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Agriculture

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Farming is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life.[1] Agriculture is the field encompassing the cultivation of these animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life.

History

Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of civilization.

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.

The British Agricultural Revolution and the Green Revolution have massively increased food production and helped prevent the widespread famine that was predicted after WW2. They also increased the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which in turn allowed the use of less efficient industrial agricultural systems based on monocultures.

In the developed world, these agricultural systems based on large-scale monocultures have since then become the dominant system of modern farming, although there is increased adoption of systems that use several crops (polyculture) aswell as increased implementation of additional techniques (ie agroforestry, integrated pest management, zero-tillage, ...) More radical agricultural systems have also started to emerge, ie organic agricultural systems. The first, in an attempt to reduce the requirement of large amounts of energy, chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, and water. The second, in an attempt to eliminate deep ploughing which causes the soil to loose much of its nutrients, and carbon and is also a main cause of soil dehydration, erosion and eutrophication.

Increasing the food production from agriculture

According to a 2009 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the world will have to produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people.[2] The question remains however on how this will be achieved. Urban developmentis shrinking the agricultural land base. Fossil fuel reserves are also dwindling, increasing the demand of crops cultivated for biofuel production.

Besides this, other issues still remain unresolved, such as the fact that food is produced far from the point of consumption, which is a factor in the ecological impact of the food. The problem also makes truly fresh produce a rare luxury. Local food is a response to these concerns.

Another unresolved issue is the fact that allot of produced food is discarded, despite being perfectly formed. For example, melons that are too small is are thrown away, as they can not be sold on the auction. Allot of food that has tiny imperfections is also thrown away, for example carrots, cucumbers, ... that are not perfectly straight, or nectarines that have minor dents. Although if the food is composted and reused on the agricultural field, the ecological impact is very minor, it does reduce the efficiency and hence puts a strain on agriculture.

Gardening vs agriculture

Agriculture needs to be seperated from gardening. Permaculture for example is type of gardening as the agricultural field is arranged around a family house. Other types of gardens are ie balcony gardens, ...

Small and large scale crop growing

Agriculture can roughly be divided in 2 types: monocultures and polycultures. Within these types, we can further differentiate into models. Polyculture can be split up into:

Alternatives

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.

See also

References

  1. International Labour Office (1999). Safety and health in agriculture. International Labour Organization. pp. 77–. ISBN 978-92-2-111517-5. http://books.google.com/books?id=GtBa6XIW_aQC&pg=PA77. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  2. Global food production will have to increase 70% for additional 2.3 billion people by 2050. Finfacts.com. September 24, 2009.
For the introduction.
Wikipedia
This page or section includes content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Agriculture. The list of authors can be seen in the history for that page. As with Appropedia, the text of Wikipedia is available under the CC-BY-SA.

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