The Story of the Aged Mother

Topics: Agriculture, Organic farming, Organic food Pages: 18 (5522 words) Published: August 8, 2013
AGRICULTUREExpand
Agriculture, art, science, and industry of managing the growth of plants and animals for human use. In a broad sense agriculture includes cultivation of the soil, growing and harvesting crops, breeding and raising livestock, dairying, and forestry (see Animal Husbandry; Crop Farming; Dairy Farming; Forestry; Poultry Farming; Soil Management). Regional and national agriculture are covered in more detail in individual continent, country, state, and Canadian province articles. Modern agriculture depends heavily on engineering and technology and on the biological and physical sciences. Irrigation, drainage, conservation, and sanitary engineering—each of which is important in successful farming—are some of the fields requiring the specialized knowledge of agricultural engineers. Agricultural chemistry deals with other vital farming concerns, such as the application of fertilizer, insecticides (see Pest Control), and fungicides, soil makeup, analysis of agricultural products, and nutritional needs of farm animals. Plant breeding and genetics contribute immeasurably to farm productivity. Genetics has also made a science of livestock breeding. Hydroponics, a method of soilless gardening in which plants are grown in chemical nutrient solutions, may help meet the need for greater food production as the world’s population increases. The packing, processing, and marketing of agricultural products are closely related activities also influenced by science. Methods of quick-freezing and dehydration have increased the markets for farm products (see Food Processing and Preservation; Meat Packing Industry). Mechanization, the outstanding characteristic of late 19th- and 20th-century agriculture, has eased much of the backbreaking toil of the farmer. More significantly, mechanization has enormously increased farm efficiency and productivity (see Agricultural Machinery). Animals including horses, oxen, llamas, alpacas, and dogs, however, are still used to cultivate fields, harvest crops, and transport farm products to markets in many parts of the world. Airplanes and helicopters are employed in agriculture for seeding, spraying operations for insect and disease control, transporting perishable products, and fighting forest fires. Increasingly satellites are being used to monitor crop yields. Radio and television disseminate vital weather reports and other information such as market reports that concern farmers. Computers have become an essential tool for farm management. |

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Over the 10,000 years since agriculture began to be developed, peoples everywhere have discovered the food value of wild plants and animals, and domesticated and bred them. The most important crops are cereals such as wheat, rice, barley, corn, and rye; sugarcane and sugar beets; meat animals such as sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs or swine; poultry such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys; animal products such as milk, cheese, and eggs; and nuts and oils. Fruits, vegetables, and olives are also major foods for people. Feed grains for animals include soybeans, field corn, and sorghum. See also Grasses; Hay; Grain; Legume; Silage. Agricultural income is also derived from nonfood crops such as rubber, fiber plants, tobacco, and oil seeds used in synthetic chemical compounds, as well as animals raised for pelts. Conditions that determine what is raised in an area include climate, water supply and waterworks, terrain, and ecology. In 2003, 44 percent of the world’s labor force was employed in agriculture. The distribution ranged from 66 percent of the economically active population in sub-Saharan Africa to less than 3 percent in the United States and Canada. In Asia and the Pacific the figure was 60 percent; in Latin America and the Caribbean, 19 percent; and in Europe, 9 percent. Farm size varies widely from region to region. In the early 2000s the average for Canadian farms was about 273 hectares (about 675 acres) per farm; for farms...
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