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Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of
sedentary Increases in sedentary behaviors such as watching television are characteristic of a sedentary lifestyle A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle involving little or no physical activity. A person living a sedentary lifestyle is often sitti ...
human civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government, and symbolic systems of communication (such as writing). Civilizations are intimately associat ...
, whereby farming of
domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that seco ...
species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The
history of agriculture The history of agriculture records the domestication of plants and animals and the development and dissemination of techniques for raising them productively. Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a divers ...
began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep, and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world.
Industrial agriculture Intensive agriculture, also known as intensive farming (as opposed to extensive farming) and industrial agriculture, is a type of agriculture, both of crop plants and of animals, with higher levels of input and output per unit of agricultural land ...
based on large-scale
monoculture Monoculture is the agricultural practice of growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time. Polyculture, where more than one crop species is grown in the same space at the same time, ...
in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on
subsistence agriculture Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow food crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families on smallholdings. Subsistence agriculturalists target farm output for survival and for mostly local requirements, with little or no su ...
. Modern
agronomy Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants in agriculture for food, fuel, fiber, recreation, and land restoration. Agronomy has come to encompass work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and ...
,
plant breeding Plant breeding is the science of changing the traits of plants in order to produce desired characteristics. It has been used to improve the quality of nutrition in products for humans and animals. The goals of plant breeding are to produce crop v ...
,
agrochemical An agrochemical or agrichemical, a contraction of ''agricultural chemical'', is a chemical product used in agriculture. In most cases, ''agrichemical'' refers to pesticides including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and nematicides. It may als ...
s such as
pesticide Pesticides are substances that are meant to control pests. The term pesticide includes all of the following: herbicide, insecticides (which may include insect growth regulators, termiticides, etc.) nematicide, molluscicide, piscicide, avicide, ...
s and
fertilizer A fertilizer (American English) or fertiliser (British English; see spelling differences) is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply plant nutrients. Fertilizers may be distinct from li ...
s, and technological developments have sharply increased
crop A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crops may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture or aquacul ...
yields, while causing widespread ecological and environmental damage.
Selective breeding This Chihuahua mix and Great Dane shows the wide range of dog breed sizes created using selective breeding. Selective breeding (also called artificial selection) is the process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to selectiv ...
and modern practices in
animal husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock. Husbandry has a long history, start ...
have similarly increased the output of meat, but have raised concerns about
animal welfare Animal welfare is the well-being of non-human animals. Formal standards of animal welfare vary between contexts, but are debated mostly by animal welfare groups, legislators, and academics. Animal welfare science uses measures such as longevity, ...
and environmental damage. Environmental issues include contributions to
global warming Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century hu ...

global warming
, depletion of
aquifer An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt). Groundwater can be extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization ...
s,
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical fores ...
,
antibiotic resistance Antimicrobial resistance (AMR or AR) occurs when microbes evolve mechanisms that protect them from the effects of antimicrobials. The term antibiotic resistance (AR or ABR) is a subset of AMR, as it applies to bacteria that become resistant to ant ...

antibiotic resistance
, and
growth hormone Growth hormone (GH) or somatotropin, also known as human growth hormones (hGH or HGH) in its human form, is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration in humans and other animals. It is thus important in h ...
s in
industrial meat production The meat industry are the people and companies engaged in modern industrialized livestock agriculture for the production, packing, preservation and marketing of meat (in contrast to dairy products, wool, etc.). In economics, the meat industry is a ...
. Agriculture is also very sensitive to
environmental degradationEighty-plus years after the abandonment of Wallaroo Mines (Kadina, South Australia), mosses">Kadina, South Australia">Wallaroo Mines (Kadina, South Australia), mosses remain the only vegetation at some spots of the site's grounds. Environmen ...
, such as
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction of species worldwide, as well as the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat, resulting in a loss of biological diversity. The latter phenomenon can be temporary or permanent, depending on w ...
,
desertification Desertification is when the land is starting to degrade in drylands and it loses the biological productivity that it once had to certain accidents that happen. The land that gets affected by desertification is caused by a combination of many thi ...
,
soil degradationSoil retrogression and degradation are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of a stable soil. Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession reverts the land to i ...
and
global warming Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century hu ...
, which cause decrease in crop yield.
Genetically modified organism A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. The exact definition of a genetically modified organism and what constitutes genetic engineering varies, with t ...
s are widely used, although some are banned in certain countries. The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers,
fuel A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as heat energy or to be used for work. The concept was originally applied solely to those materials capable of releasing chemical energy but has ...
s and
raw material A raw material, also known as a feedstock, unprocessed material, or primary commodity, is a basic material that is used to produce goods, finished products, energy, or intermediate materials that are feedstock for future finished products. As feed ...
s (such as
rubber Rubber is also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, ''caucho'' or ''caoutchouc'', as initially produced, consists of polymers of the organic compound isoprene, with minor impurities of other organic compounds, plus water. Thailand a ...
). Food classes include cereals (
grains A grain is a small, hard, dry seed, with or without an attached hull or fruit layer, harvested for human or animal consumption. A grain crop is a grain-producing plant. The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals and legumes. After b ...
),
vegetable Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is applied to plants collectively to refer to all edible plant matter, including the flowers, fruits, stems, l ...
s, fruits,
oils An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is both hydrophobic (does not mix with water, literally "water fearing") and lipophilic (mixes with other oils, literally "fat loving"). Oils have a ...
, meat, milk,
fungi A fungus (plural: fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, which is separa ...
and
eggs An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo begins to develop. Egg or eggs may also refer to: Food * Egg as food Places * Egg, Austria * Egg, Switzerland People * Augustus Egg (1816–1863), English artist * Mr Egg (born 1959), Scottish musi ...
. Over one-third of the world's workers are employed in agriculture, second only to the
service sector The tertiary sector of the economy, generally known as the service sector, is the third of the three economic sectors of the three-sector theory. The others are the secondary sector (approximately the same as manufacturing), and the primary secto ...
, although in recent decades, the global trend of a decreasing number of agricultural workers continues, especially in developing countries where
smallholding A smallholding or smallholder is a small farm operating under a small-scale agriculture model. Definitions vary widely for what constitutes a smallholder or small-scale farm, including factors such as size, food production technique or technology, ...
is being overtaken by industrial agriculture and mechanization. Creating global
sustainable food systemA sustainable food system is a type of food system that provides healthy food to people and creates sustainable environmental, economic and social systems that surround food. Sustainable food systems start with the development of sustainable agricul ...
s which provides
food security Food security is a measure of the availability of food and individuals' ability to access it. According the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as the means that all people, at all times, have physical, so ...
with
sustainable agriculture Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways meeting society's present food and textile needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their needs. It can be based on an understanding of ecosystem serv ...
practices is an international policy priority articulated in
Sustainable Development Goal 2: "Zero hunger".
Sustainable Development Goal 2:


Etymology and scope

The word ''agriculture'' is a late
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. English language underwent distinct variations and developments following the Old English period. Scholarly ...
adaptation of Latin ''agricultūra'', from ''ager'', "field", and ''cultūra'', "
cultivation Cultivation may refer to: * The state of having or expressing a good education (bildung), refinement, culture, or high culture * Gardening * Agriculture, the cultivation and breeding of animals, plants and fungi * Fungiculture, the process of produ ...
" or "growing". While agriculture usually refers to human activities, certain species of
ant Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants appear in the fossil record across the globe in considerable diversity during the latest Early Cretaceous and e ...
,
termite Termites are eusocial insects that are classified at the taxonomic rank of infraorder Isoptera, or as epifamily Termitoidae within the order Blattodea (along with cockroaches). Termites were once classified in a separate order from cockroaches, ...
and
beetle Beetles are a group of insects that form the order Coleoptera (), in the superorder Endopterygota. Their front pair of wings are hardened into wing-cases, elytra, distinguishing them from most other insects. The Coleoptera, with about 400,000 ...
have been cultivating crops for up to 60 million years. Agriculture is defined with varying scopes, in its broadest sense using natural resources to "produce commodities which maintain life, including food, fiber, forest products, horticultural crops, and their related services". Thus defined, it includes
arable farming Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be ploughed") is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops.''Oxford English Dictionary'', "arable, ''adj''. and ''n.''" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013. Alternatively, for the p ...
,
horticulture Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, as well as ornamental trees and lawns. ...
,
animal husbandry Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock. Husbandry has a long history, start ...
and
forestry Forestry is the science and craft of creating, managing, playing, using, conserving and repairing forests, woodlands, and associated resources for human and environmental benefits. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands. The s ...
, but horticulture and forestry are in practice often excluded.


History


Origins

Han dynasty tomb brick showing workers rice husking The development of agriculture enabled the human population to grow many times larger than could be sustained by
hunting and gathering A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals). Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on dome ...
. Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a diverse range of
taxa In biology, a taxon (back-formation from ''taxonomy''; plural taxa) is a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms seen by taxonomists to form a unit. Although neither is required, a taxon is usually known by a particular name ...
, in at least 11 separate centres of origin. Wild grains were collected and eaten from at least 105,000 years ago. From around 11,500 years ago, the eight
Neolithic founder crops The founder crops (or primary domesticates) are the eight plant species that were domesticated by early Neolithic farming communities in southwest Asia, which formed the basis of systematic agriculture in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Persia ...
,
emmer Emmer wheat or hulled wheat is a type of awned wheat. Emmer is a tetraploid (2''n'' = 4''x'' = 28 chromosomes). The domesticated types are ''Triticum turgidum'' subsp. ''dicoccum'' and ''Triticum turgidum ''conv.'' durum''. The wild plant is ca ...
and
einkorn wheat Einkorn wheat (from German ''Einkorn'', literally "single grain") can refer either to the wild species of wheat, ''Triticum boeoticum'', or to the domesticated form, ''Triticum monococcum''. The wild and domesticated forms are either considered s ...
, hulled
barley Barley (''Hordeum vulgare''), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It was one of the first cultivated grains, particularly in Eurasia as early as 10,000 years ago. Barley has been used as ani ...

barley
,
pea The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit ''Pisum sativum''. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. Botanically, pea pods are fruit, since they contain seeds and develop from the ...
s,
lentil The lentil (''Lens culinaris'' or ''Lens esculenta'') is an edible legume. It is an annual plant known for its lens-shaped seeds. It is about tall, and the seeds grow in pods, usually with two seeds in each. As a food crop, the majority of wor ...
s,
bitter vetchBitter vetch is a common name for several plants and may refer to: * ''Vicia ervilia'', an ancient grain legume crop of the Mediterranean region * ''Lathyrus linifolius'', a species of pea, commonly called bitter vetch or heath pea * The Bittervetch ...
,
chick pea The chickpea or chick pea (''Cicer arietinum'') is an annual legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Its different types are variously known as gram" or Bengal gram, garbanzo or garbanzo bean, or Egyptian pea. Chickpea seeds are high ...
s and
flax Flax, also known as common flax or linseed, is a flowering plant, ''Linum usitatissimum'', in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in regions of the world with temperate climate. Textiles made from flax are known in West ...
were cultivated in the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria, which included present-day ...

Levant
. Rice was domesticated in China between 11,500 and 6,200 BC with the earliest known cultivation from 5,700 BC, followed by mung, soy and
azuki The adzuki bean (name from ; ''Vigna angularis''; also azuki bean, aduki bean, red bean, or red mung bean), is an annual vine widely cultivated throughout East Asia for its small (approximately long) bean. The cultivars most familiar in East Asi ...
beans. Sheep were domesticated in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن '; grc, Μεσοποταμία; Classical Syriac: ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ Ārām''-Nahrīn'' or ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ ''Bēṯ Nahrīn'') is a historical region of Western Asia situated withi ...
between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated from the wild
aurochs The aurochs ( or ; pl. aurochs, or rarely aurochsen, aurochses) (''Bos primigenius''), also known as urus or ure, is an extinct species of large wild cattle that inhabited Asia, Europe, and North Africa. It is the ancestor of domestic cattle. T ...
in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan some 10,500 years ago. Pig production emerged in Eurasia, including Europe, East Asia and Southwest Asia, where
wild boar The wild boar (''Sus scrofa''), also known as the "wild swine", "common wild pig", or simply "wild pig", is a suid native to much of Eurasia and North Africa, and has been introduced to the Americas and Oceania. The species is now one of the ...
were first domesticated about 10,500 years ago. In the
Andes The Andes, Andes Mountains or Andean Mountains ( es, Cordillera de los Andes) are the longest continental mountain range in the world, forming a continuous highland along the western edge of South America. The range is long, wide (widest between ...
of South America, the potato was domesticated between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago, along with beans,
coca Coca is any of the four cultivated plants in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. Coca is known for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine. The plant is grown as a cash crop in Argentine Northwest, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador ...
,
llama The llama (; ) (''Lama glama'') is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era. Llamas are very social animals and live with others as a herd. Their wool is ver ...
s,
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South American camelid mammal. It is similar to, and often confused with, the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. The two animals are closely related and can success ...

alpaca
s, and
guinea pig The guinea pig or domestic guinea pig (''Cavia porcellus''), also known as the cavy or domestic cavy (), is a species of rodent belonging to the genus ''Cavia'' in the family Caviidae. Breeders tend to use the word ''cavy'' to describe the anim ...
s.
Sugarcane Sugarcane or sugar cane refers to several species and hybrids of tall perennial grass in the genus ''Saccharum'', tribe Andropogoneae, that are used for sugar production. The plants are 2-6 m (6-20 ft) tall with stout, jointed, fibrous stalks ...
and some
root vegetables Root vegetables are underground plant parts eaten by humans as food. Although botany distinguishes true roots (such as taproots and tuberous roots) from non-roots (such as bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and tubers, although some contain both hypocotyl a ...
were domesticated in
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the world's second-largest island, and with an area of , the largest island in the Southern Hemisphere. Located in Melanesia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, it is separate ...

New Guinea
around 9,000 years ago.
Sorghum ''Sorghum'' is a genus of about 25 species of flowering plants in the grass family Poaceae. Some of these species have grown as cereals for human consumption and some in pastures for animals. One species, ''Sorghum bicolor'', was originally dome ...

Sorghum
was domesticated in the
Sahel The Sahel (; ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic realm of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the south-central latitude ...
region of Africa by 7,000 years ago. Cotton was domesticated in
Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = National seal , national_motto ...
by 5,600 years ago, and was independently domesticated in Eurasia. In Mesoamerica, wild
teosinte ''Zea'' is a genus of flowering plants in the grass family. The best-known species is ''Z. mays'' (variously called maize, corn, or Indian corn), one of the most important crops for human societies throughout much of the world. Several wild speci ...
was bred into maize by 6,000 years ago. Scholars have offered multiple hypotheses to explain the historical origins of agriculture. Studies of the transition from
hunter-gatherer A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals). Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on dome ...
to agricultural societies indicate an initial period of intensification and increasing
sedentism In cultural anthropology, sedentism (sometimes called sedentariness; compare sedentarism) is the practice of living in one place for a long time. , the majority of people belong to sedentary cultures. In evolutionary anthropology and archaeology, ...
; examples are the
Natufian culture The Natufian culture () is a Late Epipaleolithic archaeological culture of the Levant, dating to around 15,000 to 11,500 years ago. The culture was unusual in that it supported a sedentary or semi-sedentary population even before the introduction ...
in the
Levant The Levant () is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria, which included present-day ...

Levant
, and the Early Chinese Neolithic in China. Then, wild stands that had previously been harvested started to be planted, and gradually came to be domesticated.


Civilizations

In Eurasia, the
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian '; Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary''). Li ...
ians started to live in villages from about 8,000 BC, relying on the
Tigris The Tigris, () is the eastern of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of the Armenian Highlands through the Syrian and Arabian Deserts, and empties into the Persian ...

Tigris
and
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia (the "Land Between the Rivers"). Originating in the Armenian Highlan ...
rivers and a canal system for irrigation. Ploughs appear in
pictograph A pictogram, also called a pictogramme, pictograph, or simply picto, and in computer usage an icon, is a graphic symbol that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictographs are often used in writing and gra ...
s around 3,000 BC; seed-ploughs around 2,300 BC. Farmers grew wheat, barley, vegetables such as lentils and onions, and fruits including dates, grapes, and figs.
Ancient Egyptian agriculture The civilization of ancient Egypt was indebted to the Nile River and its dependable seasonal flooding. The river's predictability and fertile soil allowed the Egyptians to build an empire on the basis of great agricultural wealth. Egyptians are cre ...
relied on the
Nile River The Nile ( ar, النيل, an-Nīl, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin: Áman Dawū) is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa. The longest river in Africa, it has historically been considered the longest river in the world, though this ...
and its seasonal flooding. Farming started in the predynastic period at the end of the
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age, is a period in human prehistory distinguished by the original development of stone tools that covers  99% of the period of human technological prehistory. It ...
, after 10,000 BC. Staple food crops were grains such as wheat and barley, alongside industrial crops such as
flax Flax, also known as common flax or linseed, is a flowering plant, ''Linum usitatissimum'', in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in regions of the world with temperate climate. Textiles made from flax are known in West ...
and
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a doc ...

papyrus
. In
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the second-most populous country, the seventh-largest country by land area, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Oce ...
, wheat, barley and
jujube ''Ziziphus jujuba'', commonly called jujube (; sometimes jujuba), red date, Chinese date, Chinese jujube is a species in the genus of ''Ziziphus'' (some of whose other species are also sometimes referred to as ''jujube''), in the buckthorn ...
were domesticated by 9,000 BC, soon followed by sheep and goats. Cattle, sheep and goats were domesticated in
Mehrgarh , coordinates=, native_name_lang=ur, alternate_name=Mehrgahr, Merhgarh, Merhgahr, location=Dhadar, Balochistan, Pakistan, height=, region=South Asia, part_of=, length=, width=, area=, notes=Succeeded by: Indus Valley Civilization, image=Mehrgarh ruins.jpg, map_ ...
culture by 8,000–6,000 BC.Baber, Zaheer (1996). ''The Science of Empire: Scientific Knowledge, Civilization, and Colonial Rule in India''. State University of New York Press. 19. .Harris, David R. and Gosden, C. (1996). ''The Origins and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia: Crops, Fields, Flocks And Herds''. Routledge. p. 385. .Possehl, Gregory L. (1996). ''Mehrgarh'' in ''Oxford Companion to Archaeology'', Ed. Brian Fagan. Oxford University Press. Cotton was cultivated by the 5th–4th millennium BC. Archeological evidence indicates an animal-drawn
plough A plough or plow (US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are drawn by tractors. A plough may have a wooden, iron or st ...

plough
from 2,500 BC in the
Indus Valley Civilisation oxen for pulling a cart and the presence of the chicken, a domesticated jungle fowl. The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, ...
. In
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million m ...
, from the 5th century BC there was a nationwide
granary A granary is a storehouse or room in a barn for threshed grain or animal feed. Ancient or primitive granaries are most often made out of pottery. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other anima ...
system and widespread
silk farming 200px, Silkworm and cocoon Sericulture, or silk farming, is the cultivation of silkworms to produce silk. Although there are several commercial species of silkworms, ''Bombyx mori'' (the caterpillar of the domestic silkmoth) is the most widely use ...
. Water-powered grain mills were in use by the 1st century BC, followed by irrigation. By the late 2nd century,
heavy plough A plough or plow (US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are drawn by tractors. A plough may have a wooden, iron or st ...
s had been developed with iron ploughshares and
mouldboard A plough or plow (US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are drawn by tractors. A plough may have a wooden, iron or st ...
s.Greenberger, Robert (2006) ''The Technology of Ancient China'', Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 11–12. These spread westwards across Eurasia. Asian rice was domesticated 8,200–13,500 years ago – depending on the
molecular clock The molecular clock is a figurative term for a technique that uses the mutation rate of biomolecules to deduce the time in prehistory when two or more life forms diverged. The biomolecular data used for such calculations are usually nucleotide s ...
estimate that is used – on the Pearl River in southern China with a single genetic origin from the wild rice ''
Oryza rufipogon ''Oryza rufipogon'', known as brownbeard rice, wild rice, and red rice, is a member of the genus ''Oryza''. It is native to East, South and Southeast Asia. It has a close evolutionary relation to ''Oryza sativa'', the plant grown as a major rice ...
''. In
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed by Thessaloniki. Situated on th ...
and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The territo ...
, the major cereals were wheat, emmer, and barley, alongside vegetables including peas, beans, and olives. Sheep and goats were kept mainly for dairy products.Koester, Helmut (1995), ''History, Culture, and Religion of the Hellenistic Age'', 2nd edition, Walter de Gruyter, pp. 76–77. White, K. D. (1970), ''Roman Farming''. Cornell University Press. In the Americas, crops domesticated in Mesoamerica (apart from
teosinte ''Zea'' is a genus of flowering plants in the grass family. The best-known species is ''Z. mays'' (variously called maize, corn, or Indian corn), one of the most important crops for human societies throughout much of the world. Several wild speci ...
) include squash, beans, and cocoa. Cocoa was being domesticated by the Mayo Chinchipe of the upper Amazon around 3,000 BC. The
turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the Black Sea to the north; Georgia to the northeast; Arme ...
was probably domesticated in Mexico or the American Southwest. The
Aztec The Aztecs () were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl la ...

Aztec
s developed irrigation systems, formed terraced hillsides, fertilized their soil, and developed
chinampa ''Chinampa'' ( nah, chināmitl ) is a technique used in Mesoamerican agriculture which relied on small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds in the Valley of Mexico. They are built up on wetlands of a lak ...

chinampa
s or artificial islands. The
Mayas The Maya peoples () are an ethnolinguistic group of indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. The ancient Maya civilization was formed by members of this group, and today's Maya are generally descended from people who lived within that historical civil ...
used extensive canal and raised field systems to farm swampland from 400 BC.
Coca Coca is any of the four cultivated plants in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. Coca is known for its psychoactive alkaloid, cocaine. The plant is grown as a cash crop in Argentine Northwest, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador ...
was domesticated in the Andes, as were the peanut, tomato, tobacco, and
pineapple The pineapple (''Ananas comosus'') is a tropical plant with an edible fruit and the most economically significant plant in the family Bromeliaceae. The pineapple is indigenous to South America, where it has been cultivated for many centuries. T ...
. Cotton was domesticated in
Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = National seal , national_motto ...
by 3,600 BC. Animals including
llama The llama (; ) (''Lama glama'') is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era. Llamas are very social animals and live with others as a herd. Their wool is ver ...
s,
alpaca The alpaca (''Vicugna pacos'') is a species of South American camelid mammal. It is similar to, and often confused with, the llama. However, alpacas are often noticeably smaller than llamas. The two animals are closely related and can success ...

alpaca
s, and
guinea pig The guinea pig or domestic guinea pig (''Cavia porcellus''), also known as the cavy or domestic cavy (), is a species of rodent belonging to the genus ''Cavia'' in the family Caviidae. Breeders tend to use the word ''cavy'' to describe the anim ...
s were domesticated there. In
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...
, the indigenous people of the such as
sunflower ''Helianthus'' () is a genus comprising about 70 species of annual and perennial flowering plants in the daisy family Asteraceae. Except for three South American species, the species of ''Helianthus'' are native to North America and Central Ame ...
, tobacco, squash and ''
Chenopodium ''Chenopodium'' is a genus of numerous species of perennial or annual herbaceous flowering plants known as the goosefoots, which occur almost anywhere in the world. It is placed in the family Amaranthaceae in the APG II system; older classificat ...
''. Wild foods including
wild rice Wild rice (Ojibwe: ; also called Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats) is four species of grasses forming the genus ''Zizania'', and the grain that can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in North America ...
and
maple sugar Maple sugar is a traditional sweetener in Canada and the northeastern United States, prepared from the sap of the maple tree ("maple sap"). Sources Three species of maple trees in the genus ''Acer'' are predominantly used to produce maple sug ...
were harvested. The domesticated
strawberry The garden strawberry (or simply strawberry; ''Fragaria × ananassa'') is a widely grown hybrid species of the genus ''Fragaria'', collectively known as the strawberries, which are cultivated worldwide for their fruit. The fruit is widely appr ...
is a hybrid of a Chilean and a North American species, developed by breeding in Europe and North America. The indigenous people of the Southwest and the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW), sometimes referred to as Cascadia, is a geographic region in western North America bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the mo ...
practiced
forest gardening's forest garden in Shropshire Forest gardening is a low-maintenance, Sustainable gardening, sustainable, plant-based food production and agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and p ...
and
fire-stick farming Fire-stick farming, also known as cultural burning and cool burning, is the practice of Indigenous Australians regularly using fire to burn vegetation. The associated loss of browsing and grazing animals resulted in savannah changing into dry fores ...
. The natives controlled fire on a regional scale to create a low-intensity
fire ecology burning in the San Bernardino Mountains (image taken from the International Space Station) Fire ecology is a scientific discipline concerned with natural processes involving fire in an ecosystem and the ecological effects, the interactions between f ...
that sustained a low-density agriculture in loose rotation; a sort of "wild"
permaculture Permaculture is an approach to land management and philosophy that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems. It includes a set of design principles derived using whole systems thinking. It uses these principles in fields ...
. A system of
companion planting Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is the planting of different crops in proximity for any of a number of different reasons, including pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing use of space, and ...
called the Three Sisters was developed on the Great Plains. The three crops were
winter squash Winter squash is an annual vegetable representing several squash species within the genus ''Cucurbita''. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature stage when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has h ...
, maize, and climbing beans.
Indigenous Australians Indigenous Australians are people with familial heritage to groups that lived in Australia before British colonisation. They include the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. The term Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander p ...
, long supposed to have been nomadic
hunter-gatherers A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging (collecting wild plants and pursuing wild animals). Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely mainly on dome ...
, practised systematic burning, possibly to enhance natural productivity in fire-stick farming. The
Gunditjmara The Gunditjmara or Gunditjamara, also known as Dhauwurd Wurrung, are an Aboriginal Australian people of southwestern Victoria. They are the traditional owners of the areas now encompassing Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Woolsthorpe and Portland. Their l ...
and other groups developed eel farming and fish trapping systems from some 5,000 years ago. There is evidence of 'intensification' across the whole continent over that period. In two regions of Australia, the central west coast and eastern central, early farmers cultivated yams, native millet, and bush onions, possibly in permanent settlements.


Revolution

In the Middle Ages, both in the Islamic world and in Europe, agriculture transformed with improved techniques and the diffusion of crop plants, including the introduction of sugar, rice, cotton and fruit trees (such as the orange) to Europe by way of
Al-Andalus#REDIRECT Al-Andalus#REDIRECT Al-Andalus {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
. After 1492 the
Columbian exchange native plants. Clockwise, from top left: 1. Citrus (Rutaceae); 2. Apple (''Malus domestica''); 3. Banana (''Musa''); 4. Mango (''Mangifera''); 5. Onion (''Allium''); 6. Coffee (''Coffea''); 7. Wheat (''Triticum'' spp.); 8. Rice (''Oryza sativa'' ...
brought New World crops such as maize, potatoes, tomatoes,
sweet potato The sweet potato or sweetpotato (''Ipomoea batatas'') is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, ''Convolvulaceae''. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. The young shoots and ...
es and
manioc ''Manihot esculenta'', commonly called cassava (), manioc, or yuca (among numerous regional names) is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. Although a perennial plant, cassava is extensively cultivated as an ...
to Europe, and Old World crops such as wheat, barley, rice and
turnip The turnip or white turnip (''Brassica rapa'' subsp. ''rapa'') is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, fleshy taproot. The word ''turnip'' is a compound of ''turn'' as in turned/rounded on a lathe and ''n ...
s, and livestock (including horses, cattle, sheep and goats) to the Americas.
Irrigation Irrigation is the artificial process of applying controlled amounts of water to land to assist in production of crops. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during per ...
,
crop rotation Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area across a sequence of growing seasons. It reduces reliance on one set of nutrients, pest and weed pressure, and the probability of developing resistant ...
, and
fertilizers A fertilizer (American English) or fertiliser (British English; see spelling differences) is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply plant nutrients. Fertilizers may be distinct from li ...
advanced from the 17th century with the
British Agricultural Revolution#REDIRECT British Agricultural Revolution {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, allowing global population to rise significantly. Since 1900 agriculture in developed nations, and to a lesser extent in the developing world, has seen large rises in productivity as
mechanization A water-powered mine hoist used for raising ore. This woodblock is from ''De re metallica'' by George Bauer (pen name Georgius Agricola, ca. 1555) an early mining textbook that contains numerous drawings and descriptions of mining equipment. M ...
replaces human labor, and assisted by synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and
selective breeding This Chihuahua mix and Great Dane shows the wide range of dog breed sizes created using selective breeding. Selective breeding (also called artificial selection) is the process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to selectiv ...
. The Haber-Bosch method allowed the synthesis of
ammonium nitrate Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is a white crystalline solid consisting of ions of ammonium and nitrate. It is highly soluble in water and hygroscopic as a solid, although it does not form hydrates. It is pr ...
fertilizer on an industrial scale, greatly increasing
crop yields In agriculture, the yield is a measurement of the amount of a crop grown, or product such as wool, meat or milk produced, per unit area of land. The seed ratio is another way of calculating yields. Innovations, such as the use of fertilizer, the cr ...
and sustaining a further increase in global population. Modern agriculture has raised or encountered ecological, political, and economic issues including
water pollution Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies, usually as a result of human activities. Water bodies include for example lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater. Water pollution results when contaminants are introduced into the nat ...

water pollution
,
biofuel Biofuel is fuel that is produced through contemporary processes from biomass, rather than by the very slow geological processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as oil. Since biomass technically can be used as a fuel directly (e.g ...
s,
genetically modified organism A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. The exact definition of a genetically modified organism and what constitutes genetic engineering varies, with t ...
s,
tariff A tariff is a tax imposed by a government of a country or of a supranational union on imports or exports of goods. Besides being a source of revenue for the government, import duties can also be a form of regulation of foreign trade and policy tha ...
s and
farm subsidies An agricultural subsidy (also called an agricultural incentive) is a government incentive paid to agribusinesses, agricultural organizations and farms to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural commodities, and influence the c ...
, leading to alternative approaches such as the
organic movement The organic movement broadly refers to the organizations and individuals involved worldwide in the promotion of organic food and other organic products. It started during the first half of the 20th century, when modern large-scale agricultural pract ...
.


Types

Pastoralism Pastoralism is a form of animal husbandry where domesticated animals known as livestock are released onto large vegetated outdoor lands (pastures) for grazing, historically by nomadic people who moved around with their herds. The species involve ...
involves managing domesticated animals. In
nomadic pastoralism Nomadic pastoralism is a form of pastoralism when livestock are herded in order to seek for fresh pastures on which to graze. True nomads follow an irregular pattern of movement, in contrast with transhumance where seasonal pastures are fixed. How ...
, herds of livestock are moved from place to place in search of pasture, fodder, and water. This type of farming is practised in arid and semi-arid regions of
Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent. With an area of , it is the largest hot desert in the world and the third largest desert overall, smaller only than the deserts o ...
, Central Asia and some parts of India. In
shifting cultivation } Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plot of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned while post-disturbance fallow vegetation is allowed to freely grow while the cultivator moves on to another plot. The period of cult ...
, a small area of forest is cleared by cutting and burning the trees. The cleared land is used for growing crops for a few years until the soil becomes too infertile, and the area is abandoned. Another patch of land is selected and the process is repeated. This type of farming is practiced mainly in areas with abundant rainfall where the forest regenerates quickly. This practice is used in Northeast India, Southeast Asia, and the Amazon Basin.
Subsistence farming Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow food crops to meet the needs of themselves and their families on smallholdings. Subsistence agriculturalists target farm output for survival and for mostly local requirements, with little or no su ...
is practiced to satisfy family or local needs alone, with little left over for transport elsewhere. It is intensively practiced in Monsoon Asia and South-East Asia. An estimated 2.5 billion subsistence farmers worked in 2018, cultivating about 60% of the earth's
arable land Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be ploughed") is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops.''Oxford English Dictionary'', "arable, ''adj''. and ''n.''" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2013. Alternatively, for the p ...
.
Intensive farming Intensive agriculture, also known as intensive farming (as opposed to extensive farming) and industrial agriculture, is a type of agriculture, both of crop plants and of animals, with higher levels of input and output per unit of agricultural land ...
is cultivation to maximise productivity, with a low fallow ratio and a high use of inputs (water, fertilizer, pesticide and automation). It is practiced mainly in developed countries.


Contemporary agriculture


Status

From the twentieth century, intensive agriculture increased productivity. It substituted synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for labor, but caused increased water pollution, and often involved farm subsidies. In recent years there has been a backlash against the
environmental effects Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment. Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the natural environment on the individual, organizational or governmental levels, for the benefit of both ...
of conventional agriculture, resulting in the organic, regenerative, and
sustainable agriculture Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways meeting society's present food and textile needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their needs. It can be based on an understanding of ecosystem serv ...
movements. One of the major forces behind this movement has been the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has developed an internal s ...
, which first certified
organic food Organic food is food produced by methods complying with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming features practices that cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations ...
in 1991 and began reform of its
Common Agricultural Policy The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the agricultural policy of the European Union. It implements a system of agricultural subsidies and other programmes. It was introduced in 1962 and has undergone several changes since then to reduce the co ...
(CAP) in 2005 to phase out commodity-linked farm subsidies, also known as decoupling. The growth of organic farming has renewed research in alternative technologies such as
integrated pest management An IPM trap in a cotton field (Manning, South Carolina">Insect_trap.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="boll weevil Insect trap">trap in a cotton field (Manning, South Carolina). Integrated pest management (IPM), al ...
, selective breeding, and controlled-environment agriculture. Recent mainstream technological developments include
genetically modified food Genetically modified foods (GM foods), also known as genetically engineered foods (GE foods), or bioengineered foods are foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Geneti ...
. Demand for non-food biofuel crops, development of former farm lands, rising transportation costs,
climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century hu ...
, growing consumer demand in China and India, and
population growth Population growth is the increase in the number of individuals in a population. Global human population growth amounts to around 83 million annually, or 1.1% per year. The global population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 7.9 billion in 2020. T ...
, are threatening
food security Food security is a measure of the availability of food and individuals' ability to access it. According the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as the means that all people, at all times, have physical, so ...
in many parts of the world.Watts, Jonathan (4 December 2007)
"Riots and hunger feared as demand for grain sends food costs soaring"
, ''The Guardian'' (London).
Mortished, Carl (7 March 2008
"Already we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?"
, ''The Times'' (London).
Borger, Julian (26 February 2008)
"Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits"
, ''The Guardian'' (London).
The
International Fund for Agricultural Development The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD; french: Fonds international de développement agricole (FIDA)) is an international financial institution and a specialised agency of the United Nations that works to address poverty a ...
posits that an increase in smallholder agriculture may be part of the solution to concerns about
food prices Food prices refer to the average price level for food across countries, regions and on a global scale. Food prices have an impact on producers and consumers of food. Price levels depend on the food production process, including food marketing a ...
and overall food security, given the favorable experience of Vietnam.
Soil degradationSoil retrogression and degradation are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of a stable soil. Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession reverts the land to i ...
and diseases such as
stem rust The stem, black, and cereal rusts are caused by the fungus ''Puccinia graminis'' and are a significant disease affecting cereal crops. Crop species that are affected by the disease include bread wheat, durum wheat, barley and triticale. These dise ...
are major concerns globally; approximately 40% of the world's agricultural land is seriously degraded. By 2015, the agricultural output of China was the largest in the world, followed by the European Union, India and the United States. Economists measure the
total factor productivity In economics, total-factor productivity (TFP), also called ''multi-factor productivity'', is usually measured as the ratio of aggregate output (e.g., GDP) to aggregate inputs. Under some simplifying assumptions about the production technology, g ...
of agriculture and by this measure agriculture in the United States is roughly 1.7 times more productive than it was in 1948.


Workforce

Following the
three-sector theory The three-sector model in economics divides economies into three sectors of activity: extraction of raw materials (primary), manufacturing (secondary), and service industries which exist to facilitate the transport, distribution and sale of g ...
, the number of people employed in agriculture and other
primary Primary or primaries may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Music Groups and labels * Primary (band), from Australia * Primary (musician), hip hop musician and record producer from South Korea * Primary Music, Israeli record label Works * ...
activities (such as fishing) can be more than 80% in the least developed countries, and less than 2% in the most highly developed countries. Since the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machin ...
, many countries have made the transition to developed economies, and the proportion of people working in agriculture has steadily fallen. During the 16th century in Europe, for example, between 55 and 75% of the population was engaged in agriculture; by the 19th century, this had dropped to between 35 and 65%. In the same countries today, the figure is less than 10%. At the start of the 21st century, some one billion people, or over 1/3 of the available work force, were employed in agriculture. It constitutes approximately 70% of the global employment of children, and in many countries employs the largest percentage of women of any industry. The service sector overtook the agricultural sector as the largest global employer in 2007.


Safety

Agriculture, specifically farming, remains a hazardous industry, and farmers worldwide remain at high risk of work-related injuries, lung disease,
noise-induced hearing loss Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is hearing impairment resulting from exposure to loud sound. People may have a loss of perception of a narrow range of frequencies or impaired perception of sound including sensitivity to sound or ringing in the ...
, skin diseases, as well as certain cancers related to chemical use and prolonged sun exposure. On industrialized farms, injuries frequently involve the use of
agricultural machinery Agricultural machinery relates to the mechanical structures and devices used in farming or other agriculture. There are many types of such equipment, from hand tools and power tools to tractors and the countless kinds of farm implements that th ...

agricultural machinery
, and a common cause of fatal agricultural injuries in developed countries is tractor rollovers. Pesticides and other chemicals used in farming can also be hazardous to worker health, and workers exposed to pesticides may experience illness or have children with birth defects. As an industry in which families commonly share in work and live on the farm itself, entire families can be at risk for injuries, illness, and death. Ages 0–6 May be an especially vulnerable population in agriculture; common causes of fatal injuries among young farm workers include drowning, machinery and motor accidents, including with all-terrain vehicles. The
International Labour Organization The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice through setting international labour standards. Founded in October 1919 under the League of Nations, it is the firs ...
considers agriculture "one of the most hazardous of all economic sectors". It estimates that the annual work-related death toll among agricultural employees is at least 170,000, twice the average rate of other jobs. In addition, incidences of death, injury and illness related to agricultural activities often go unreported. The organization has developed the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001, which covers the range of risks in the agriculture occupation, the prevention of these risks and the role that individuals and organizations engaged in agriculture should play. In the United States, agriculture has been identified by the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, ) is the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Cen ...
as a priority industry sector in the
National Occupational Research AgendaThe National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) is a partnership program developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The program was founded in 1996 to provide a framework for research collaborations among univers ...
to identify and provide intervention strategies for occupational health and safety issues. In the European Union, the
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) is a decentralised agency of the European Union with the task of collecting, analysing and disseminating relevant information that can serve the needs of people involved in safety and he ...
has issued guidelines on implementing health and safety directives in agriculture, livestock farming, horticulture, and forestry. The Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA) also holds a yearly summit to discuss safety.


Production

Overall production varies by country as listed.


Crop cultivation systems

Cropping systems vary among farms depending on the available resources and constraints; geography and climate of the farm; government policy; economic, social and political pressures; and the philosophy and culture of the farmer."Agricultural Production Systems". pp. 283–317 in Acquaah. Shifting cultivation (or
slash and burn Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest or woodland to create a field called a swidden. The method begins by cutting down the trees and woody plants in an area. The downed veg ...
) is a system in which forests are burnt, releasing nutrients to support cultivation of annual and then
perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term (''per-'' + ''-ennial'', "through the years") is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annuals and biennials. The term is also widely us ...
crops for a period of several years."Farming Systems: Development, Productivity, and Sustainability", pp. 25–57 in Chrispeels Then the plot is left fallow to regrow forest, and the farmer moves to a new plot, returning after many more years (10–20). This fallow period is shortened if population density grows, requiring the input of nutrients (fertilizer or
manure Animal manure is often a mixture of animal feces and bedding straw, as in this example from a stable. Manure is organic matter that is used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Most manure consists of animal feces; other sources inclu ...
) and some manual
pest control#REDIRECT Pest control#REDIRECT Pest control {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
. Annual cultivation is the next phase of intensity in which there is no fallow period. This requires even greater nutrient and pest control inputs. Further industrialization led to the use of
monoculture Monoculture is the agricultural practice of growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time. Polyculture, where more than one crop species is grown in the same space at the same time, ...
s, when one
cultivar '' 'Pink Whirls' A cultivar selected for its intriguing and colourful flowers A cultivarCultivar () has two denominations as explained in ''#Formal definition, Formal definition''. When referring to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individ ...
is planted on a large acreage. Because of the low
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the equator, which is the result of th ...
, nutrient use is uniform and pests tend to build up, necessitating the greater use of
pesticide Pesticides are substances that are meant to control pests. The term pesticide includes all of the following: herbicide, insecticides (which may include insect growth regulators, termiticides, etc.) nematicide, molluscicide, piscicide, avicide, ...
s and fertilizers.
Multiple cropping In agriculture, multiple cropping or multicropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in the same piece of land during one growing season instead of just one crop. When multiple crops are grown simultaneously, this is also known as interc ...
, in which several crops are grown sequentially in one year, and
intercropping Intercropping is a multiple cropping practice that involves growing two or more crops in proximity. In other words, intercropping is the cultivation of two or more crops simultaneously on the same field. The most common goal of intercropping is to ...
, when several crops are grown at the same time, are other kinds of annual cropping systems known as
polyculture Polyculture is a form of agriculture in which more than one species is grown at the same time and place in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems.Chrispeels, M.J.; Sadava, D.E. 1994. "Farming Systems: Development, Productivity, and Sustai ...
s. In
subtropical The subtropical zones or subtropics are geographic and climate zones located to the north and south of the tropical zone. Geographically part of the north and south temperate zones, they cover the latitudes between 23°26′11.6″ and approxim ...
and
arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life. Environments subject to arid climates tend to lack vegetation and are ca ...
environments, the timing and extent of agriculture may be limited by rainfall, either not allowing multiple annual crops in a year, or requiring irrigation. In all of these environments perennial crops are grown (coffee, chocolate) and systems are practiced such as agroforestry. In
temperate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (40° to 60° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the yea ...
environments, where ecosystems were predominantly
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae). However, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other herbs. Grasslands occur naturally ...
or
prairie Wheatfield intersection in the Southern Saskatchewan prairies, Canada. Prairies are ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and ...
, highly productive annual farming is the dominant agricultural system. Important categories of food crops include cereals, legumes, forage, fruits and vegetables.
Natural fiber Natural fibers or natural fibres (see spelling differences) are fibers that are produced by plants, animals, and geological processes. They can be used as a component of composite materials, where the orientation of fibers impacts the properties. ...
s include cotton,
wool Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and other animals, including cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, hide and fur clothing from bison, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids. Wool consists of p ...
,
hemp Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the ''Cannabis sativa'' plant species that is grown specifically for industrial use. It can be used to make a wide range of products. Along with bamboo, hemp is one of the fastest growing plants on Eart ...
, silk and
flax Flax, also known as common flax or linseed, is a flowering plant, ''Linum usitatissimum'', in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in regions of the world with temperate climate. Textiles made from flax are known in West ...
. Specific crops are cultivated in distinct
growing region A growing region is an area suited by climate and soil conditions to the cultivation of a certain type of crop or plant group. Most crops are cultivated not in one place only, but in several distinct regions in diverse parts of the world. Cultivat ...
s throughout the world. Production is listed in millions of metric tons, based on
FAO The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency of ...
estimates.


Livestock production systems

Animal husbandry is the breeding and raising of animals for meat, milk,
eggs An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo begins to develop. Egg or eggs may also refer to: Food * Egg as food Places * Egg, Austria * Egg, Switzerland People * Augustus Egg (1816–1863), English artist * Mr Egg (born 1959), Scottish musi ...
, or
wool Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and other animals, including cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, hide and fur clothing from bison, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids. Wool consists of p ...
, and for work and transport.
Working animal A working animal is an animal, usually domesticated, that is kept by humans and trained to perform tasks. They may be pets or draft animals trained to achieve certain tasks, such as guide dogs, assistance dogs, draft horses, or logging elephants ...
s, including horses,
mule A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two first-generation hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtai ...
s,
ox An ox (plural oxen), also known as a bullock in Australia and India, is a bovine trained as a draft animal. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle; castration makes the animals easier to control. Cows (adult females) or bulls (intact m ...

ox
en,
water buffalo The water buffalo (''Bubalus bubalis''), also called the domestic water buffalo or Asian water buffalo is a large bovid originating in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and China. Today, it is also found in Europe, Australia, North Americ ...

water buffalo
, camels, llamas, alpacas, donkeys, and dogs, have for centuries been used to help cultivate fields,
harvest Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper. On smaller farms with minimal mechanization, harvesting is the most labor ...

harvest
crops, wrangle other animals, and transport farm products to buyers. Livestock production systems can be defined based on feed source, as grassland-based, mixed, and landless. , 30% of Earth's ice- and water-free area was used for producing livestock, with the sector employing approximately 1.3 billion people. Between the 1960s and the 2000s, there was a significant increase in livestock production, both by numbers and by carcass weight, especially among beef, pigs and chickens, the latter of which had production increased by almost a factor of 10. Non-meat animals, such as milk cows and egg-producing chickens, also showed significant production increases. Global cattle, sheep and goat populations are expected to continue to increase sharply through 2050.
Aquaculture Aquaculture (less commonly spelled aquiculture), also known as aquafarming, is the farming of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under c ...
or fish farming, the production of fish for human consumption in confined operations, is one of the fastest growing sectors of food production, growing at an average of 9% a year between 1975 and 2007. During the second half of the 20th century, producers using selective breeding focused on creating livestock
breed A breed is a specific group of domestic animals having homogeneous appearance (phenotype), homogeneous behavior, and/or other characteristics that distinguish it from other organisms of the same species. In literature, there exist several slightl ...
s and
crossbreed A crossbreed is an organism with purebred parents of two different breeds, varieties, or populations. ''Crossbreeding'', sometimes called "designer crossbreeding", is the process of breeding such an organism, While crossbreeding is used to mainta ...
s that increased production, while mostly disregarding the need to preserve
genetic diversity Genetic diversity is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species, it ranges widely from the number of species to differences within species and can be attributed to the span of survival for a species. It is distin ...
. This trend has led to a significant decrease in genetic diversity and resources among livestock breeds, leading to a corresponding decrease in disease resistance and local adaptations previously found among traditional breeds. Grassland based livestock production relies upon plant material such as
shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity. It may b ...
,
rangeland 250px, Weeds are all that remains in Idaho after overgrazing">Idaho.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Weeds are all that remains in Idaho">Weeds are all that remains in Idaho after overgrazing, wildfires, and ...
, and
pastures Pasture (from the Latin ''pastus'', past participle of ''pascere'', "to feed") is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep, or swine. ...
for feeding
ruminant Ruminants are herbivorous mammals of the suborder Ruminantia that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through microbial actions. The process, which takes pla ...
animals. Outside nutrient inputs may be used, however manure is returned directly to the grassland as a major nutrient source. This system is particularly important in areas where crop production is not feasible because of climate or soil, representing 30–40 million pastoralists. Mixed production systems use grassland,
fodder Fodder (), also called provender (), is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock, such as cattle, rabbits, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. "Fodder" refers particularly to food given to the animals (including ...
crops and grain feed crops as feed for ruminant and monogastric (one stomach; mainly chickens and pigs) livestock. Manure is typically recycled in mixed systems as a fertilizer for crops. Landless systems rely upon feed from outside the farm, representing the de-linking of crop and livestock production found more prevalently in
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to sti ...
member countries. Synthetic fertilizers are more heavily relied upon for crop production and manure use becomes a challenge as well as a source for pollution. Industrialized countries use these operations to produce much of the global supplies of poultry and pork. Scientists estimate that 75% of the growth in livestock production between 2003 and 2030 will be in confined animal feeding operations, sometimes called
factory farming Intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production, also known by its opponents as factory farming, is a type of intensive agriculture, specifically an approach to animal husbandry designed to maximize production, while minimizing costs. ...
. Much of this growth is happening in developing countries in Asia, with much smaller amounts of growth in Africa. Some of the practices used in commercial livestock production, including the usage of
growth hormone Growth hormone (GH) or somatotropin, also known as human growth hormones (hGH or HGH) in its human form, is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration in humans and other animals. It is thus important in h ...
s, are controversial.


Production practices

Tillage is the practice of breaking up the soil with tools such as the plow or harrow to prepare for planting, for nutrient incorporation, or for pest control. Tillage varies in intensity from conventional to
no-till No-till farming (also known as zero tillage or direct drilling) is an agricultural technique for growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till farming decreases the amount of soil erosion tillage causes in certain ...
. It may improve productivity by warming the soil, incorporating fertilizer and controlling weeds, but also renders soil more prone to erosion, triggers the decomposition of organic matter releasing CO2, and reduces the abundance and diversity of soil organisms."Land Preparation and Farm Energy", pp. 318–338 in Acquaah Pest control includes the management of weeds, insects,
mite Mites are small arachnids (eight-legged arthropods). Mites are not a defined taxon, but the name is used for members of several groups in the subclass acari of the class Arachnida. Mites span two different groups of arachnids: * The Acariform ...
s, and diseases. Chemical (pesticides), biological (
biocontrol Biological control or biocontrol is a method of controlling pests such as insects, mites, weeds and plant diseases using other organisms. It relies on predation, parasitism, herbivory, or other natural mechanisms, but typically also involves a ...
), mechanical (tillage), and cultural practices are used. Cultural practices include crop rotation,
culling In biology, culling is the process of segregating organisms from a group according to desired or undesired characteristics. In animal breeding, it is the process of removing or segregating animals from a breeding stock based on specific trait ...
,
cover crop In agriculture, cover crops are plants that are planted to cover the soil rather than for the purpose of being harvested. Cover crops manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity and wildlife in an ...
s, intercropping,
compost Compost ( or ) is made by decomposing organic materials into simpler organic and inorganic compounds in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products. A good compost is rich in ...
ing, avoidance, and
resistance Resistance may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Comics * Either of two similarly named but otherwise unrelated comic book series, both published by Wildstorm: ** ''Resistance'' (comics), based on the video game of the same title ** ''The ...
. Integrated pest management attempts to use all of these methods to keep pest populations below the number which would cause economic loss, and recommends pesticides as a last resort."Pesticide Use in U.S. Crop Production", pp. 240–282 in Acquaah
Nutrient management being applied to growing corn (maize) in a contoured, no-tilled field in Iowa. Nutrient management is the science and practice directed to link soil, crop, weather, and hydrologic factors with cultural, irrigation, and soil and water conservation pr ...
includes both the source of nutrient inputs for crop and livestock production, and the method of use of manure produced by livestock. Nutrient inputs can be chemical inorganic fertilizers, manure,
green manure In agriculture, green manure is created by leaving uprooted or sown crop parts to wither on a field so that they serve as a mulch and soil amendment. The plants used for green manure are often cover crops grown primarily for this purpose. Typically ...
, compost and minerals."Soil and Land", pp. 165–210 in Acquaah Crop nutrient use may also be managed using cultural techniques such as crop rotation or a
fallow Fallow is a farming technique in which arable land is left without sowing for one or more vegetative cycles. The goal of fallowing is to allow the land to recover and store organic matter while retaining moisture and disrupting the lifecycles of p ...
period. Manure is used either by holding livestock where the feed crop is growing, such as in managed intensive rotational grazing, or by spreading either dry or liquid formulations of manure on cropland or
pasture Pasture (from the Latin ''pastus'', past participle of ''pascere'', "to feed") is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep, or swine. ...
s."Nutrition from the Soil", pp. 187–218 in ChrispeelsBrady, N. C.; Weil, R. R. (2002). "Practical Nutrient Management" pp. 472–515 in ''Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils''. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Water management Water resource management is the activity of planning, developing, distributing and managing the optimum use of water resources. It is an aspect of water cycle management. Water is essential for our survival. The field of water resources management ...
is needed where rainfall is insufficient or variable, which occurs to some degree in most regions of the world. Some farmers use irrigation to supplement rainfall. In other areas such as the
Great Plains The Great Plains, sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of flat land (a plain), much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, located in the interior of North America. It lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie ...
in the U.S. and Canada, farmers use a fallow year to conserve soil moisture to use for growing a crop in the following year."Plants and Soil Water", pp. 211–239 in Acquaah Agriculture represents 70% of freshwater use worldwide. According to a report by the
International Food Policy Research Institute The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is an international agricultural research center founded in the early 1970s to improve the understanding of national agricultural and food policies to promote the adoption of innovations in ...
, agricultural technologies will have the greatest impact on food production if adopted in combination with each other; using a model that assessed how eleven technologies could impact agricultural productivity, food security and trade by 2050, the International Food Policy Research Institute found that the number of people at risk from hunger could be reduced by as much as 40% and food prices could be reduced by almost half.
Payment for ecosystem services Payments for ecosystem services (PES), also known as payments for environmental services (or benefits), are incentives offered to farmers or landowners in exchange for managing their land to provide some sort of ecological service. They have been d ...
is a method of providing additional incentives to encourage farmers to conserve some aspects of the environment. Measures might include paying for reforestation upstream of a city, to improve the supply of fresh water.


Crop alteration and biotechnology


Plant breeding

Crop alteration has been practiced by humankind for thousands of years, since the beginning of civilization. Altering crops through breeding practices changes the genetic make-up of a plant to develop crops with more beneficial characteristics for humans, for example, larger fruits or seeds, drought-tolerance, or resistance to pests. Significant advances in plant breeding ensued after the work of geneticist
Gregor Mendel Gregor Johann Mendel (; cs, Řehoř Jan Mendel; 20 July 1822 – 6 January 1884) was a meteorologist, mathematician, biologist, Augustinian friar and abbot of St. Thomas' Abbey in Brno, Margraviate of Moravia. Mendel was born in a German-speak ...

Gregor Mendel
. His work on dominant and
recessive allele In genetics, dominance is the phenomenon of one variant (allele) of a gene on a chromosome masking or overriding the effect of a different variant of the same gene on the other copy of the chromosome. The first variant is termed dominant and the ...
s, although initially largely ignored for almost 50 years, gave plant breeders a better understanding of genetics and breeding techniques. Crop breeding includes techniques such as plant selection with desirable traits,
self-pollination Self-pollination is a form of pollination in which pollen from the same plant arrives at the stigma of a flower (in flowering plants) or at the ovule (in gymnosperms). There are two types of self-pollination: in autogamy, pollen is transferred to th ...
and
cross-pollination Pollination is the transfer of pollen from a male part of a plant to a female part of a plant, later enabling fertilisation and the production of seeds, most often by an animal or by wind. Pollinating agents are animals such as insects, birds, and ...
, and molecular techniques that genetically modify the organism. Domestication of plants has, over the centuries increased yield, improved disease resistance and
drought toleranceDrought tolerance is the ability to which a plant maintains its biomass production during arid or drought conditions. Some plants are naturally adapted to dry conditions'','' surviving with protection mechanisms such as desiccation tolerance, detoxif ...
, eased harvest and improved the taste and nutritional value of crop plants. Careful selection and breeding have had enormous effects on the characteristics of crop plants. Plant selection and breeding in the 1920s and 1930s improved pasture (grasses and clover) in New Zealand. Extensive X-ray and ultraviolet induced mutagenesis efforts (i.e. primitive genetic engineering) during the 1950s produced the modern commercial varieties of grains such as wheat, corn (maize) and barley. The
Green Revolution The Green Revolution, or the Third Agricultural Revolution, is the set of research technology transfer initiatives occurring between 1950 and the late 1960s, that increased agricultural production worldwide, beginning most markedly in the late ...
popularized the use of conventional hybridization to sharply increase yield by creating "high-yielding varieties". For example, average yields of corn (maize) in the US have increased from around 2.5 tons per hectare (t/ha) (40 bushels per acre) in 1900 to about 9.4 t/ha (150 bushels per acre) in 2001. Similarly, worldwide average wheat yields have increased from less than 1 t/ha in 1900 to more than 2.5 t/ha in 1990. South American average wheat yields are around 2 t/ha, African under 1 t/ha, and Egypt and Arabia up to 3.5 to 4 t/ha with irrigation. In contrast, the average wheat yield in countries such as France is over 8 t/ha. Variations in yields are due mainly to variation in climate, genetics, and the level of intensive farming techniques (use of fertilizers, chemical pest control, growth control to avoid lodging).


Genetic engineering

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are
organism In biology, an organism (from Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the properties of life. It is a synonym for "life form". Organisms are classified by taxonomy into groups such as ...
s whose genetic material has been altered by genetic engineering techniques generally known as
recombinant DNA technology Molecular cloning is a set of experimental methods in molecular biology that are used to assemble recombinant DNA molecules and to direct their replication within host organisms. The use of the word ''cloning'' refers to the fact that the method in ...
. Genetic engineering has expanded the genes available to breeders to use in creating desired germlines for new crops. Increased durability, nutritional content, insect and virus resistance and herbicide tolerance are a few of the attributes bred into crops through genetic engineering. For some, GMO crops cause
food safety Food safety is used as a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent food-borne illness. The occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illnesses resulting from the ingestion of a common food ...
and
food labeling The packaging and labeling of food is subject to regulation in most regions/jurisdictions, both to prevent false advertising and to promote food safety. Regulations by type Multi-faceted * Codex Alimentarius (international voluntary standard) I ...
concerns. Numerous countries have placed restrictions on the production, import or use of GMO foods and crops. Currently a global treaty, the Biosafety Protocol, regulates the trade of GMOs. There is ongoing discussion regarding the labeling of foods made from GMOs, and while the EU currently requires all GMO foods to be labeled, the US does not. Herbicide-resistant seed has a gene implanted into its genome that allows the plants to tolerate exposure to herbicides, including
glyphosate Glyphosate (IUPAC name: ''N''-(phosphonomethyl)glycine) is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It is an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate, which acts by inhibiting the plant enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimat ...

glyphosate
. These seeds allow the farmer to grow a crop that can be sprayed with herbicides to control weeds without harming the resistant crop. Herbicide-tolerant crops are used by farmers worldwide. With the increasing use of herbicide-tolerant crops, comes an increase in the use of glyphosate-based herbicide sprays. In some areas glyphosate resistant weeds have developed, causing farmers to switch to other herbicides. Some studies also link widespread glyphosate usage to iron deficiencies in some crops, which is both a crop production and a nutritional quality concern, with potential economic and health implications. Other GMO crops used by growers include insect-resistant crops, which have a gene from the soil bacterium ''
Bacillus thuringiensis ''Bacillus thuringiensis'' (or Bt) is a Gram-positive, soil-dwelling bacterium, commonly used as a biological pesticide. ''B. thuringiensis'' also occurs naturally in the gut of caterpillars of various types of moths and butterflies, as well on l ...

Bacillus thuringiensis
'' (Bt), which produces a toxin specific to insects. These crops resist damage by insects. Some believe that similar or better pest-resistance traits can be acquired through traditional breeding practices, and resistance to various pests can be gained through hybridization or cross-pollination with wild species. In some cases, wild species are the primary source of resistance traits; some tomato cultivars that have gained resistance to at least 19 diseases did so through crossing with wild populations of tomatoes.


Environmental impact


Effects and costs

Agriculture imposes multiple external costs upon society through effects such as pesticide damage to nature (especially herbicides and insecticides), nutrient runoff, excessive water usage, and loss of natural environment. A 2000 assessment of agriculture in the UK determined total external costs for 1996 of £2,343 million, or £208 per hectare. A 2005 analysis of these costs in the US concluded that cropland imposes approximately $5 to $16 billion ($30 to $96 per hectare), while livestock production imposes $714 million. Both studies, which focused solely on the fiscal impacts, concluded that more should be done to internalize external costs. Neither included subsidies in their analysis, but they noted that subsidies also influence the cost of agriculture to society. Agriculture seeks to increase yield and to reduce costs. Yield increases with inputs such as fertilisers and removal of pathogens, predators, and competitors (such as weeds). Costs decrease with increasing scale of farm units, such as making fields larger; this means removing
hedge A hedge or hedgerow is a line of closely spaced shrubs and sometimes trees, planted and trained to form a barrier or to mark the boundary of an area, such as between neighbouring properties. Hedges used to separate a road from adjoining fields o ...
s, ditches and other areas of habitat. Pesticides kill insects, plants and fungi. These and other measures have cut biodiversity to very low levels on intensively farmed land. In 2010, the
International Resource Panel The International Resource Panel is a scientific panel of experts that aims to help nations use natural resources sustainably without compromising economic growth and human needs. It provides independent scientific assessments and expert advice on ...
of the
United Nations Environment Programme The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong, its first director, after the United Nations Conference on the ...
assessed the environmental impacts of consumption and production. It found that agriculture and food consumption are two of the most important drivers of environmental pressures, particularly habitat change, climate change, water use and toxic emissions. Agriculture is the main source of toxins released into the environment, including insecticides, especially those used on cotton. The 2011 UNEP Green Economy report states that " gricultural operations, excluding land use changes, produce approximately 13 per cent of anthropogenic global GHG emissions. This includes GHGs emitted by the use of inorganic fertilizers agro-chemical pesticides and herbicides; (GHG emissions resulting from production of these inputs are included in industrial emissions); and fossil fuel-energy inputs.UNEP, 2011, Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, https://www.unenvironment.org/search/node?keys=Towards+a+Green+Economy%3A+Pathways+to+Sustainable+Development+and+Poverty+Eradication "On average we find that the total amount of fresh residues from agricultural and forestry production for second- generation biofuel production amounts to 3.8 billion tonnes per year between 2011 and 2050 (with an average annual growth rate of 11 per cent throughout the period analysed, accounting for higher growth during early years, 48 per cent for 2011–2020 and an average 2 per cent annual expansion after 2020)."


Livestock issues

A senior UN official, Henning Steinfeld, said that "Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems". Livestock production occupies 70% of all land used for agriculture, or 30% of the land surface of the planet. It is one of the largest sources of
greenhouse gas A greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor (), carbon dioxid ...
es, responsible for 18% of the world's
greenhouse gas emissions Greenhouse gas emissions are emissions of greenhouse gases created from a range of human activities that cause climate change, as they have increased concentrations in the earth's atmosphere. These emissions mainly include carbon dioxide emissions ...
as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2. It produces 65% of human-related
nitrous oxide Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or nitrous, is a chemical compound, an oxide of nitrogen with the formula . At room temperature, it is a colourless non-flammable gas, with a slight metallic scent and taste. At elevated temperatu ...
(which has 296 times the global warming potential of CO2,) and 37% of all human-induced
methane Methane ( or ) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula (one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). It is a group-14 hydride and the simplest alkane, and is the main constituent of natural gas. The relative abundance of methane on ...
(which is 23 times as warming as CO2.) It also generates 64% of the
ammonia Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. A stable binary hydride, and the simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a distinct characteristic of a pungent smell. It is a common nitrogenous waste, p ...
emission. Livestock expansion is cited as a key factor driving
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical fores ...
; in the Amazon basin 70% of previously forested area is now occupied by pastures and the remainder used for feedcrops. Through deforestation and
land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or unde ...
, livestock is also driving reductions in biodiversity. Furthermore, the UNEP states that "
methane emissions Increasing methane emissions are a major contributor to the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere, and are responsible for up to one-third of near-term global heating. During 2019, about 60% (360 million tons) of methane re ...
from global livestock are projected to increase by 60 per cent by 2030 under current practices and consumption patterns."


Land and water issues

Land transformation, the use of land to yield goods and services, is the most substantial way humans alter the Earth's ecosystems, and is considered the driving force in the
loss of biodiversity Biodiversity loss includes the extinction of species worldwide, as well as the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat, resulting in a loss of biological diversity. The latter phenomenon can be temporary or permanent, depending on w ...
. Estimates of the amount of land transformed by humans vary from 39 to 50%. Land degradation, the long-term decline in ecosystem function and productivity, is estimated to be occurring on 24% of land worldwide, with cropland overrepresented. The UN-FAO report cites land management as the driving factor behind degradation and reports that 1.5 billion people rely upon the degrading land. Degradation can be deforestation,
desertification Desertification is when the land is starting to degrade in drylands and it loses the biological productivity that it once had to certain accidents that happen. The land that gets affected by desertification is caused by a combination of many thi ...
,
soil erosion Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil; it is a form of soil degradation. This natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, that is, water, ice (glaciers), snow, air (wind), plants, animals, and humans. I ...
, mineral depletion, or chemical degradation (
acidification Acidification may refer to: * Ocean acidification, decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans * Freshwater acidification, atmospheric depositions and soil leaching of SOx and NOx * Soil acidification, buildup of hydrogen cations, which reduces the s ...
and salinization). Agriculture lead to rise in
Zoonotic disease A zoonosis (plural zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has jumped from an animal (usually a vertebrate) to a human. Typically, th ...
like the
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, by degrading natural buffers between humans and animals, reducing biodiversity and creating big groups of genetically similar animals.
Eutrophication Eutrophication (from Greek ''eutrophos'', "well-nourished") is a limnological term for the process by which a body of water becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients. Water bodies with very low nutrient levels are termed oligot ...
, excessive nutrients in
aquatic ecosystem An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem in a body of water. Communities of organisms that are dependent on each other and on their environment live in aquatic ecosystems. The two main types of aquatic ecosystems are marine ecosystems and freshwater ...
s resulting in
algal bloom#REDIRECT Algal bloom ...
and anoxia, leads to
fish kill The term fish kill, known also as fish die-off, refers to a localized die-off of fish populations which may also be associated with more generalized mortality of aquatic life.University of Florida. Gainesville, FL (2005) ''Plant Management in Flor ...
s, loss of biodiversity, and renders water unfit for drinking and other industrial uses. Excessive fertilization and manure application to cropland, as well as high livestock stocking densities cause nutrient (mainly
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7. It was first discovered and isolated by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford in 1772. Although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Henry Cavendish had independently done so at about t ...
and
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly reactive, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. ...
)
runoff Runoff, run-off or RUNOFF may refer to: * RUNOFF, the first computer text-formatting program * Runoff or run-off, another name for bleed, printing that lies beyond the edges to which a printed sheet is trimmed * Runoff or run-off, a stock market te ...
and
leaching Leaching is the loss or extraction of certain materials from a carrier into a liquid (usually, but not always a solvent). and may refer to: *Leaching (agriculture), the loss of water-soluble plant nutrients from the soil; or applying a small amount ...
from agricultural land. These nutrients are major contributing to
eutrophication Eutrophication (from Greek ''eutrophos'', "well-nourished") is a limnological term for the process by which a body of water becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients. Water bodies with very low nutrient levels are termed oligot ...
of aquatic ecosystems and pollution of groundwater, with harmful effects on human populations. Fertilisers also reduce terrestrial biodiversity by increasing competition for light, favouring those species that are able to benefit from the added nutrients. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of withdrawals of freshwater resources. Agriculture is a major draw on water from
aquifer An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt). Groundwater can be extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization ...
s, and currently draws from those underground water sources at an unsustainable rate. It is long known that aquifers in areas as diverse as northern China, the Upper Ganges and the western US are being depleted, and new research extends these problems to aquifers in Iran, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Increasing pressure is being placed on water resources by industry and urban areas, meaning that
water scarcity Water scarcity (water stress or water crisis) is the lack of fresh water resources to meet the standard water demand. Humanity is facing a water crisis, due to unequal distribution (exacerbated by climate change) resulting in some very wet and s ...

water scarcity
is increasing and agriculture is facing the challenge of producing more food for the world's growing population with reduced water resources. Agricultural water usage can also cause major environmental problems, including the destruction of natural wetlands, the spread of water-borne diseases, and land degradation through salinization and waterlogging, when irrigation is performed incorrectly.


Pesticides

Pesticide use has increased since 1950 to 2.5million short tons annually worldwide, yet crop loss from pests has remained relatively constant. The World Health Organization estimated in 1992 that three million pesticide poisonings occur annually, causing 220,000 deaths.''Our planet, our health: Report of the WHO commission on health and environment''. Geneva:
World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency's governing structure and principles, states its main objective as ...
(1992).
Pesticides select for
pesticide resistance Pesticide resistance describes the decreased susceptibility of a pest population to a pesticide that was previously effective at controlling the pest. Pest species evolve pesticide resistance via natural selection: the most resistant specimens sur ...
in the pest population, leading to a condition termed the "pesticide treadmill" in which pest resistance warrants the development of a new pesticide."Strategies for Pest Control", pp. 355–383 in Chrispeels An alternative argument is that the way to "save the environment" and prevent famine is by using pesticides and intensive high yield farming, a view exemplified by a quote heading the Center for Global Food Issues website: 'Growing more per acre leaves more land for nature'. However, critics argue that a trade-off between the environment and a need for food is not inevitable,Lappe, F. M.; Collins, J.; Rosset, P. (1998)
"Myth 4: Food vs. Our Environment"
pp. 42–57 in ''World Hunger, Twelve Myths'', Grove Press, New York.
and that pesticides simply replace good agronomic practices such as crop rotation. The
Push–pull agricultural pest management Push–pull technology is an intercropping strategy for controlling agricultural pests by using repellent "push" plants and trap "pull" plants. For example, cereal crops like maize or sorghum are often infested by stem borers. Grasses planted arou ...
technique involves intercropping, using plant aromas to repel pests from crops (push) and to lure them to a place from which they can then be removed (pull).


Climate change

Climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century hu ...
and agriculture are interrelated on a global scale. Global warming affects agriculture through changes in
average temperatures In colloquial language, an average is a single number taken as representative of a non-empty list of numbers. Different concepts of average are used in different contexts. Often "average" refers to the arithmetic mean, the sum of the numbers divided ...
, rainfall, and weather extremes (like storms and heat waves); changes in pests and diseases; changes in atmospheric
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula ) is a colorless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide molecules consist of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmospher ...

carbon dioxide
and ground-level
ozone Ozone (), or trioxygen, is an inorganic molecule with the chemical formula . It is a pale blue gas with a distinctively pungent smell. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope , breaking down in the lower ...
concentrations; changes in the nutritional quality of some foods; and changes in
sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which heights such as elevation may be measured. The global MSL is a type of vertical datuma standardised geode ...
. Global warming is already affecting agriculture, with effects unevenly distributed across the world.Porter, J. R., ''et al''., Executive summary, in
Chapter 7: Food security and food production systems
(archive
5 November 2014
, in
Future climate change will probably negatively affect
crop production Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled peo ...
in
low latitude The tropics are the region of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at S; these latitudes correspond to the ...
countries, while effects in northern
latitude In geography, latitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the north–south position of a point on the Earth's surface. Latitude is an angle (defined below) which ranges from 0° at the Equator to 90° (North or South) at the poles. Lines ...
s may be positive or negative. Global warming will probably increase the risk of
food insecurity Food security is a measure of the availability of food and individuals' ability to access it. According the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as the means that all people, at all times, have physical, so ...
for some vulnerable groups, such as the
poor Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person's basic needs. Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements. ''Absolute poverty'' is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic pe ...
. Animal husbandry is also responsible for greenhouse gas production of and a percentage of the world's methane, and future land infertility, and the displacement of wildlife. Agriculture contributes to climate change by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, and by the conversion of non-agricultural land such as forest for agricultural use. Agriculture, forestry and land-use change contributed around 20 to 25% to global annual emissions in 2010. A range of policies can reduce the risk of negative climate change impacts on agriculture, and greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector.


Sustainability

Current farming methods have resulted in over-stretched water resources, high levels of erosion and reduced soil fertility. There is not enough water to continue farming using current practices; therefore how critical water, land, and
ecosystem An ecosystem is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energ ...
resources are used to boost crop yields must be reconsidered. A solution would be to give value to ecosystems, recognizing environmental and livelihood tradeoffs, and balancing the rights of a variety of users and interests. Inequities that result when such measures are adopted would need to be addressed, such as the reallocation of water from poor to rich, the clearing of land to make way for more productive farmland, or the preservation of a wetland system that limits fishing rights. Technological advancements help provide farmers with tools and resources to make farming more sustainable. Technology permits innovations like
conservation tillage Tillage is the agricultural preparation of soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. Examples of human-powered tilling methods using hand tools include shoveling, picking, mattock work, hoeing, and ...
, a farming process which helps prevent land loss to erosion, reduces water pollution, and enhances
carbon sequestration Carbon sequestration or carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is the long-term removal, capture or sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow or reverse atmospheric CO2 pollution and to mitigate or reverse global warming. Carbon dioxid ...
. Other potential practices include
conservation agriculture Conservation agriculture (CA) can be defined by a statement given by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as "A farming system that promotes minimum soil disturbance (i.e. No-till farming), maintenance of a permanent soil cov ...
,
agroforestry Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. This diversification of the farming system initiates an agroecological succession, like that in natural ecosystems, and so start ...
, improved
grazing In agriculture, grazing is a method of animal husbandry whereby domestic livestock are allowed to consume wild vegetations outdoor in order to convert grass and other forages into meat, milk, wool and other animal products, often on land unsuitabl ...
, avoided grassland conversion, and
biochar Biochar is charcoal that is produced by pyrolysis of biomass in the absence of oxygen; it is used as a soil ameliorant for both carbon sequestration and soil health benefits. Biochar is a stable solid that is rich in carbon and can endure in soi ...

biochar
. Current mono-crop farming practices in the United States preclude widespread adoption of sustainable practices, such as 2-3 crop rotations that incorporate grass or hay with annual crops, unless negative emission goals such as soil carbon sequestration become policy. According to a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), agricultural technologies will have the greatest impact on food production if adopted in combination with each other; using a model that assessed how eleven technologies could impact agricultural productivity, food security and trade by 2050, IFPRI found that the number of people at risk from hunger could be reduced by as much as 40% and food prices could be reduced by almost half. The caloric demand of Earth's projected population, with current climate change predictions, can be satisfied by additional improvement of agricultural methods, expansion of agricultural areas, and a sustainability-oriented consumer mindset.


Energy dependence

Since the 1940s, agricultural productivity has increased dramatically, due largely to the increased use of energy-intensive mechanization, fertilizers and pesticides. The vast majority of this energy input comes from
fossil fuel A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing organic molecules originating in ancient photosynthesis that release energy in combustion.Schmidt-Rohr, K. (2015). "Why C ...
sources. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, the Green Revolution transformed agriculture around the globe, with world grain production increasing significantly (between 70% and 390% for wheat and 60% to 150% for rice, depending on geographic area) as
world population upright=1.3, Population growth graph In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7,800,000,000 people . It took over 2 million years of human prehistory and history for ...

world population
doubled. Heavy reliance on
petrochemical Petrochemicals (sometimes abbreviated as petchems) are the chemical products obtained from petroleum by refining. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, or renewable sour ...
s has raised concerns that oil shortages could increase costs and reduce agricultural output. Industrialized agriculture depends on fossil fuels in two fundamental ways: direct consumption on the farm and manufacture of inputs used on the farm. Direct consumption includes the use of lubricants and fuels to operate farm vehicles and machinery. Indirect consumption includes the manufacture of fertilizers, pesticides, and farm machinery. In particular, the production of
nitrogen fertilizer A fertilizer (American English) or fertiliser (British English; see spelling differences) is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply plant nutrients. Fertilizers may be distinct from li ...
can account for over half of agricultural energy usage. Together, direct and indirect consumption by US farms accounts for about 2% of the nation's energy use. Direct and indirect energy consumption by U.S. farms peaked in 1979, and has since gradually declined.
Food systemsThe term food system is used frequently in discussions about nutrition, food, health, community, economic development and agriculture. A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population: growing, harvesting, proc ...
encompass not just agriculture but off-farm processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related items. Agriculture accounts for less than one-fifth of food system energy use in the US.


Disciplines


Agricultural economics

Agricultural economics is economics as it relates to the "production, distribution and consumption of griculturalgoods and services". Combining agricultural production with general theories of marketing and business as a discipline of study began in the late 1800s, and grew significantly through the 20th century. Although the study of agricultural economics is relatively recent, major trends in agriculture have significantly affected national and international economies throughout history, ranging from
tenant farmer A tenant farmer is one who resides on land owned by a landlord. Tenant farming is an agricultural production system in which landowners contribute their land and often a measure of operating capital and management, while tenant farmers contribut ...
s and
sharecropping Sharecropping is a legal arrangement with regard to agricultural land in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on that land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range o ...
in the post-
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern states loyal to the Union and southern states that had seceded to form the Confederate States of America. Th ...
Southern United States to the European
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was a combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society aroun ...
system of
manorialism Manorialism, also known as seignorialism or the manorial system, was an organising principle of rural economies which vested legal and economic power in a lord of the manor. If the core of feudalism is defined as a set of legal and military ...
. In the United States, and elsewhere, food costs attributed to
food processing Food processing is the transformation of agricultural products into food, or of one form of food into other forms. Food processing includes many forms of processing foods, from grinding grain to make raw flour to home cooking to complex industri ...
, distribution, and
agricultural marketing Agricultural marketing covers the services involved in moving an agricultural product from the farm to the consumer. These services involve the planning, organizing, directing and handling of agricultural produce in such a way as to satisfy farme ...
, sometimes referred to as the
value chain A value chain is a set of activities that a firm operating in a specific industry performs in order to deliver a valuable product (i.e., good and/or service) for the market. The concept comes through business management and was first described by ...
, have risen while the costs attributed to farming have declined. This is related to the greater efficiency of farming, combined with the increased level of value addition (e.g. more highly processed products) provided by the supply chain.
Market concentration In economics, market concentration is a function of the number of firms and their respective shares of the total production (alternatively, total capacity or total reserves) in a market. Alternative terms are industry concentration and seller conce ...
has increased in the sector as well, and although the total effect of the increased market concentration is likely increased efficiency, the changes redistribute
economic surplus In mainstream economics, economic surplus, also known as total welfare or Marshallian surplus (after Alfred Marshall), refers to two related quantities: * Consumer surplus, or consumers' surplus, is the monetary gain obtained by consumers because ...
from producers (farmers) and consumers, and may have negative implications for rural communities. National government policies can significantly change the economic marketplace for agricultural products, in the form of taxation,
subsidies A subsidy or government incentive is a form of financial aid or support extended to an economic sector (business, or individual) generally with the aim of promoting economic and social policy. Although commonly extended from the government, the term ...
, tariffs and other measures. Since at least the 1960s, a combination of trade restrictions, exchange rate policies and subsidies have affected farmers in both the developing and the developed world. In the 1980s, non-subsidized farmers in developing countries experienced adverse effects from national policies that created artificially low global prices for farm products. Between the mid-1980s and the early 2000s, several international agreements limited agricultural tariffs, subsidies and other trade restrictions. However, , there was still a significant amount of policy-driven distortion in global agricultural product prices. The three agricultural products with the greatest amount of trade distortion were sugar, milk and rice, mainly due to taxation. Among the oilseeds, sesame had the greatest amount of taxation, but overall, feed grains and oilseeds had much lower levels of taxation than livestock products. Since the 1980s, policy-driven distortions have seen a greater decrease among livestock products than crops during the worldwide reforms in agricultural policy. Despite this progress, certain crops, such as cotton, still see subsidies in developed countries artificially deflating global prices, causing hardship in developing countries with non-subsidized farmers. Unprocessed commodities such as corn, soybeans, and cattle are generally graded to indicate quality, affecting the price the producer receives. Commodities are generally reported by production quantities, such as volume, number or weight.


Agricultural science

Agricultural science is a broad multidisciplinary field of biology that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. It covers topics such as agronomy, plant breeding and genetics, plant pathology, crop modelling, soil science, entomology, production techniques and improvement, study of pests and their management, and study of adverse environmental effects such as soil degradation, waste management, and bioremediation. The scientific study of agriculture began in the 18th century, when Johann Friedrich Mayer (agriculturist), Johann Friedrich Mayer conducted experiments on the use of gypsum (hydrated calcium sulphate) as a fertilizer.John Armstrong, Jesse Buel. ''A Treatise on Agriculture, The Present Condition of the Art Abroad and at Home, and the Theory and Practice of Husbandry. To which is Added, a Dissertation on the Kitchen and Garden.'' 1840. p. 45. Research became more systematic when in 1843, John Lawes and Henry Gilbert began a set of long-term agronomy field experiments at Rothamsted Research Station in England; some of them, such as the Park Grass Experiment, are still running. In America, the Hatch Act of 1887 provided funding for what it was the first to call "agricultural science", driven by farmers' interest in fertilizers. In agricultural entomology, the USDA began to research biological control in 1881; it instituted its first large program in 1905, searching Europe and Japan for natural enemies of the Lymantria dispar dispar, gypsy moth and brown-tail moth, establishing parasitoids (such as solitary wasps) and predators of both pests in the USA.Coulson, J. R.; Vail, P. V.; Dix M. E.; Nordlund, D. A.; Kauffman, W. C.; Eds. 2000. 110 years of biological control research and development in the United States Department of Agriculture: 1883–1993. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. pages=3–11


Policy

Agricultural policy is the set of government decisions and actions relating to domestic agriculture and imports of foreign agricultural products. Governments usually implement agricultural policies with the goal of achieving a specific outcome in the domestic agricultural product markets. Some overarching themes include risk management and adjustment (including policies related to climate change, food safety and natural disasters), economic stability (including policies related to taxes), natural resources and environmental sustainability (especially water resource management, water policy), research and development, and market access for domestic commodities (including relations with global organizations and agreements with other countries). Agricultural policy can also touch on food quality, ensuring that the food supply is of a consistent and known quality, food security, ensuring that the food supply meets the population's needs, and Conservation biology, conservation. Policy programs can range from financial programs, such as subsidies, to encouraging producers to enroll in voluntary quality assurance programs. There are many influences on the creation of agricultural policy, including consumers, agribusiness, trade lobbies and other groups. Agribusiness interests hold a large amount of influence over policy making, in the form of lobbying and campaign contributions. Political action groups, including those interested in environmental issues and labor unions, also provide influence, as do lobbying organizations representing individual agricultural commodities. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads international efforts to defeat hunger and provides a forum for the negotiation of global agricultural regulations and agreements. Dr. Samuel Jutzi, director of FAO's animal production and health division, states that lobbying by large corporations has stopped reforms that would improve human health and the environment. For example, proposals in 2010 for a voluntary code of conduct for the livestock industry that would have provided incentives for improving standards for health, and environmental regulations, such as the number of animals an area of land can support without long-term damage, were successfully defeated due to large food company pressure.


See also

* Aeroponics * Agricultural aircraft * Agricultural engineering * Agricultural robot * Agroecology * Building-integrated agriculture * Contract farming * Corporate farming * Crofting * Ecoagriculture * Hill farming * List of documentary films about agriculture * Pharming (genetics) * Remote sensing * Subsistence economy * Vertical farming * Vegetable farming


References


Cited sources

* * *


External links


Food and Agriculture Organization

United States Department of Agriculture

Agriculture
material from the World Bank Group * * {{Authority control Agriculture, Agronomy Food industry