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Agriculture is the cultivation of animalsW, plantsW, fungiW and other life forms for food, fiberW, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary humanW civilizationW, whereby farming of domesticatedW species created food surplusesW that nurtured the development of civilizationW. The study of agriculture is known as agricultural scienceW. Agriculture is also observed in certain species of ant and termite, but generally speaking refers to human activities.
The history of agricultureW dates back thousands of years, and its development has been driven and defined by greatly different climates, cultures, and technologies. However, all farming generally relies on techniques to expand and maintain the lands suitable for raising domesticated species. For plants, this usually requires some form of irrigation, although there are methods of dryland farmingW; pastoralW herding on rangelandW is still the most common means of raising livestock. In the developed world, industrial agricultureW based on large-scale monoculture has become the dominant system of modern farming, although there is growing support for sustainable agriculture (e.g. permaculture or organic agriculture.
Sustainability of current agriculture
Our current food system is not sustainable. Development, especially Urban sprawl, is shrinking the agricultural land base. We use large amounts of energy, chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, water. Deep ploughing in large-scale farming is causing the soil to loose much of its nutrients, carbon and is a source of dehydration, soil-erosion and eutrophication.
Food is produced far from the point of consumption, which is a factor in the ecological impact of the food; it also makes truly fresh produce a rare luxury. Local food is a response to these concerns
Global food production
While the Green Revolution massively increased food production after World War II and helped prevent the widespread famine that was predicted, it also increased the use of monocultures, fertilizers and pesticides.
While population growth rates are slowing,[verification needed] there is still a need for increased food production. Improved knowledge about natural processes in food production, especially soil science, about the benefits of
Biofuels from crops have begun to compete with food crops, resulting in increased food prices and thus hunger.
Zero tillage or No-till farming Farming will help reducing use of fuel and labour, and will retain nutrients like carbon, nitrogen and the humidity in the soil. Preventing top soil erosion and eutrophication in neighbouring waterways.
Community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture offer alternatives, with benefits in improved food quality, freshness and variety, richness of experience, education and building of social connections. These are potentially more sustainable through waste management (composting and possibly greywater reuse), reduced goods transport and possible economic benefit.
Important as these measures are, there is little prospect of this becoming the major source of food in the foreseeable future. For this reason, it is essential to improve the sustainability of commercial agriculture, from Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) to very large-scale farms.
- International Labour Office (1999). Safety and health in agriculture. International Labour Organization. pp. 77–. ISBN 978-92-2-111517-5. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
- "For sustainable architecture, think bug". NewScientist. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- B. Hölldobler & E.O. Wilson (1990). The Ants. Cambridge MA: Belknap. ISBN 978-0-674-48525-9.
- Wikipedia:Portal:Agriculture and Agronomy
- Wikipedia:Sustainable agriculture
- Wikipedia:List of sustainable agriculture topics
- Wikipedia:Category:Sustainable agriculture
- Wikipedia:Urban agriculture
- Wikipedia:Community-supported agriculture
- Wikipedia:No-till farming
- Wikipedia:Zero tillage
- Community Supported Agriculture for Urban Lifestyles - WorldChanging, June 3, 2005. A flexible model of community-supported agriculture.
- For the introduction.
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