos agrícolas, y que ayudara a disminuir  la brecha de comunicación en ingles entre  los usuarios agrícolas nativos y no nativos  en sus intentos de colaborar en el desarrollo sustentable de los sistemas de producción agrícola. 

Each lesson consists of an Introduction, Vocabulary
section, Reading (including audio and video clips), Grammar section, 
Discussion, and an Assignment. The Reading and Grammar sections also include practice exercises. The lessons get more complex as you progress through the course. It is suggested that you proceed through the course starting with lesson 1.

**My acknowledgement to PHIL GIBSON who put together the written part of the course of which I adapted for this blog.